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No Sleep Till Donington

Conti Racer Till Bechtolsheimer's adventures at the Donington Historic Festival

It’s not all that unusual to spot a contemporary endurance racer at a major Historic Racing festival, whether as a guest star, or as a passionate enthusiast enjoying his, or his friend’s precious racing machinery.

It’s perhaps a little more unusual to come across a New York based racer pedalling an ex DTM MG Metro Turbo at Donington Park, just one of four cars he campaigned at the Donington Historic Festival.

Till Bechtolsheimer loves racing classic and historic cars. He embraces the challenge of narrow tires, live axles, leaf springs, drum brakes, non-stop wheel spin, pre-selector transmissions, turbo lag and the numerous other characteristics of cars dating from the thirties to the early eighties.

The mere act of getting to the track was a key part of the challenge for the New York based Englishman. With all almost all of his 2017 historic events based in the UK and Europe and with his business located in Manhattan, arriving in time to compete required planning at an almost military level.

“I’ll have two hours from touching down in Birmingham to qualifying the Talbot (a 1936 Talbot Lago 150C) so by the time I’ve made the hour journey to Donington and signed-on, there won’t be much time to get my head around the pre-selector gearbox and other quirks that come with pre-war race cars. But that just makes it more exciting,” explained Bechtolsheimer before the weekend’s action.

The 35 year old currently sits third in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge standings and his first full-time foray into contemporary professional racing has somewhat restricted his historic and classic racing plans for 2017.  “With my CJWR commitments, I don’t get to race the old ladies as much as I would like, so I try to pack in as many races and cars as I can on the few weekends that I do get to race them. Unfortunately I was too late entering the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro Buick and the grid had filled up so I’ll only be in four cars this weekend.”

There is no doubt that classic racing gives Bechtolsheimer enormous pleasure and he is relishing the challenge of competing in such a diverse range of cars over the weekend at Donington Park. “I can’t wait to get back into the old cars! It will be my first time in the Talbot T150C and the Chevron B8 (below) but I’m also running the Metro Turbo (above) and my old favorite, the Allard J2, so it should be a busy weekend. Four cars should still be plenty to put a massive smile on my face and wipe me out for the flight home on Sunday evening! By the time I get to COTA next weekend a two hour race in a comfortable modern race car will feel like a picnic!”

Famous last words.

Till’s cars and classes for the Donington Historic Festival were as follows:

1936 Talbot Lago 150C – Mad Jack Pre War Sports Cars (6th & class winner)
1984 Metro Turbo – Historic Touring Car Challenge (25th & 3rd in class)
1968 Chevron B8 – 1000km for Pre-73 Prototype, Touring & GT cars (11th)
1950 Allard J2 – RAC Woodcote Trophy for Pre-56 Sportscars (5th)