Joachim Winkelhock is a former racing driver from Germany and the brother of the late Formula 1 driver Manfred Winkelhock. The youngest brother Thomas is also a racing driver and also Manfred's son Markus.
Joachim was born on 24th of October, 1960 in Waiblingen near Stuttgart. "Smokin’ Jo“, which is his nickname, started the racing career in 1979 driving a Renault Five. In 1982, he raced in Formula Ford 1600 while in 1983, he debuted in the German Formula 3 championship in which he competed until 1985 when his brother Manfred was killed in a crash.
Retirement after brother's death
Joachim decided to leave racing when his brother died, but then he returned behind the wheel in 1987. He drove WTS Racing’s Reynard 873-Volkswagen in 1987 and won the final round and finished as runner-up behind a dominant Bernd Schneider. The following year, he won the German Formula 3 title as well as the European Cup.
Joachim Winkelhock, Nürburgring 1986,
Unsuccessful try in Formula 1
In 1988, he won two titles and so in 1989, Winkelhock tried to make his name in Formula 1. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful. As a driver of AGS team, Joachim failed in pre-qualifying for seven races and soon he retired from the series.
Joachim Winkelhock, AGS-Ford JH23B, 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, Imola
However, that wasn’t the end of Winkelhock’s racing career. Parallel to his single-seaters career, Joachim sporadically raced in various touring cars championships. In 1986, he even won the title in minor German Porsche 944 Turbo Cup. In 1990, Winkelhock linked up with BMW in touring car racing and DTM.
Two consecutive wins at Nurburgring and DTM debut
The beginning with BMW was very good. Winkelhock won 24h of Nurburgring in 1990 and in 1991 he won driving a BMW M3. In 1992, while driving the same car, he debuted in DTM and won the race at Norisring before finishing 8th in the Drivers’ championship. Interestingly, after that campaign Joachim left DTM but then he returned after eight years.
Joachim Winkelhock had an unsuccessful try in Formula 1
1993 BTCC champion
Winkelhock entered the British Touring Car Championship in 1993 and that proved to be a perfect move. Driving a BMW 318i he won the title in his first attempt, scoring five wins and having other four podiums. That year he earned his famous nickname for his cigarette smoking habit.
Smokin' Jo was 1993 BTCC champion
He stayed in the series for another two years but they weren’t so successful in comparison to his first season. Winkelhock scored a total of eight race wins but in 1994 Jo finished 6th while in 1995 he took the 5th position.
Achieving good results all over the world
Over the years, Joachim won many titles and races. He won the 1994 Asia-Pacific Touring Cars champion and won Macau Grand Prix for touring cars. In 1995, Winkelhock won 24 Hours of Spa and also won the title in the German Supertouring Championship.
Joachim Smokin Jo Winkelhock with his teammates
One of Winkelhock’s biggest achievements was a triumph at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999. Driving a BMW Motorsport’s prototype V12 LMR alongside Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas, Joachim triumphed at Circuit de la Sarthe which was his last success achieved with the Bavarian manufacturer.
Return to DTM
Eight years after his last race in DTM, Winkelhock returned to the popular German racing championship. He joined Opel team with which he stayed until 2003. The first year spent in the seat of Team Holzer’s Opel Astra V8 Coupe was the best one. Joachim again won at Norisring, thrice finished 2nd and once was 3rd which was enough for the 5th position in the final standings.
Joachim Winkelhock, Opel DTM, Hockenheim, 2003
In 2003, Joachim picked points only once. Finally, he decided to retire from motorsports at the age of 43. After all, he should be happy with his achievements and his success.
After retiring, Winkelhock began truck-crane and towing business. In 1991, a special edition of BMW M5 has been made in honor of Joachim. A total of 51 models were made during the year, all painted Jet Black with contrasting lower body panels in Sterling Silver metallic.