Zakspeed - Team that has earned a legendary status
Erich Zakowski in 1968 founded the new racing team and named it Zakspeed. Over the decades Zakspeed competed in various categories, including the Formula 1.
The team based in the town of Niederzissen, about 25 km from Nurburgring, won numerous races and titles with various cars, including BMW, Jaguar, Nissan, Mercedes, Opel, Dodge, Ford, Porsche, Chrysler, Volvo and Saleen. Since the early 1970s, Zakspeed scored more than 400 race wins and won more than 20 championship titles.
Zakspeed is more than a racing team
Many famous names were the drivers of Zakspeed, including Jackie Stewart, Uwe Alzen, Bernd Schneider, Klaus Ludwig, Bobby Rahal, Hans Heyer, Kurt Thiim, Jody Scheckter, Martin Brundle, Bryan Herta, Tom Coronel, Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Pedro Lamy and many other created the history of the team. During its relatively short and not so glorious period in Formula 1 during the 1980s, Zakspeed alongside Ferrari was the only team to produce its complete vehicle, including engine and gearbox.
Apart from the usual motorsport activities, development and construction of the racing cars, Zakspeed is also known for restoration of historic vehicles. In addition, Zakspeed founded the “Zakspeed Racing School” in 1990, the first permanent racing school in Germany. After all, Zakspeed is certainly one of the biggest and most important teams in the history of the motorsport in Germany.
In 1973 Zakspeed entered Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DRM) series, a predecessor of the DTM series, as the official Ford team. With the FIA Group 2 Ford Escort, Zakspeed won four consecutive titles from 1973 to 1976. In 1981, with Ford Capri, Zakspeed won its fifth DRM title and at the end of the year retired from the series.
Parallel to the commitments in DRM, Zakspeed also entered cars in other racing series and had a considerable success. In 1974, the team won European Touring Car Championship title. Three years later European Hillclimb Championship also was won while in 1980 Zakspeed triumphed in the Italian Touring Car Championship with Ford Escort. Finally, successful period of cooperation with Ford was ended in 1982 when another European Hillclimb Championship title was won with Ford Capri.
Formula 1 was (too) big challenge
After many successes in touring cars racing, Zakspeed in 1985 tried his luck in Formula 1 what was enthusiastic and brave try. Unfortunately, during five years Zakspeed wasn’t able to taste success in the most prominent series. The German team constructed its own car but struggled a lot and during five seasons only once scored points. It was at 1987 San Marino Grand Prix when Martin Brundle finished 5th what was a historic moment for the team.
Finally, after the horrible season of 1989 which was marked by awful performances in prequalifying, Zakspeed was forced to retire from the Formula 1. Reliance on their own forces and knowledge wasn’t enough and this episode has ended ingloriously.
Parallel to the duties in Formula 1, Zakspeed team also competed in the Interserie Group C, the US SportsCar Series, and finally in DTM where the team won the title in 1987 with BMW M3.
More duties during the 1990s
After an unsuccessful attempt in Formula 1, Zakspeed in the 1990s became involved in some lower ranks of the formula racing. Peter Zakowski took the reigns of the team from his father and bought some new ideas and energy. Three titles were won in the Formula Renault Series, in 1992, 1994, and 1998. In the short-lived ITC Series, Zakspeed also won the title in 1994, with Mercedes 190, while in the VLN Series Zakspeed became a champion in 1999, with Dodge Viper GTS-R. The same year victory at Nurburgring 24 Hours was scored. The drivers of the winning Viper were Peter Zakowski, Hans-Jurgen Tiemann, Klaus Ludwig, and Marc Duez.
Apart from this, the Niederzissen-based team also raced in the Formula 3, FIA GT World Championship, and entered numerous 24-hour races and other endurance events all over the world.
Endurance racing became a priority at the beginning of the new century
At the beginning of the 2000s Zakspeed team competed in various endurance championships. However, the best results were achieved with the NASCAR-like tube frame prototype cars in the V8 Star Championship. The team dominated the series from 2001 to 2003 and won three consecutive Teams’ Championship titles, as well as one Drivers’ Championship.
In 2008 and 2009 Zakspeed also successfully managed the Superleague Formula cars for a couple of teams and added more silverware to its showcase by winning the title in 2008. Among other duties, Zakspeed in the first decade of the new century also appeared in the FIA GT Championship, VLN, Superstars Italia, and ADAC GT Masters.
Zakspeed – 2015 ADAC GT Masters champions
Since 2010 Zakspeed team focused to the national championships, with ADAC GT Masters and VLN as the priorities. The results weren’t perfect until 2015 when Zakspeed triumphed in the Drivers’ Championship ADAC GT Masters, with Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, while the team was 2nd in the standings.
Apart from ADAC GT Masters and VLN, Zakspeed in 2017 debuted in various classes of the fast-growing Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with two Mercedes-AMG GT3s.