Classic Days At Schloss Dyck Revives Racing Legends And Show Cars Alike
Photography by Máté Boér
The Classic Days event at Schloss Dyck in Germany captures the essence of sublime, immobile car shows held on laser-cut lawns adjacent to pretty buildings, but it also has some of that period-correct racing atmosphere like you’d find at the Goodwood Revival, with drivers donning vintage gear and often a fair share of oil and grease from their impressively pedigreed racing machinery. It’s idyllic and pretty here as it is smoky and loud.
The three-day event commemorates the life and motorsports career of German Formula 1 driver Wolfgang von Trips. Graf Trips (Count Trips) was born in a small town near Cologne—and very close to Schloss Dyck—and in his too-brief career he piloted cars from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Ferrari, and he competed in these legendary cars against peers of similar reputation: people like Stirling Moss, Phill Hill, Hans Herrmann, Jim Clark; people who could really do something in an automobile.
It seemed that 1961 would be his best season since “Taffy,” so named by the Brits, won the Dutch GP, the Targa Florio, and the British GP with Ferrari. This strong performance meant he was in a position where he could have secured the Championship by taking third or better in Monza; by no means an easy feat, but one that von Trips surely could have accomplished. Then, near the infamous Parabolica corner, his Ferrari 156 “sharknose” collided with Jim Clark’s Lotus. The accident caused the death of fifteen spectators and the 33-year-old von Trips. A tragic end to his life surely, but it is a life still being celebrated; the organizers of Classic Days have dedicated the event to him, for his prominence as a driver, but also because of who he was, a consummate gentlemen on and off the track. This year the commemoration was even more special thanks to Ferrari bringing a replica (they destroyed the originals decades ago in period) Ferrari 156 to the castle’s live demo session. If the car didn’t fill the cool quota on its own, legendary Italian former F1 driver Arturo Merzario was the one doing the honors behind the wheel.
Of course there was plenty to see besides this direct tribute, and the various parts of the huge park around Schloss Dyck were organized around specific themes and filled with cars accordingly.
On the peninsula, Ferrari celebrated its 70th birthday with a wide selection of models from the make’s rich history, the ISO Bizzarrini Club set up 16 cars (including three prototypes) and scooters next to each other. This part of the grounds was also the weekend home for 55 additional cars that had come to participate in the FIVA concours dubbed “Jewels in the Park.” Among the many concours shows taking place across the world and year, only a handful are honored by the opportunity to reward the most original car with a Preservation Award. At this year’s Classic Days the award was presented to an unrestored Packard 645 Flight Deluxe Eight, a car built in 1929 with unique bodywork by Raymond Dietrich.
At the “Charme and Style” section we saw original Stanley Steamers still in operating, steam-emitting condition across from a man listening a gramophone, while next to them the owner of a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 was wondering with a smile about a visitor’s question regarding the size of the Rolls’ oil sump: “I’ve owned this car for a very long time, but nobody’s ever asked me that one!”
Classic Days is not only for petrolheads though, it’s a thoroughly family-welcoming weekend, with activities to indulge the curiosities of all generations. For instance, the “Nostalgic Journeys” section allowed the young to discover the past and the old to relive it what with a series of living dioramas of vintage caravanning and camping complete with vintage advertisements from the appropriate eras to match the real-life vehicles.
Just a few hundred meters away from the tranquility of the castle lay the triangle-shaped track with its famous alley of trees wearing their red and white checkered flag dresses. A lot of special traffic passed through, but an especially notable guest this year was the infamous “Beast of Turin” Fiat, always an impressive sight, and seeming more so as it continues to age. Also in attendance were a contingent of Bentley Boys from the Benjafields Racing Club, as well as some other vintage open-wheeled pre-war goodness; one sight I’m likely not to forget was the sixteen-cylinder supercharged Auto Union drifting out of a curve among the hay bales. This kind of thing goes on for two days in a row, and there are autos and motos running all day, organized with stereotypical German precision, a new marvel of yesteryear making its way through the course every few minutes.
The Classic Days is so colorful and so big, that a single article’s extent is not enough to cover everything as it deserves to be. According to my phone’s step counter, I walked 28.6 kilometers around the exhibition area during the three days I spent there, and there were still places for which I simply had no time. In addition to the huge exhibition of show cars, there were the visitor’s classic cars they’d driven to the event, which filled up an entire field, even on Saturday in the heavy rain. It was hard to take it all in, easy to imagine it as a dream. There was a sign posted at the entrance I took each day, and I think it does an effective job of summing it all up: entering Classic Days is exiting reality.