From: dab@vuse.vanderbilt.edu (The Nashville Flash)
Newsgroups: rec.motorcycles
Subject: Zielfahrt 
Summary: Continuing Adventure Saga
Date: Spetember 11, 1991
Followup-To: 
Distribution: world
Organization: Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, Nashville, TN, USA
Keywords: BMW Rally Munchen

The BMW 60 Year Rally

David Braun


Copyright © 1991 - David A. Braun
All rights reserved.

In 1923 the first BMW motorcycle was produced that was powered by a design penned by the genius of engineer Max Fritz. The horizontally opposed twin cylinder, air cooled engine he first conceived continues in production even today. Of course the current version is significantly improved. But, the roots are clearly visible. In 1983, the BMW factory put on its first (and only) motorcycle rally; to celebrate sixty years of Boxermotors. Since we were touring around Europe at the time, we decided to attend the "60 Jahre BMW Motorrad 1923-1983 International Zielfahrt Munchen" held in the month of July.

We awoke in a beautiful zimmerfrei outside Hamburg. Our breakfast of boiled eggs wore little knitted caps to keep them warm. We packed the R80G/S and hit the road early. We covered the first 200 miles on the autobahn in only two hours (including one quick stop for gas). We LIKE the autobahn. Stopping some 450 miles from Hamburg with 50 miles yet to go to get to Munich, I noticed that the tread on the front tire was cracked at the sidewall. So much for a cheap-shit trials tire. We took it easy and held the speed below seventy mph for those last fifty miles. Still, we made the 500 mile trip in seven hours which included all gas and rest stops and lunch.

As we neared Munich, the traffic in BMW motorcycles picked up dramatically. There were tags from every conceivable country in Europe. Our excitement level kept on rising... this was going to be GOOD. Outside the city limits of Munich, we stopped at a tourist information station. There we met a Dutchman named Herman Houwing who was just walking out of the kiosk to his immaculate silver-blue R100RS. He told us that the rally was not at the BMW factory & museum complex (across from the '72 Olympic gardens) as we had assumed. It was, instead, to be held at a site in Oberscleissheim which is in Dachau. Since Herman seemed to be an affable sort of fellow who spoke fluent English and German as well as his native Dutch and was traveling alone, we decided to join forces.

With Herman leading the way, since he had the directions, we found the Rally site. There was a large stadium structure that had something to do with the Olympics and several out buildings. Since none of us had pre-registered, we were stopped at the gate. As we walked over to the registration area, who do I see? Bob Beach, Jr., the fellow that sold me the muffler from the earlier tale. Bob and I had a discussion and he (quite reasonably) denied my claim for warranty replacement (Hey, if ya don't ask...). We parted amicably and I turned to go register... Son of a Beach! They had CLOSED.

No real harm done since neither we nor Herman had any camping gear and we would have to find a hotel anyway. This was easily accomplished. However, on our way to the hotel, as we passed a certain street, I felt "drawn." Later conversation with Big Red and Herman revealed that they too had felt a "presence." A few days later, we followed that feeling down that road, which looked like any other. An almost overwhelming sense of foreboding welled up as we rode down the street. Our questions were answered when it came into view. Something Evil. The Dachau Work Camp. I hadn't before, but now; I believe in ghosts.

The next morning, we went back to register for the Rally. Since it was to be the actual "first day," we had not missed anything. There were attendees from all over the world. The Rally-Packet included meal chips (like poker chips), a key ring with a 1" scale boxermotor, a sort-of-a name tag kind-of thing (with no place to put your name) which I never did figure out, and a very nice pewter medallion with blue and white enamel to commemorate the Rally and the Boxermotor (more on the medallion later), and of course the obligatory paperwork consisting of map, schedule of events, vendor propaganda, and so forth.

The first item of business was to visit the Metzler Booth. I yanked the front wheel and went in to have a new tire mounted by company reps. (After the "Ugly Scottish Tyre Incident" I was a bit leery. But after all, these men were Professionals. Bzzt! When the tire finally wore out and I changed it at home myself, I found that they had mounted it with a wrinkle in the tube. If I had ridden much further, I would have had a FRONT flat. Yikes!) That bit of business dispatched, we went on to wander about the displays and exhibits.

