How it all began… Walter Röhrl talks about the beginnings of the BILSTER BERG
“Man, it’s even better! If you go down over the hilltop there. You absolutely have to drive there!”
Quote Walter Röhrl
And this is how the Mausefalle at BILSTER BERG came into existence. Two men in rubber boots trudge through the forest, through impassable undergrowth, through waist-high grass and vines. This is what it looked like at BILSTER BERG in 2009. An old military site that had lain abandoned for 20 years – reclaimed by nature.
The constructors of Germany’s youngest racetrack to date had a vision and provided the best advice and support. One of these supporters was Walter Röhrl, two-time rally world champion and racetrack driver – a legend of motorsport.
At the marathon of the Oldtimer Grandprix, which Walter Röhrl competed in every year at the time, he competed against the person who had come up with the initial idea. There they got talking and Walter Röhrl found the idea for a race track in the Teutoburg Forest interesting. In fact, he let himself be persuaded to make the long journey to East Westphalia to have a look at the site.
“The first time I came here, there were these very narrow entrance roads with huge concrete walls sandwiched in between in case there’s an explosion. So at the beginning you’re already saying: Oh, where can you build a racetrack here?”.
But the longer Röhrl looked at the terrain, the more clearly he saw the race track in his mind’s eye. Even though it was difficult to imagine the vegetation being gone, ideas for a spectacular race track emerged.
“Of course, we have always assumed that the only true and proper race track in the world is the Nürburgring Nordschleife. That something like that is no longer built in this day and age was also pretty clear. But we wanted to achieve something close to the same.”
Walter Röhrl immediately saw that the terrain with its great differences in altitude made an emotionally charged route possible. He encouraged the decision-makers to go even further into the extreme. Thus, the Mausefalle was strongly influenced by Röhrl’s assessment and today delights every motorsport heart with its 26% gradient and 21% incline.
The former rally world champion was so enthusiastic about the project that he not only contributed his experience. He also helped with his many contacts in motorsport.
“At that time, I tried to practically sell the package. It was pretty much the first time that you could buy ownership shares in a racetrack and then be involved there yourself. It was so new that many, especially from a distance, were very sceptical.”
The general interest was there, Röhrl reports. The offer was very attractive because the cars could remain at the BILSTER BERG and one could regularly get exclusive driving appointments. At that time, more than 150 partners were acquired, most of whom have remained loyal to the BILSTER BERG to this day.
The construction work began in 2011 and Röhrl now followed the developments from afar. When he came to the newly opened BILSTER BERG for the first time in 2014, he was very impressed by how a race track could be created from the overgrown military site in just 20 months. At that time, the new Porsche 911 was presented to international media and Walter Röhrl was a guest at the BILSTER BERG.
“I still remember it all too well from the first presentation. I can only say that the feedback from the journalists, the Americans, they were totally freaked out back then and said: “This track is so unique! This is really great!” The Italians and Spaniards, who are of course all car-crazy, were also just thrilled. You could sense that from the people.”
Overall, Walter Röhrl gives the BILSTER BERG only good references. Only the weather at the BERG occasionally annoys him.
“The first time I was here, I had my wife with me. That was in early summer. My wife had to go into town to buy a winter coat because it was so cold. That was funny too.”
He was also surprised by the media drive of the new Porsche 911 GT3 this year.
“I drove out of the pit lane straight into the snow shower. It lasted exactly the five laps I was driving. The wheels just went grrr, grrr. It was great!”
Walter Röhrl laughs it off. We say: Anyone who wants a second Nürburgring must also be able to cope with Eifel weather.
As an honorary member of the Owner’s Club, the community of shareholders at the BILSTER BERG, Walter Röhrl is happy about the development of the BILSTER BERG and enjoys being a guest at the race track. On his next visit, perhaps already this summer, there should be more laps in even better weather. We are already looking forward to it.