But anyone who climbs into a car next to a motorsport legend like Hans-Joachim Stuck – nickname: Strietzel, Formula 1 driver in the 1970s, two-time LeMans winner in the 1980s and German touring car champion of 1990 – doesn’t want to be a complete disappointment, even as a newcomer.
Strietzel Stuck is relaxed. “Great route, isn’t it?” he says, after we cross the light barrier late, then laughs. We park the Beetle with a skid to line it up with the other cars. The cable car ride to the almost 3,000-meter-high Dachstein, which was planned to follow the rally, has had to be canceled because of strong wind and snowfall.
The rally beetle
As in previous years, a number of unusual vehicles are lined up at the start for the 23rd edition of the Planai Classic. The oldest model is an open Sunbeam Supersport, model year 1930, 2,980 ccm, 120 hp. A yellow Opel GT is also there, alongside classics by Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Volvo, Porsche 911s and 912s and a Volkswagen Buggy from 1966 with a soft top and zippers on the side windows. Most strongly represented in the field, however, are Volkswagen Beetles. “It’s the ideal vehicle for this,” Strietzel Stuck explains: “Rear-wheel drive, sits low at the back – it’s perfectly suited.”