Wiesbaden. “I am the A in AMG,” Hans Werner Aufrecht often says when just his name doesn’t ring a bell for the person he happens to be talking to. But AMG is just one of several acronyms that made their mark on Hans Werner Aufrecht’s life. One could just as well pick DTM or ITR, to which the visionary from Großaspach is inextricably linked. Or simply “HWA”, as friends and business partners usually call the chairman of the DTM rights holder and promoter ITR e.V. It is this “HWA” who turns 75 this Saturday (28th December).
Motorsport is Hans Werner Aufrecht’s big passion. Therefore, he was determined to get a job at Mercedes-Benz once he had completed his education as an engine fitter. “But I had hardly joined them as they pulled out of motor racing altogether,” “HWA” recalls. He still pursued his goal, albeit in secrecy initially. Together with Erhard Melcher, who was to become his future partner, the M in AMG, he prepared a Mercedes 300 SE for competition in the German circuit racing championship in the mid-1960s.
Once the car was ready, they confessed their “special stint” to Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who was the Mercedes-Benz board member for development at the time. The latter quickly made a decision. When the car turned out to be good, Aufrecht and Melcher would be allowed to run it in competition, but if not, they would be asked to leave the company. However, the car was good. Driven by Manfred Schiek, the 300 SE won six out of eight rounds and Schiek posthumously won the 1965 German circuit racing championship title after a fatal accident with a rally car.
Simultaneously, AMG enjoyed success in motorsport. What started off in a spectacular way with the legendary 300 SEL 6.8 litre in the early 1970s eventually led to AMG becoming an official Mercedes works team in 1988 following many further achievements. The team’s DTM record includes ten drivers’ titles with Bernd Schneider, Klaus Ludwig, Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta. In 1998, the team was outsourced into the newly-founded company HWA AG that successfully went public later on. Further accomplishments include twelve teams titles and the 1997 and 1998 world championship titles with Mercedes-Benz in the FIA GT Championship.
Nowadays, Hans Werner Aufrecht, who was awarded with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for special social commitments in 2000, is only keeping an eye on the everyday business in his role as a member of the supervisory board. “I am no longer involved in the operation of HWA AG, just as I had it planned for the future,” he says. Instead, he is devoting his time to “his” DTM. Since 1986, he has been at the helm of the series’ organisation ITR e.V., which was founded because of the dissatisfaction of various team principals. Ever since, “HWA” is relentlessly working on improving the series more and more. “Nowadays, the DTM determines my life,” Aufrecht says.
In 2000, he succeeded in reviving the DTM after the series’ temporary demise at the end of the 1996 season. He was the driving force behind the new technical regulations that came into force in 2012 and convinced BMW to make its return to the DTM. And he turned these regulations into an export product, signed co-operation contracts with SUPER GT in Japan, where the regulations will already be used in 2014, and GRAND-AM in the United States. The goal: totally unified regulations from 2017 and the possibility to have some kind of world finale. “Documenting this process and convincing different cultures to give up something, but to get a lot of new and good things in return, that is my main duty,” Aufrecht said after having been awarded with an accolade to honour his lifetime achievements by German specialist magazine, Auto Bild motorsport, in November.
When Aufrecht has time off from the DTM, this belongs to his family, his wife Roswitha and the two daughters, Pia-Luise and Eva-Maria, for whom he wasn’t around that often in the past. Back then, Hans Werner Aufrecht was living his dream. Now, he is supporting his daughters, one of them a successful show jumper, the other one a horse breeder, in their passion as well as he can. After all, “HWA” can’t completely do without horsepower.