Nurburgring’s Days of Glory Come Alive in the Werner Winter Collection
The legendary Nurburgring race track was the site of many of the greatest sports car, formula car, and motorcycle races of the 20th Century. Predecessor of the current, much shorter, Grand Prix circuit it was completed in 1925. In its’ early configuration, the “Ring” wound dramatically for more than 17 miles through the heavily wooded Eifel Mountains in the Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany. With elevations varying more than 1,000 feet and 174 bends, the circuit was enormously challenging to drivers and became increasingly so as the performance characteristics of race cars evolved.
Until the Ring’s sad demise under the financial burdens of modern Formula One organizational demands, the venerable circuit was synonymous with the German Grand Prix. The mecca of motor racing for forty-nine years, the track hosted legendary drivers from the ultimate “Ringmeister” Rudolf Caracciola to the victor at its final Grand Prix, James Hunt, in 1976. Other Ringmeisters (the term for repeat winners) included Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Tony Brooks, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees and Jacky Ickx. Nearly every famous name associated with motor sports in the 20th Century can be found in the entry lists of the Ring.
Werner Winter is a German publisher and former Automobil Club von Deutschland (AvD) official, long associated with Nurburgring and its successor venue for the German Grand Prix, Hockenheimring. He chose the IMRRC as the repository for his working papers. Winter’s collection of the Nurburgring magazine, dating from 1927 through his own tenure as publisher in the 1970’s, is stunning – comprised of 76 meticulously preserved individual issues of this prestigious periodical, famous for dramatic cover art, with lavish illustrations and photography accompanying its fine articles and written features. Together with pristine-condition race programs for nearly every race held at Nurburgring from May 1928 to August 1975, these beautifully designed and illustrated publications constitute what may be the most complete collection of Nurburgring printed materials extant.
These rewarding gems, however, are only a portion of the Werner Winter Collection. A publisher of multi-lingual trade directories for the paper, plastic and automotive industries, Winter (b. 1937) also has a long-time involvement with motor racing as a businessman, publicity expert and aficionado. For two years he published the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring magazines and was for many years involved in promotional publicity for Hockenheimring and Nurburgring, He developed creative techniques for marketing motor racing events, especially among American servicemen who constituted a large potential audience in West Germany during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
As a result of Winter’s public relations efforts, the collection includes an extensive compilation of promotional materials for Nurburgring races from 1968 to 1987 and Hockenheimring races from 1968 to 1996. Organized chronologically, these nine large binders include race programs, posters, tickets, photographs and press releases.
Winter’s collection is uniquely valuable as the repository of the publisher’s working files for Nurburgring magazine (1976-1979) and Hockenheimring magazine (1971-1972). Winter recalls that “since motor sport was both fun and business for me, I signed a contract with the Hockenheim track owners to publish the Hockenheimring magazine….I was happy and proud to run articles from almost any known member of the International Racing Press Association, Denis Jenkinson (the greatest of them all), Peter Lyons, Nigel Roebuck, Eoin Young, etc., illustrated by the brilliant pictures of artists like Rainler Schlegelmilch.” The working files contain a wealth of original photographs, slides, correspondence, notes, and printed materials used in preparation of each bi-annual issue.
A respected figure in the racing world, Winter’s professional talent is complimented by his zest for life and sense of humor. Reflecting on his motor racing experiences, Winter writes, “At the races I spent most of my time in the good company of my best friend for almost forty years, Randy Barnett [whose remarkable collection also resides in the IMRRC], motorsports editor of the Darmstadt based Stars & Stripes. The motor sport editors were in those days a real brotherhood. Extremely funny guys, the first to enter and the last to leave bars at Monza, Brands Hatch, Zolder and Nurburgring.”
The contents are open to researchers and others interested in this fascinating era of racing history. Those who wish to access the collection may contact the IMRRC to schedule an appointment.