"Not only a rally, but also a meeting of friends."
Karlheinz Schott has become an integral part of the Eggentaler Herbst Classic. He is an icon in the scene. In the interview, he explains what makes the rally, the area and the people here so special.
Karlheinz Schott, as race director of the Eggentaler Herbst Classic, it’s hard to imagine the rally without you. How did the connection to South Tyrol come about?
In 2019, it was for me the 8th time as race director and before that, I had heard from participants about an event that was still in its infancy but had enormous potential, thinking about the landscape and the atmosphere. Thomas Feierabend was there at the time and asked me to take a look at the whole thing. We then drove to Eggental together and sat down with the organizer Klaus Pichler. I’ve been organizing all kinds of motorsport events for more than 45 years and we quickly realized that the Eggentaer Herbst Classic could benefit from my experience.
Can you say that you have given a decisive contribution to professionalize the Eggentaer Herbst Classic?
You can see that the cooperation was successful from the number of participants. At that time there were about 40 teams. In 2019 there were 120 teams. The event is actually already overbooked.
Such a success only arises if you tackle something with passion and competence. What role do cars and classic cars play in the life of Karlheinz Schott?
I used to be an active motorsport athlete myself, took part in the German Rally Championships for many years, drove many international rallies, and also took part in the Monte Carlo Rally several times. During this time I also organized motorsport events on a voluntary basis in the club. Then 20 years ago I started classic car events. You can say that the events that I organize today show the cars that I used in motorsport. Of course, I have a very special relationship with these cars and the enthusiasm for the oldtimers means that I am not only the organizer, but also I take part in many events myself. This is extremely important, above all, because I can see what others do and how.
Sounds like, you spend a lot of time on it. How much effort do you take to prepare a rally like the Eggentaler Herbst Classic as race Director?
A lot. It actually starts in spring when we put together the route and determine how the stages go and where the stations are. Then we drive the route, create the road book and determine how many people doe we need, at what time and where. The work takes months to the event itself. Of course not constantly and exclusively, but already continuously. And then there is the work of Klaus Pichler, who, as the organizer and overall manager, has to organize the logistics and the supporting program.
What is the difference between the Eggentaler Herbst Classic and the other oldtimer rallies?
There are several points. First of all is of course South Tyrol. The landscape here is simply fantastic, the routes incomparably beautiful. Second is the community. The EHC is not only a rally, but also a meeting of friends who want to spend the season together. It is often the same participants who come to Eggental every autumn and enjoy living in the same hotel and being able to exchange ideas in a relaxed manner. And, last but not least, is the rally itself, in which both the road book and the tasks are varied. All of this results in a unique overall package.
Karlheinz Schott, are the “race controls” different from other rallies?
The race control are the same as I do in my other rallies. I also organize a few other events, such as the Franken Classic in Bad Kissingen or the Schwarzwald Winter Challenge in Durbach. It is important to me that everyone can pass the exams, but the demands are still high. I also value variety. For me there are time controls, passage controls and secret equability time controls.
Sounds like your races are also suitable for people who want to join the rally for the first time.
Yes, but a beginner must of course know that he cannot win straight away. And it also makes sense to have someone with experience explain the procedure to you. But such a rally is not rocket science for a beginner, especially since you don’t need a lot of equipment. An odometer and a stopwatch are sufficient. And if you don’t own a classic car yourself, you can easily borrow one. Some organizers also offer this or provide support if someone needs a car for the time of the event.
While the participants spend carefree rally days, your engine is running at full speed. Do you actually need a vacation when the Eggentaler Herbst Classic is over?
First of all, of course, I am happy when everything went well and the participants are satisfied. I do it as a hobby and therefore have a lot of fun with it, which is why I don’t find it stressful. But I honestly have to admit that sometimes it turns out to be a lot of work. But working with Klaus and all the people from our teams is just wonderful – it is very familiar and that makes up for everything. I also get to know a lot of people and new corners of South Tyrol. I think I know the area there better than most of the locals. When the EHC is over, however, I always have to go home straight away because I have some people with me who support me – for example my two daughters. But I also go on holiday for cycling or skiing in South Tyrol – but far too little, if I’m honest. But you can work on that …