German racing driver Volker Strycek earned his place in a motorsport history as the first DTM champion in 1984, driving the BMW 635 CSi. Later in a career, Strycek was driving for Opel. After a retirement from professional racing career, he had a few managing positions in Opel. He was the head of Opel Motorsport and he was the managing director of the Opel Performance Center (OPC).
He was one of four Opel drivers who scored the first and only Opel's victory at 24 hours of Nürburgring in 2003. Strycek never completely retired from racing. Recently he participated in the endurance races at Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Volker Strycek - the first DTM champion
Successful start of a career with Renault
Volker Strycek was born on October 13, 1957, in Essen. He started racing in 1977, entering the Renault 5 Cup. Next year, he became a champion. In 1980, he participated in one race of the German Racing Championship (DRM – Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft), driving the BMW M1 at Nürburgring.
From 1981 to 1983, Strycek's main competition was Renault 5 Turbo Eurocup, but he also competed with other cars in various touring car races. In 1981, he took a class victory at 1000 km of Nürburgring with Toyota Celica. In the same race in 1983, he didn't reach the finish because he had an accident with BMW 320.
Strycek's BMW 635 CSi
The first ever DTM champion
In 1984, Strycek was participating in the inaugural season of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), driving the BMW 635 CSi for Gubin Sport. He became the first DTM champion, although he didn't win any race. In thirteen races, Strycek scored four podiums and won the title ahead of Olaf Manthey.
Besides driving BMW in DTM, Strycek competed for the first time with Opel at 24 hours of Spa in July. His co-drivers in the #40 Opel Manta were Erwin Weber and Karl-Heinz Schafer. They finished 22nd.
Volker Strycek in Opel Omega
Ten seasons in DTM without wins
After winning his first DTM trophy, Strycek remained in the premier German touring car competition until 1993, driving BMWs until 1988 and then he switched to Opel in 1989. He never won a single race in DTM and he scored only one podium in 1985.
Besides DTM, Strycek had some appearances in other series. In 1988, he participated in six races of the European Touring Car Championship, combining BMW M3 and Toyota Supra 3.0i. His best result was the 4th place at Vallelunga when he was sharing BMW M3 with Roberto Ravaglia and Emanuele Pirro.
Opel boss Volker Strycek and Mercedes boss Norbert Haug
Volker Strycek joined Opel in 1989
After driving three different BMWs (635 CSi, 325i and M3) between 1984 and 1988, Strycek's DTM car in 1989 was Opel Kadett GSi 16V of Kissling Motorsport. In 1990, he joined Opel Team Irmscher and competed with Opel Omega 3000 for the next four seasons.
In 1992, Strycek became Opel's DTM project manager. After two seasons of doing two jobs, as a manager and as a driver, he left the cockpit of a race car at the end of 1993 season. Strycek led Opel to championship titles in the 1996 International Touring Car Championship, both in drivers' and manufacturers' classification. After that success, he became the head chief of Opel Motorsport.
Volker Strycek with Opel drivers at 2003 Nurburgring 24h
Strycek led Opel to only 24h Nürburgring victory
In 1999, Strycek led the Opel Performance Center (OPC). His idea was to transfer DTM cars to long and bumpy Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, so he entered the 1999 24h of Nürburgring with DTM-spec Opel Calibra V8.
Other DTM manufacturers followed Opel, so in the 2003 edition of the race, all three DTM brands (Audi, BMW and Opel) entered the famous endurance race at the Green Hell with their V8 cars. Phoenix Racing's crew (Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider and Marcel Tiemann), led by Strycek, won the race with Opel Astra V8 Coupe. It was the first Opel's overall victory at 24h of Nürburgring and it remained Opel's only victory in that race.
Strycek family: Robin, Lena and Volker
Regular competitor at the Green Hell
Since then, Strycek regularly competed at Nürburgring's 24-hour race, driving Opels, sometimes two different cars during one race. That was the case in 2015 when he took two class victories with two different cars – Opel Astra OPC and Opel Manta. His racing partners in some races were his son Robin and his daughter Lena. Between 2009 and 2015, Volker participated in six rally events in Germany, driving various versions of Opel rally cars.
Besides driving and managing duties, Strycek was also a sports president and a vice-president of AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland) and a professor at Technische Universität Berlin.