DTM racing (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or German Touring Car Masters) is some of the coolest racing you’ll ever see. Typically, the cars are relatively based on actual road cars, at least they used to be. Cars like the Audi V8 Quattro DTM, E30 BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3 Cosworth dominated the series back in the ’80s, and were all pretty similar to their road car variants. However, fast forward 20 years and DTM cars were, and still very much are, basically custom-designed race cars with a carbon fiber body that resembles the road car. But holy hell were they cool.
This story from Top Gear’s Jason Barlow recalls a pretty cool encounter with Tom Kristensen, the incredible 8-time Le Mans winning driver for Audi, who drove the 2004 Audi A4 DTM at the time. Kristensen was buckling Barlow into the four-point racing harness of said A4 DTM, getting necessarily, yet intimately, close. It’s a humorous account of the Danish driver’s dry wit. However, what isn’t humorous, but shockingly awesome, is the car.
The 2004 Audi A4 DTM was around during a time when DTM racing allowed four-door sedans, despite the fact that the A4 body was basically just a carbon fiber shell over a monster race car. A custom tubular frame with a carbon fiber passenger cell sat underneath that body. A 4.0 liter V8, which developed a restricted 460 hp, sat under the hood, but way back behind the front axle (see Audi, you do know how to package the engine behind the front axle). That sent power to a six-speed sequential gearbox and was capable of making the A4 DTM incredibly fast. That A4 DTM weighed only 1,050 kg (around 2,300 lbs), making 460 hp monstrous.
Though Barlow didn’t drive the car very fast, although we can’t blame his as it was pouring rain and you wouldn’t catch me driving that thing fast in the rain either, he did get to drive it. Race cars like that need a lot of heat in their tires and brakes before they start functioning properly and, in the rain, it’s very tough to do that, especially for a civilian driver. A racing driver, with their brass balls and nerves of steel, can just strap in and go, but not your average everyday driver.
Overall, this is a really cool account of driving one of Audi’s greatest DTM cars and one of the best non-F1 drivers in recent history. If you’re into racing, check this article out.