As deputy chairman of the ITR, Michael Bernard is one of the most important persons of the DTM. At the race track, the 48-year old is working hard behind the scenes, taking the time to listen to everyone. For him, there are no problems, as everything can be done, some way or other. "Mib", as he is called by colleagues and friends, combines a positive basic attitude with technical and organisational knowledge. But the most important thing is: "To me, my job is good fun. I am exactly there where I wanted to be."
Bernard started his career in motor sport in the mid-1970s in the Renault 5 one-make series, although not with too much success. "I mainly became noticed for destroying many cars", a self-critical Bernard recalls today. "With expensive loans, I tried to re-build the cars, so that I could get started again."
As the banks didn't want to put any more money into the project, the contact to Erwin Oberndorfer, the father of former DTM-driver Peter Oberndorfer, came as a salvation. "Erwin had a small film production company and was looking for some help on the organisational side." Oberndorfer, who worked as a journalist, also established another important contact for Bernard, to the specialist magazine 'sport auto'. "They were looking for someone who could write a few lines about the Renault 5 one-make series. After some time, I was offered an apprenticeship. This was great and opened many doors for my future career."
After eight years, Michael Bernard left the Motorpresse Stuttgart as a qualified journalist and changed to the DMSB (formerly ONS). Initially responsible for young drivers' support, Darmstadt-born Bernard soon wrote his first few lines in regulations. With the technical background of a study in engineering that he had once taken up, and his language skills, Bernard was the right man for technical expressions. "Initially, it were just a few lines. But then, ever so often, people used to say: 'Can't Mib do that?'", Bernard recalls with a smile.
"The DTM is not just a race series"
As a specialist for regulations, Bernard changed to Alfa Romeo in the DTM in 1994. Since 1996, he has been working alongside Volker Strycek at Opel. Michael Bernard was notably involved in the resurrection of the DTM in the year 2000: "I had to witness how the DTM collapsed in 1996. And all that in spite of the fact that we had already prepared regulations with significant reductions in technology and budget. So, for the new DTM, we wanted to develop a concept for a race series, in which nearly every manufacturer can be successful. And, as we can see now, we succeeded in doing so. Today, many other race series are taking the DTM as a reference for its concept and its regulation. That shows, that we have done many things right."
Bernard has a very special relationship with the DTM. "The DTM is not just a race series. It is almost a way of life, because one spends so much time in the DTM-scene, that the limits between profession and private life become very vague." Next to regulations, Bernard is also responsible for other areas within the ITR: "In the ITR, we are working collectively. Decisions are being made together. Next to the regulations, I am mainly involved in ensuring that the ITR's requirements are being met in co-operation with the organisers."
"Indeed, seeing what the ITR and the manufacturers have achieved, fills me with a little bit of pride, although I am only a small factor in the whole constellation, which is the DTM", says Bernard, keeping a low profile. "Motor sport has become an important subject in Germany again and the DTM is getting more and more attention among the general public."