I’ve already been up there in the Eifel mountains a few times, always with a Continental truck. This year the atmosphere was just as great as before the Covid-pandemic. And with almost as many people: 130,300 says the organizer ADAC, Germany’s biggest automobile club. But 10,000 people more or less on the huge site, maybe it doesn’t really matter. I just think it’s amazing when people from all over Germany and our neighboring countries come together to celebrate the truck and the driver’s job. Because in addition to the races on the track and the trade fair with more than 60 exhibitors, the Truck Grand-Prix is a gigantic party by and for drivers. Many trucking companies go on a company outing with all their cars and the whole team. It’s like Oktoberfest in Munich – but for truckers. Crazy!
Steep and narrow – from the Ahr Valley to the Nürburgring
Even the journey to the Nürburgring is a little adventure itself. If you’re coming from Cologne/Bonn like me, you have to take the last few kilometers on narrow, winding, and steep country roads. On the way, you’ll see the Ahr valley, which was devastated by the floods two years ago, and then it’s up into the Eifel mountains. The engine is slogging away! I’m on the road with the diesel, which I then park about three kilometers away from the racetrack near Adenau in a guarded parking lot.
From now on, the electric tractor from Designwerk takes over. Jens is already waiting for me with the “Black Beast,” his name for the black e-truck from Continental’s development partner. I already got to to drive this special vehicle two or three times. Once again, I’m surprised at how quiet an electric motor is compared to a diesel engine. In the cab, I can only hear the tires running very quietly, and that’s it. Otherwise, this truck also has – surprise – an accelerator and a brake pedal. In the cabin, there aren’t that many differences to a diesel at first glance. After all, the Designwerk truck is based on a Volvo series-production vehicle.
A good night’s sleep? Not at the Truck Grand-Prix!
July 13 is the first visitor day at the Truck Grand-Prix. More and more people arrive with their trucks. When they drive through the traffic circle at the Ringcenter in the direction of the Müllenbachschleife, they honk their horns. One or the other sound is not quite compatible with the road traffic regulations… In any case, we all hear a honking concert all day long, which mixes with the hum of the engines and the music snatches and basses from the countless loudspeakers. Many children who are out and about here wear hearing protection. Right on! And, of course, it’s not night rest at 10 p.m. either. In the hotel room, I can still hear truck horns at the traffic circle at half past three in the morning. Normal, it’s Truck Grand-Prix, isn’t it?
Everything is perfectly prepared at Continental’s show truck
Starting at 8 in the morning I prepare the show truck: Unlocking the doors, switching on the power, booting up the main computer, switching on the monitors, hanging up the iPads, checking the technology, putting the two tire exhibits in front of the trailer, and setting up the yellow counter for the presents – the same procedure every morning. I also polish all the tires on the trailer to a high gloss: lathering, scrubbing, polishing. It has to be flashing and blinking! I always make sure that everything is tidy and that there is no garbage or anything else lying around. I want Continental to present a top image here! Directly opposite are several tents where the company entertains its customers and invited guests. From that position I can perfectly observe the track. Honestly, not a bad place at all!
Sensors in the tire and the E-Truck surprise many visitors
From ten o’clock on, the trade fair mile slowly fills up, and it also gets busier at our truck. Thilo, Steffi and many other nice colleagues from Continental’s event team have also arrived. We have already grown together through the #ContiEuropeanRoadshow and get along really well. Outside, the first people are battling it out at our football table and taking part in the raffle. The prize is tickets for the national soccer team. On Thursday and Friday, the sun is shining brightly, and many visitors are happy to take along a straw hat with a yellow Continental band.
On Saturday, there’s also a rain shower, so the black baseball caps are more popular. Steffi and Thilo take turns guiding visitors through the show truck. The fleet customers often have special questions, since they are tire experts themselves. Other visitors are surprised to learn that tires today contain sensors that provide all kinds of information. And Jens from Designwerk is outside answering questions about the electric tractor. Here, too, there are many surprised faces: Driving more than 700 kilometers on one battery charge? Unbelievable!
On Saturday afternoon, football coaching legend Peter Neururer and TV commentator Oliver Forster join us at the booth. They talk a bit, entertain the guests and hand over the prizes – a jersey of the national team with all signatures and VIP tickets. Many people want to take selfies with Neururer. As a BVB fan, I don’t like him that much – after all, he once coached our local rivals Schalke and Bochum. But at least he’s now standing in front of our black and yellow show truck, which – to be clear – are the colors of my club Borussia Dortmund…
Totally close to the fans – Jochen Hahn and the other race drivers
If there is time in between, I always like to walk around the exhibition grounds. It’s completely inside the racetrack and is directly connected to the pit lane and the paddock. It’s cool that everything is so open here! A Dutch team simply changes the crankcase of the tractor in the midst of the many visitors. Jochen Hahn, six-time European truck racing champion, is walking around in his racing suit. His team is presenting the first all-electric racing truck by Iveco – I guess Continental and Designwerk are in line with the trend.
Admittedly, I still like the diesel, too. I especially like to stop at Scania: They’re showing two high-end tractors that look really great from the outside and have a lot going on under the hood. You can see what is possible with the old technology today. The special paint jobs that many trucks and trailers have are also striking. The colleagues from Heide-Logistik in Verden are there with four trucks that have been painted very elaborately in airbrush technique. The complete Wild West is depicted – cowboys, Indians, horses, stagecoaches… The Viking livery is not bad either. Must have cost quite a bit!
The Müllenbachschleife is the place to be
In the late afternoon, we then disassemble our show truck again for the night. So: Put the counter and tire exhibits into the tent, shut down the technology, collect the iPads, turn off the lights, shut down the main computer, turn off the power, lock the doors. Then it’s off to the hotel for dinner. Once it gets dark, the leisurely part of the evening follows. Then we all go down to the Müllenbachschleife together. There, all the trucks of the colleagues are lined up like a cordon, making their company outing to the Truck Grand-Prix. There are hundreds of them, and in the middle people can walk through to the huge main stage and the beer stands.
Country bands play there on Friday night, and Mallorca acts like Lorenz Büffel and Schürze perform on Saturday. Shortly after eleven on Saturday evening, the first colorful rockets of the big fireworks light up the night sky. In addition, one honks, as the stuff holds. And everyone has their spotlights and additional lighting on. I only know this light show from the Truck Grand-Prix. Unbelievably beautiful (by the way, even people who are not professional drivers themselves say so…)!
After the fireworks, the party continues, of course. Some trucking companies have converted trailers into dance floors. We’re going to Kevin Kiessling’s place again this evening. He’s the owner and CEO of SKS logistics, a longtime Continental customer. His team specializes in delivering motorcycles and is a certified logistics partner of Harley-Davidson. Here at the Ring, the guys from the Westerwald region show that they can not only bring noble motorcycles safely to their destination, but also know how to party…
Back in Hanover – and full of anticipation for Finland
On Sunday morning I need an extra coffee. Otherwise, the day runs like the others, in the late afternoon we finally stow everything for the return trip. In the evening we change the tractors again and after the Sunday driving ban I hit the road at 10pm towards Hanover. At 4 in the morning, I’m back at Böhm’s yard. Exhausting? Yes, it was. But it was also incredibly fun. I can only warmly recommend the Truck Grand-Prix to you – it’s a highlight every year!
Now it’s time for me to get back to my daily routines, just normal tours. Before we head off to Finland at the end of July with the #ContiEuropeanRoadshow. I’m really excited to see what awaits us up north….
Until then – see you on the road,