Say his name anywhere around the world and you’ll have any motorsports fan’s full attention. In over 40 years of racing, Olaf Manthey has not only built Manthey Racing up to a well-respected and successful motorsports company, he’s also created a legend. In recent years he has slowly moved away from the day-to-day running of Manthey Racing. Today, at the celebration of Manthey Racing’s sixth victory in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, the team has truly, finally, stepped into a new era—the era of life after Olaf Manthey at the helm.
Olaf Manthey observes the party around him as he sits down to have a drink after what has been a nerve-racking finale. The 66-year-old knows what victory in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring feels like, but this one is not letting him unmoved. The tension from start to finish has been tangible in the Manthey Racing garage for over 24 hours. From ‘Grello’ leading all throughout the afternoon and evening until it crashed out after midnight, to the sister car shuffling first place with Black Falcon, there was never a moment for the squad from Meuspath to catch their breath. The climax was reached in the unusual 1 hour 30-sprint to the finish after fog momentarily halted the race around noon on Sunday.
“The last hour was really hard for me,” Olaf Manthey says. “Normally, I have to be really smooth because I’ve been doing this for 42 years, but this last hour of the race was hard.
“I was especially anxious because of the drivers. The pressure on them in this situation—you can’t imagine it. You must think of him sitting in the car and the board goes up: ‘5 minutes to start your engines’. And he’s sitting there alone in the car, thinking, ‘I cannot crash the car—it would destroy all the work of the team… But I must win the race.’ And with these weather conditions and these tough competitors, I can only tip my hat three times over.”
Olaf Manthey knows as good as anyone what that pressure is like. He’s been there himself, having chased that elusive first win for over a quarter of a century until he finally did it in 2006.
Out of all six triumphs in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, it was the first pay-off of all the sleepless nights, the work around the clock and the endless dedication that Manthey holds dearest.
“The nicest one was the first because I had been working on it for 26 years as a driver and a team chief. I had finished second and third many of times, but I had to wait 26 years to take the first ‘24 Hours’ victory.
“So, these two guys,” Manthey says as he points in the direction of Martin and Nicky Reader, since the fusion of their Raeder Motorsport with Manthey Racing in 2013 the new directors of the company, “they’ve done it faster than me.
“They’ve done a really good job since I handed over the company to the both of them in 2013. We’ve worked together until 2016 when I told them I’d step back and they’d have to do it alone, do it their own way. And I’m happy to say that they are the right guys for it and it’s done in the right way.
“It’s the second life of Manthey Racing. It makes me really proud. What made me feel especially very proud the first time, was in 2013 when we started in the WEC together with Porsche and on all the trucks was written ‘Porsche Team Manthey’. This was big for me.”
As Manthey Racing is ensured a successful future under the ownership and guidance of the Raeder brothers and Porsche Motorsport, it’s time for Olaf Manthey to let the team go its own way and enjoy life outside of racing.
“There’s nothing in motorsports for me anymore! The young guys have to do it—I have done it long enough. I go back home together with my wife and I’ll have to learn what other things there are in life.”