We saw some amazing things on display... an R100RS cutaway was the cutaway to end all cutaways. The seat, muffler, various frame sections, shocks, damn near everything gave you an X-ray view. There was even a clear plastic cylinder and head containing metal (cutaway) piston and valves. The fairing was cut in half, too. Almost every part of the bike had been "ruined" for the edification of the viewer. We saw a sidecar with a steering wheel that affected only the tilt of the sidecar wheel, to be used in dirt track races. We saw _real_ ice racers with 2" long spikes protruding from the tires. The strangest thing we did NOT see, at the Rally anyway, was any evidence of the "K" bikes.

We bought several souvenirs. My favorite is a poster of line drawings of every motorcycle BMW ever produced along with model dates. I paid about $1.50 for the poster. It cost twice that much to send it home and about $75.00 to have framed. At the bottom of the frame I mounted the nifty "60 Jahr" medallion mentioned earlier.

There were several fantastic exhibitions put on by those in attendance. The most memorable was that of the Hamburg Police Department (which made the Shriner Motorcycle Corps look like a bunch of old men in funny hats). These guys rode R51/3's (500cc 1951-1954). They did two very memorable things... A fellow on one of these antiques used a ramp consisting of a piece of wood and a concrete building block to jump five (5) of his compatriots laying shoulder to shoulder on the ground. These constables also effected a formation which they rode in a circle and then in a figure-eight consisting of seventeen (17) officers in a pyramid on three motorcycles. How they did this is difficult to describe, but it included a fellow laying backwards on each front fender with his head nearly scraping the ground in front of the tire. Many large flags added to the spectacle. What a sight! My only regret of the Rally is not getting a better picture of this formation.

Somewhere in the midst of all the festivities, we found time to go to Ismanning, the nearby town where the BMW test track is. It may be no big deal today, since the K-bikes have been around for quite some time; but _then_ they weren't even known as "K" bikes. They were just "the New" ones. We watched in amazement as these futuristic very non-BMW BMW motorcycles with no markings circled the test track. Later, as we were getting on the autobahn, one came whizzing by. Herman took off after him. At dinner, Herman told us how it had run off and left him, topped out on his R100RS.

Every night dinner was served in a big circus tent, buffet style, to be eaten at long, picnic-type tables. Have you ever seen or heard about the food on a cruise ship? There was a surfeit of gloriously displayed sumptuous repast available for our conspicuous consumption. And we did consume.

In the middle of the feast one night, the sound of European two-tone police sirens was heard in the distance. They got louder and louder. Suddenly, through what seemed to be every opening in the tent appeared a member of the Paris Police contingent, gunning the engine, riding between the long rows of tables with sirens wailing, blue lights flashing, beeping their horns and shouting, "VIVE LA FRANCE!" After a moment of shock, we arose en masse for a standing ovation, a rousing cheer, and, of course, a toast with our liter mugs of beer.

Another night during dinner, some individual pulled up outside the tent on a very loud bike and repeatedly revved his engine. After a while I went outside to look; and saw that it was a Rennesport Kompressormotor factory race bike from the Glory Days of BMW racing. This was an extremely rare example of a supercharged overhead-cam Worldbeater. This was the bike that made the FIM ban superchargers back in the thirties. What before had been just loud noise, was now, to me, the sweet mechanical song of an era gone by.

One of the nice things about the rally was that we ate with people we had never met. So we all made friends a dinner every night. For the grand finale, the factory gave away an R65LS, a beautiful limited edition sporting 650cc motor- cycle. Thousands of us were disappointed when our number was not the one that was called. I will never forget the look of shock on the face of the fraulein across the table from me when she realized that it was HER number... SHE had won it. This woman I had never met before today had become my friend during dinner. So, somehow, I could share in her joy of winning the prize.
...

The aftermath of a Rally is usually a quiet time. Everyone is packing for the ride home and heading that way. We were not. We were heading south for the Alps and Italy. Dolomite was calling...


E' Pericoloso Sporgersi. Ne Pas Se Pencher Au Dehors. Nicht Hinauslehnen.
The Nashville Flash - dab@vuse.vanderbilt.edu - DoD # 412
"Far away is far away only if you don't go there." -O Povo,Fortaleza,Brazil
David A. Braun - Flash@DeathStar.org - DoD # 412