Like the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Nurburgring 24 Hours is a multi-class, 24 hour endurance race.
Unlike the 24 Hours of Daytona, though, the German race has several different classes of cars racing at one time, with engine displacement being the main differentiator between most of them. This leaves the door open for many different types of cars to enter, so long as they meet the safety requirements.
For 20 consecutive years, this 1988 Opel Manta ‘Foxtail’ racecar has appeared at the Nurburgring 24 Hours to race in the SP3 class, which is reserved for cars with an engine displacement under 2.0-liters. It was first operated by Kissling Motorsport, but with the German team having ceased operations this year, it’s now being run by racer Olaf Beckmann.
The car raced in this year’s edition of the grueling endurance event, but it was unfortunately taken out of the race quite early after making contact with a GT4 Mercedes-AMG GT. The small team operating the car didn’t give up, though, and performed extensive repairs in their small pit garage to return to the track shortly before the race ended. The car was met with applause from rival teams in the pits upon its return and got a massive reaction from the crowd, as well, despite being well out of contention for any kind of notable result.
Winning isn’t what it’s really about for the team operating the Opel Manta, though. While they obviously try their hardest to win the SP3 class, the Manta has become a sort of unofficial mascot for the Nurburgring 24 Hours. With its bug-eyed headlights and its roof-mounted foxtail flapping in the wind, it’s undeniably endearing and a clear fan favorite, no matter what position it may be running in.
The Opel Manta tradition may soon be over, though. With Kissling having ceased operations and a small team operating the car on a shoestring budget this year, it’s not clear how much longer it will keep on racing in the Nurburgring 24 Hour. We would hate to see it go, but at the same time, we suppose this weathered old race car deserves some rest.
Lead photo via Wikimedia Commons/ Stefan Krause
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