Retro Racer.

Motorcycle racing in a seventies setting.

Was the fascination with motorcycling ever greater than in the seventies? When boys barely eighteen years old stormed retailers and amateurs shined in international races. This spirit of the age is now being brought back to life. Retro Racing at the Auerberg Klassik.

The sound rushes ahead of them. A roar from the two and four-stroke engines. Almost a hundred years of motorcycle history as an audio drama. When the 175 machines turn onto the main road of the small mountain village of Bernbeuren, they take the onlookers on the roadside back into the past. One drones rebelliously, another already has a jammed piston on the kilometre from the paddock to the starting grid.

The clocks go backwards for a moment. Racing motorcyclists from back then are suddenly twenty-five years old again. And young fellas with long beards find themselves in an ambience whose revival they desired and helped shape. Classic Racing. A scene that once was and has now been revived again. Because everything used to be better in the past?

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Motorcycle cult of the seventies.

Motorcycle cult of the seventies.

After several decades, the racing scene is increasingly returning to mountain and road courses. A revival that brings back the zeitgeist that has been much missed by motorcycling enthusiasts over the past few decades or has been fostered and celebrated by minorities. The multitude of people who currently have fallen in love with the motorcycling cult is reflected in the numbers of people pilgriming to the Auerberg Klassik hill climb in the alpine upland. Men wearing flares and leather jackets, women with perms and bright red lips. One person knows exactly how fantastic the seventies felt. In 1974, Jakob Beck won the race at the Auerberg at the age of twenty. It was his first victory and the starting signal for his international racing career. "I have never felt so alive and independent as I did on the motorcycle", Jakob says.

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Beyond commerce and comfort.

Beyond commerce and comfort.

His craving for freedom was irrepressible. A thirst that could only be quenched by the motorcycle. Freedom was a case of sitting on the bike and riding right across Europe, beyond commerce and comfort. Freedom meant sporty riding. Freedom meant being unadjusted; first riding country roads and later racetracks with the self-tuned machine. Steppenwolf's "Born to be wild" from the cult film Easy Rider playing in your ears and inspired by the belief in the great adventure. Jakob was nineteen when he secretly remodelled his second-hand stock motorcycle into a racer at night in the garage. solo seat, low-slung handlebars, half-shell fairing. Exhaust system and carburettor trimmed for racing. This is called customising today; back then it was called "own brand". 

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"
And suddenly you are the simple guy in the boiler suit who conquers the racetrack as a one-man show.
"

Jakob Beck

motorcycle racer

Racers in boiler suits.

Racers in boiler suits.

It was the era of amateur racers and hobby mechanics, who achieved pole position in do-it-yourself mode. Because it was more about technical ability and riding by the seat of your pants than it was about money. The backdrop at the Auerberg has a similar effect. Instead of being filled with luxurious trucks, the paddock is filled to the brim with vans and tents. Some racers have arrived on their bikes. In the waiting area before the start, there are no professional teams in uniformed clothing nor are there any competitors. This is where buddies go head to head against one another and lend each other a hand or a spare part if needs be. Nobody cares about winning this regularity race. The only must is having fun.

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Shrill times.

Shrill times.

Delicate rays of sunlight penetrate the fog shrouding the valley and bring light into the cool autumn day. At the starting line, one flies onto the racetrack with a roar. He accelerates on the straights, leans into the first left-hander, then to the right, before disappearing into the mountain woodland. It is getting warmer and chaos erupts in the start area. Changing temperatures mean quickly adjusting the carburettor settings of the old two-stroke engine. The seventies were particularly shrill times in the truest sense of the word, because two-stroke motorcycles dominated the starting grid with their typical circular saw sound. The sonorous tone of the four-stroke engine was a rarity.  

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Breakneck bumblebees.

Breakneck bumblebees.

Helmut Dähne was a great advocate of the four-stroke engine, these "breakneck bumblebees", even back then. In 1976, he won the Production TT at the Isle of Man with his R 90 S and is now lining up with the same machine at the Auerberg – wearing his legendary red leathers. Jakob, who also took part in the Isle of Man, is talking to him about the R nineT Racer, which was built according to the model of the R 90 S and which Jakob will be riding today. Then he is on the starting line. Just like he was back in 1974. Nothing has changed. Because the mountain hasn't changed. The start flag is raised and the boxer of the R nineT Racer unleashes its power, which becomes even more apparent uphill.

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Pleasure ride on the limit.

Jakob lies flat on the tank, his hands on the low handlebars behind the windshield, his feet far back on the footrests. Pure style from the seventies. He fuses with the bike, which glides comfortably and with stability round the bends. It's a pleasure ride – even if the pleasure starts right on the limit in his case. Once a racer, always a racer. Into the last corner, accelerating out of it, light barrier, finish! He shakes off the tension of maximum concentration. Young people line the road, cheering and waving. "The racetrack is a stage and you are the star in the spotlight in this moment", Jakob proudly says, savouring every second of this trip through time, just like the spectators.

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R nineT Racer

Heritage

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