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„Gabelbach-Bergrennen“ – Worlds oldest hill race

2013 Ilmenau was celebrating 100 years of the hill race ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’
After serious research in the citys archives by club member Stefan Sandmann, documents were found stating the first race took place in 1904.

Back then the Auto-Klub Ilmenau welcomed the first motorbikes to have a go at the hill. The Victor managed to drive his NSU up the hill in 6 min 40 sec.

This is a sensational, because it means the ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’ is the oldest still existing, international hill race in the History of Motorsports, right here in Ilmenau.

It is an invaluable historical virtue for this town and the club members want to preserve and continue this great tradition.
Back in the day the vehicles would start in town, Lessing park to be precise and the finish line would be the entrance gat of the Gabelbach hotel.

In 1913 Karl Slevogt, one of the most important constructers of his time, as sports director at the ADAC Thuringia invited drivers to the next Gabelbach Bergrennen. For the first time cars were included in the race.

In 1928 the ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’ was at its peak with 121 vehicles competing and 30 000 people watching. Ilmenau became a stage for all great international motor sportsmen of the time, like Bernd Rosemeyer, Manfred von Brauchitsch in a Mercedes and Paul Greifzu on a BMW.

Huldreich Heussers and Rudolph Carraciolas racing history will never be forgotten. Heusser who was one of the best hill drivers during the 1920s won several ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’. His daring driving made him the local matador for Ilmenau. Up until 1927 he and his Steyr were undefeated on the ‘Gabelbach track’. When Steyr retired from motosports he switched to a Bugatti Typ 35B. He managed to beat his own record on the track…again. Heusser already won in the heads of everyone by the racetrack, who was supposed to even beat that time. But then Rudolph Carraciola in a Mercedes SSK, a new compressor race car like it has never been seen before, was sitting in the valley waiting for his turn. He actually won that year and the triumphal march of the SSK began.

The swift development in racing technology can be manifested by Manfred von BRauchitsch trackrecord, set in 1933. He drove up the hill with an average of 114,2 km/h, which was possible because of the paved track. Cars were getting so powerful that races on gravel tracks didn’t have a future. In 1934 the last pre-war ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’ took place.

With a historically limited starter field of 121 vehicles the ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’ had his come back in June 2017 on the original track. After Years of shortend races we finally started in the City again.

With the next Race from 22. to 24. July 2018 the ‘Gabelbach-Bergrennen’ is supposed to be happening annually from now on.


Gabelbach-Bergrennen Ilmenau e.V.
Unterpörlitzerstr. 35, 98693 Ilmenau


Alexander Siefert


Tel. +49 (0) 152 24894681