DTM – 55 Minutes of Racing Excitement
The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) is an exciting touring car race series. It is known for its competitive nature and fast-paced thrills. According to Top Gear, DTM features “some of the coolest racing machinery” to speed around racetracks. DTM attracts fans from all over the globe thanks to its unique drama and rivalries.
It is claimed that DTM is the way racing should be as the cars are race versions of vehicles a good number of people can buy. DTM’s simplicity compared to other motorsports such as Formula One makes it revered by motorsports fans thus generating plenty of excitement.
The original DTM was established in 1984 as the Deutschen Produktionswagen Meisterschaft. The first year saw 12 events take place across Germany. The DTM season started in March at Zolder and ended in September at the famous Nurburgring.
Drivers sped around the 12 racetracks in cars such as Rover Vitesse, BMW 635 CSi, Alfa Romeo GTV6, Ford Capri, Chevrolet Camaro, and Volvo 240 Turbo. The first DTM season was won by German Volker Strycek behind the wheel of a BMW 535 CSi. He won the title without a single race victory.
By the touring car series’ second year, it had grown, and more non-German car makers had entered. Sweden’s Volvo won the 1985 championship with driver Per Stureson behind the wheel. The next year saw the racing league won by a third different team. The British made Rover SD1 driven by Kurt Thiim took top-prize.
The 1988 season had four manufacturers including, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Opel. The championship went to Ford. Opel had only just joined the series that season and struggled to challenge the other three for the title. The following year saw the competition officially change its name to Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft.
Ford left DTM at the end of the 1989 season. Replacing the American brand was Germany’s Audi, who won the DTM championship in its first season thanks to driver Hans-Joachim Stuck. Audi’s win came thanks to its V8 engine and four-wheel drive Quattro. The following year, Audi became the first manufacturer to win back to back DTM championships.
The 1992 season saw one of the most unique moments in DTM history as Ellen Lohr became the first and only female driver to win a race. However, the title belonged to Mercedes’ Klaus Ludwig, who became the first driver to win two championships.
As the mid-1990s dawned, DTM made several rule and specification changes. Engines and car designs could all be altered in new ways. The 1995 season saw DTM become an international event with races in the United Kingdom, France, and Portugal. Due to races occurring across Europe, the International Touring Car Series (ITC) was developed to run alongside DTM.
After a three-year layoff, DTM returned in 2000. Dubbed the “new” DTM, it featured less expensive touring cars than in previous years. DTM 2000 was more focused on being German. Staging races outside the country had compromised the original series. Now, DTM was more German-centric than ever. By the 2002 season, however, DTM was staging races around Europe once more.
For much of the 2000s, Audi and Mercedes were the top competitors in DTM. However, after a 20-year absence, BMW returned to the sport in 2012. The carmaker won the championship in its return thanks to Bruno Spengler.
At the end of the 2018 season, Mercedes finally withdrew from DTM. The move sent shockwaves through the motorsport as one of its most successful carmakers left. The company’s departure was intended to help devote resources to its Formula E ambitions.
DTM has been made up of some of the race world’s biggest manufacturers. Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Opel, Volvo, and Ford have all manufactured cars for the motorsport. Modern DTM features just three car manufacturers: BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-AMG. Audi fields three race teams while both of its competitors have two.
The racing league controls the car chassis and engines used by each team, and all three current teams supply the chassis and engines. Each touring car is a racing version of vehicles that can be purchased at a regular car dealership.
In 2018, DTM required state-of-the-art two-liter 4-cylinder turbo engines. The engines produce around 620 bhp and accelerate the DTM cars to over 186 mph. The aero design of DTM frontends was adapted to gather more air for cooling the engine and the brakes. DTM also required the front and rear diffuser and the rear wing to be modified to meet regulations.
DTM features two races during a weekend event. The races are 55 minutes long with a complete lap to finish. Drivers must make at least one pit stop and take on four new tires. The races are held on back to back days (Saturday and Sunday).
Grid qualifying takes place before the race. The qualifying session is 20 minutes long. Drivers are allowed free practice sessions on the Friday before the first race and the morning before qualifying.
Drivers are not allowed to communicate with their teams. The rule is in place to reduce the possibility of tactical and strategic planning. Teams can only communicate with the drivers using pit boards. The boards can only be used to inform drivers of planned pit stops and emergency situations.
DTM is a thrill a minute on the racetrack. It is “racing as it is meant to be” as drivers get behind the wheel of souped-up cars that the average person can identify with. However, with the emphasis on clean energy and the departure of Mercedes for Formula E, it remains to be seen how much longer DTM will continue to exist in its current form.