The Hockenheimring is one of the most modern racetracks in the world – but also one of the most steeped in history. Take a virtual journey into the past and discover, era by era, the exciting history of the Hockenheimring.
1930 to 1932: From the original idea to the first race
Ernst Christ is the true father of the Hockenheimring: It was in 1930 that this young assistant timekeeper came up with a plan to build a racetrack in his home town of Hockenheim. The town's mayor, Philipp Klein, supported the project, and, on Christmas Day, 1931, the munici-pal council unanimously approved the plans for the new circuit.
The building work began on March 23, 1932, and only two months later, on May 25, a dream came true when the first motorcycle race in Hockenheim got under way. For this small town, it marked the beginning of an era that would make its name famous throughout the world.
1938: From triangular to oval
Just six years later, in 1938, the circuit was fundamentally changed. The triangular course was modified to form the circuit that was basically used until the end of 2001. Through the inclusion of the Ostkurve, the Hockenheimring took on its famous oval form and, with the track being made wider at the same time, it became a true high-speed circuit. In terms of safety, the new "Kurpfalzring" was at that time considered exemplary.
1947 to 1963: The restart
In the Second World War, the Hockenheimring had been seriously damaged. Tracked vehicles had demolished the roadway and the wooden structures had been torn down. Nevertheless, the motor sports fans in the region were keen to get things going again, and in 1947, the Hockenheim-Ring GmbH was established to look after the economic side of the organisation. On May 11, 1947, only two years after the end of the War, cars started thundering around the circuit again. The first German Motorcycle Grand Prix was held at Hockenheim on May 19, 1957.
1961 to 1966: The Motodrom is born
At the beginning of the sixties, because of the new Mannheim-Walldorf motorway, changes to the Hockenheimring became unavoidable. In 1961, Ernst Christ came up with the spectator-friendly Motodrom concept. The building work began in spring 1964. On May 22, 1966, the then German Transport Minister, Dr. Hans-Christoph Seebohm, opened the new Motodrom for the German Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Since 1970: Formula 1
The royal class came to the Kurpfalz 35 years ago: On August 2, 1970, the first Formula 1 race was held in Hockenheim. More than 100,000 spectators witnessed Jochen Rindt's victory in a Lotus-Ford. In 1971, Formula 1 returned to the Nürburgring, but in 1976, Niki Lauda had a serious crash on the Nordschleife. After that, Formula 1 came back to Hockenheim in 1977. There was one interruption – in 1985 for the opening of the new Nürburgring. Ever since then, the German Formula 1 Grand Prix has been held at the Hockenheimring.
1999 to 2003: Rebuilding work
Because the old circuit was too long (6.8 km), and because various sections of it ran through dense woods where it was inaccessible for spectators, plans were forged in 1999 to design a shorter circuit with more possibilities for overtaking. On December 21, 2001, Hockenheim-Ring Besitz GmbH received approval for the project, and work began on February 4, 2002.
On completion of the rebuilding work at a cost of some 62 million euros, the Hockenheimring was now more attractive than ever. Two kilometres shorter, the new circuit guaranteed plenty of exciting overtaking manoeuvres, and, with the new stands, the capacity increased from 83,000 to 120,000. The new motoring safety centre was a further new attraction.