The big comeback: DTM at Circuit Zolder
Huge social, tourist and economic impact
The Deutsche Tourenwagen-Masters (DTM) will be held in Zolder in May of next year. Bringing over the DTM, the main European racing competition, is fantastic news to the race course, the province, Flanders and especially to Belgium, which will have a huge impact. Both in a sports and tourist sense. On 18 and 19 May, an estimated 70,000 DTM fans – particularly from Germany as well as from Belgium, The Netherlands and France – will be making their way to Zolder.
The DTM is to Zolder what the Formula 1 competition is to Spa
To Circuit Zolder and to Belgian motorsports in general, the DTM coming over is tantamount to the prestige the Formula 1 competition lends Spa, a showpiece event to be proud of! Which explains why Circuit Zolder is eagerly looking forward to turning this into a successful event and to pull out all the stops.
“It’s true to say that this is the biggest race we could hope to land. We’re terribly pleased that it’s our turn to host this great event. The DTM in turn also views Zolder as an opportunity and a great location to set up an international event. A geographical area that ranges from the mid-Netherlands to northern France in length and the Ruhr area in width, with Belgium as its central anchor point. This puts Zolder back on the map of motorsports in no uncertain terms. This is the icing on the cake, after years of hard work,” Circuit Zolder’s General Manager Sven Pribylla explains.
Drawing 110,000 visitors again?
DTM and Zolder are old friends. In fact, this is going to be a kind of home-coming to DTM, which now runs four manches in Germany and another 5 scattered across Europe. The DTM championship saw the light of day in Zolder, developing out of the numerous races staged by German car clubs which frequently pulled over in Zolder starting back in the 1960s, on the strength of the smooth-paced cooperation and the magnificent setting. The German racing fans used to turn their races into weekend outings.
Uninterrupted from 1984 through 1994, and again in 2002 the German cars took to Zolder to do their racing. In 1984, Circuit Zolder was the venue of the very first race meeting, which was still called Deutsche Produktionswagen-Meisterschaft at the time. In 1993, the DTM even drew a record turn-out of 110,000 fans. The German championship, along with the Formula 1, which descended on Zolder until 1984, made the race track and Zolder famous in every corner of Europe.
“We keep on offering a well-balanced mix of events at Germany’s most popular racetracks and attractive circuits in further European markets,” underlines ITR’s Managing Director Achim Kostron. “In 2018, we returned – after long breaks – to the United Kingdom and Italy – two countries with huge motor-sport tradition and enthusiastic crowds. It’s extremely important for us to keep on gaining a foothold there and increase our fan base. I particularly look forward to the DTM debut at Assen’s GP circuit. The Netherlands traditionally have been a constant of the DTM calendar and in 2019 we will hold our debut meeting at the tradition-rich TT Circuit. And the comeback at Zolder, so to speak the ‘birthplace’ of DTM, of course has got a very special charm.”
Broadcast live in over 150 countries worldwide
Obviously the Deutsche Tourenwagen-Masters is German in origin but is increasingly spreading its wings across the whole of Europe. Zolder is now joining the ranks of other ‘foreign’ DTM destinations such as Brands Hatch in England, Hungaroring in Hungary, Spielberg in Austria and Misano in Italy. For 2019, the DTM calendar features a grand total of 9 race meetings.
The roster of competitors has a distinct international flavour, including famous names such as Timo Glock, René Rast and Paul Di Resta. The races are broadcast live in 150 countries around the world.
Economic boost and top tourist hot spot
“I remember the glory years with the Formula 1 and the DTM races back in the day and I feel pretty confident that the DTM’s return to Zolder will mark the start of a new purple patch. The DTM’s comeback opens new prospects,” Circuit Zolder’s Chairman Jacques Heynen goes on to add.
"I remember the DTM’s heyday way back when, and I’m feeling pretty confident that this will mark the start of a new chapter. The DTM’s comeback – returning to its Heimat - opens new prospects. This is a personal dream of mine come true. In recent years, Circuit Zolder has been working hard to raise its national and its international profile as a tourist destination for the whole family, which also hosts any number of other events alongside motorsports. The efforts we will be making to welcome the DTM back in perfect conditions will only benefit the race track’s overall operation. The DTM weekend is set to be an absolute tourist highlight for the entire province. That’s without even mentioning the appeal and prestige this brings to the entire region in other countries”, Jacques Heynen adds.
A festive event alongside others
Needless to say the weekend of 18-19 May 2019 is set to be the busiest. But let’s not forget that the Circuit Zolder’s 2019 calendar also features other top attractions such as the UCI BMX World Champions 2019 and the European NASCAR finals (now 20 and 21 October).
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