A Racing Car fueled by Team Spirit

For more than two decades, Jürgen Freiburg has been an active racing driver. While most drivers choose prefabricated cup vehicles, Jürgen and the members of his FAST Racing Team build their car from scratch which requires knowledge in the most different fields. In the end, not only a car has been formed and welded but also an entire team.

You are the owner of the FAST Racing Team. How did you find each other?

“The breeding ground of the team was a small VW car dealership in Hagen, Germany. I have been driving races for 25 years. At that time I participated in slalom races and bought my parts from this dealer. The local employees naturally noticed what I did in my free-time and offered me their help or we simply started to search for a solution during the measuring. At some point we received an invitation to the Nürburgring from a local racing team. We drove there for two hours and could not stop ever since.”

What fascinates you in motorsports?

“It is an amazing experience when long-term considerations, plans and all the work result in everything functioning properly. As a driver, of course, I relish the duel with others on the track. This is why I am always happy when it rains because it means poor track conditions and it all comes down to the driver. Thus, it is my season’s highlight when there is a downpour and we do not switch to rain tires but proceed with slicks. This is not easy and a bit slippery. Not everybody likes rain and this allows me to compete even with more professional drivers.”

For 20 years your team has been participating in the VLN H2 races on the Nürburgring. With which car did you start out and how many races do you drive per season?

“We started out with a Golf 1 which we were driving for the next ten years. Afterwards came a Scirocco 2. For twelve years now, the Corrado is our team car. Of the nine scheduled races for vehicles up to 2 liter engine displacement, we drive five. We leave out the ones in spring and winter. Of course, it is always warm in the car but everything else is in the cold. With 4°C and fog on the Nürburgring it is not a hobby for me anymore.”

Manufacturers, such as BMW or Clio, produce special race cars, the so-called cup vehicles. How many cars would you guess are already bought prefabricated and how many are self-built?

“Our class was specifically established for private teams building their cars by themselves. Nevertheless, other vehicles are also allowed to be driven, provided they are at least ten years old. Of the 12-15 participants, I would guess that 5-6 are self-built. With reference to the entire VLN of 160 vehicles, it would be 15-20. With these cars, you can see what is done and they differ by more than in color. This is why the fans, spectators and officials can identify with them.”

The FAST Racing Team is well-known on the Nürburgring. In social media or on trade shows, motorsports fans from all over Germany approach you. Do you perceive the enthusiasm of the people during the race?

“During the formation lap there are people explicitly pointing at us and waving. Also with the marshals I have already thought they will fall off the guard rail. This is really nice to see. In the last formation lap it was great to experience and really something special. The people were so happy that we came back again because, due to financial or time-related reasons, most teams give up after such an extensive crash. The effort to build a car for this race series is so immense that you normally just buy a used cup car.”

During a race on the Nürburgring in autumn 2017, you did have a crash with your VW Corrado. The entire car was destroyed. Did you ever think of giving up?

“I must admit, the Sunday after the crash I was asking myself: Is it really worth it? I was completely aware of what lay ahead of us. I knew that my decision, for or against, would have far-researching consequences because others would need to go along with it. This is why I discussed it with the core team first: Do we want to do it and why? I questioned the motivation behind our hobby. The team wanted to carry on because they like the community, the distraction from everyday life and seeing how all the work results in success. This success is based on former considerations to build this part of the electrics in exactly this way or to try something totally different. It is a great experience if the engine starts for the first time and everything is functioning as it should.

What would you have done if the team decided to not carry on?

“I would have said: Great, I am buying another car. But this I can share with just a single person. It does not matter if I simply go for a drive or if I go sporty on the highway. If we spent hours at the Nürburgring a certain suspense develops. This starts on Fridays with our preparations and us asking ourselves how to start into the training on Saturday morning and results at best in the award ceremony. I share this experience and these emotions with a lot of people. I could never have this with a bought car that I drive sporty. Behind our car is an amazing team work. If my team would have decided against carrying on, I would have understood this.”

The crash destroyed your car completely and you needed to build an entirely new vehicle. For this purpose, you could take the Corrado of a member of the Corrado Freunde Hagen. Which modifications were necessary in order to transform it into a race car?

“The car was ground completely blank and re-welded on relevant places. There was nothing left in the car: no carpet, no headliners, no electrics, no cables, no plastic parts – nothing. Afterwards a safety cell was welded into the vehicle by a specialist company in the North of Germany and we assembled the entire car. The engine and the axes were installed and we needed to ask ourselves: Which holes need to be drilled where? Which holders do we need and which not? In the next step, the Corrado was sandblasted, primed and varnished in the VW center in Dortmund. Then, we created an entirely new electric from scrap, one for the engine control and one for peripheral devices such as the wipers, the lights and the blinker. It took us 170 days to build a completely new Corrado according to the regulations of the DMSB (Deutscher Motor Sport Bund).”

Working in the FAST Racing Team requires a vast knowledge in electronics, mechanics and car body construction. How did you acquire all this knowledge?

“For years, we have been working meticulously and integrated people with special abilities into our team. Each member has its specialty but everybody can do everything a little. Our entire knowledge is based on experience, meticulous work and building.”

Why can you not use ready-made or tuning parts?

“There are only a few manufacturers left producing universal parts that we can use. Due to the cup vehicles, the demand for these has extremely dropped as the various cup parts are constructed and produced in the manufacturer’s factories or by suppliers. The parts for tuning fans instead are all about looking nice and being licensed for use on public roads. As this encompasses, for example, also pedestrian protection we cannot use these parts for our race car.”

Your team has designed the instrument holder for the cockpit as well as the rear wings in CAD and milled them on the Q.204. Can you explain the purpose of a car`s rear wing?

“The rear wing pushes the car downwards, the faster I drive. This gives me more pressure on the rear part of the car which leads to a better grip on the street – also with rain. Another wing element is also installed on the front. At best, both parts function in unison. This way, the car stays better on the road and I can take the corners more quickly.”

For the manufacture of the rear wings you decided on carbon. Why did you choose exactly this material?

“Carbon is very solid, rigid and resistant to deformation. The wing elements depend on staying in the same position and to not subside or twist as this would have negative effects on the air flow. Additionally, carbon is very light. In the last car, these parts were made out of steel as we simply did not know how to produce them any other way. This is especially charming with your technique: For universal requirements you can simply build something. In the last years we did not know better than to carve, grind, flex, mill or drill parts from sheet metal. Of course, this looks unprofessional in comparison to the cup vehicles.”

Where do you see the advantages of the CNC technique for the FAST Racing Team and does it help you in creating more professional results?

“Definitely! The technique offers us totally new possibilities in realizing or changing something. For example, we drilled elongated holes into the rear wings which allow us to later adjust their position on the car. In the past, we needed to use a round file for this purpose. Now, we just need to change the program and save it. This is why we are using the CNC technique a lot more by now. Until recently, we produced the instrument panel out of an aluminum sheet and added a carbon-fiber lamination for it to look decent. Thanks to the CNC machine the result always looks as perfect as it should today. This saves us a lot of material.”    

You have been driving races for two decades. Do you have any aims left in motorsports?

Nowadays, it is my aim to form the team and the team spirit in a way that we see each other socially also off track. Thus, when we meet on weekends for a race on the Nürburgring, we will have the feeling of visiting a friend. I want us not be a partnership of convenience but a family looking forward to see each other. This way, we will have fun in working together for a long time to come.”

© 2022 STEPCRAFT GmbH & Co. KG

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