History was written in VLN4 when Ralf Schall became the first driver ever to become a 100-time winner in VLN. It took him 29 years since his first win to reach this illusive number, a time in which he raced some of the most iconic machines VLN has ever seen.
“It’s a great feeling,” Ralf Schall says, still reeling from the milestone achieved in VLN4.
“What is so beautiful about this is that I’ve taken 99 wins with my own car. My first win was 24 years ago—immediately it was an outright win. I’ve driven to many victories together with my father who’s also still here but doesn’t race anymore, 80 together with him. It’s great to get these 99 wins together with my own team. Next time we go for 100 wins!”
That first win, in spring of 1994, is the one Schall cherishes the most, a victory that went down in history as one of the most unlikely ever.
The new season started in cold and rainy conditions—a recurring theme at the Nürburgring. Ralf and his father Andreas had just bought a DTM-raced Mercedes-Benz 190 Evo II and intended to give the car a proper second life in the Green Hell—but they couldn’t have dreamed that their first win would come so soon.
“The first one was the most special,” the 48-year-old from the German town of Dornstadt remembers.
“It was an outright win and came so unexpected.
“It was a rainy day, we even had snow. Then the race was stopped two laps before the end. I had no idea we had won: this was before we had radios in the cars, we only had the pit boards. I had no idea—it was amazing.”
Four more outright wins with the Mercedes-Benz followed throughout the 90s, until the new era of DTM gave birth to another challenge: bring a modern DTM car into VLN. Where Schall left his mark in the 90s with the Mercedes, fans in the 2000s cheered each lap he raced by them in an Opel Astra V8 Coupé. Previously raced by Phoenix Racing in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring as a factory entry, the Schalls again mixed it up with the pros.
After stints in classes such as the BMW M235i Racing Cup—one of VLN’s hardest-fought categories and in which Schall added to his victories—the 100-time winner rejoined many of his old team members in 2016 at TAM Racing. There he and Christopher Gerhard have since been racing an old Porsche 997 GT3 Cup in one the classes for historic race cars.
A lifetime of racing has not yet extinguished the fire within. Ralf Schall still dreams.
“I’m ‘approximately’ 40 years old now and want to drive for another 25 years. Hopefully I’ll take many more wins.
“My kids are racing karts, I hope I can celebrate a win with them as well—that be so wonderful.”