Women behind wheel – exclusive interview with Ellen Lohr

3.Szabolcs Sződy: Herzlich Willcommen im Ungarn! – I can not speak German so we will continue in English.

My first question is: What was your first step to start the car racing?

Ellen Lohr: “Actually I have an anniversary this year. Like Hungary {for Hungaroring} in 30 years I am 30 years in motorsport. So it is the same. That is my anniversary as well, 30 years. I started in kart racing but that did not count for the 30 years, only the automobile which is count. So I started in kart, I did formula, formula 3 and DTM. In Germany I am quite well known because of the DTM times because that was very extreme and intense time. DTM is there, the German DTM championship.

Szabolcs Sződy: When I was a little child I have seen you in the TV.

Ellen Lohr: “Yes, that was a really good time. I did truck racing afterwards, two years at Mercedes Benz, as the factory driver. After I switched for other things and at 2004 I decided not to go with trucks any more. And I switched completely for ten years to do rally. I did rally championship, I did Dakar, off-road racing, and staff like that. Than I got an offer to do truck racing again, and here I am, back into truck racing and I think I will finish my carrier in truck racing. That would be the last step.” {smiling}

Szabolcs Sződy: Are you now the Mercedes Benz official driver? Like in the DTM times?

Ellen Lohr: “No, I am a testimony for Mercedes-Benz. This is a kind of difficult situation because I am driving in MAN but he point is that I drove for this private Mercedes Team for two years. It was absolutely no success because there was no support from the Mercedes Team. So I said to Mercedes that it is okay, as long as you do not officinal support anybody please let me change. {smiling} And they said it is okay, there is no problem. So that is the reason why I am driving MAN as a Mercedes testimony. You are very well informed.

Yes, from the Mercedes times I am very much connected to Mercedes, we do many things together, that is true. But I like MAN because it is the quickest truck in the field. Not my truck but MAN general.”


Szabolcs Sződy: What is the main difference between DTM car and a truck racing? Basically we know what is but when you drive?

Ellen Lohr: Well actually I had the honor to drive DTM cars last year for some laps and it was kind of impressive because it changed a lot the time I did DTM. I would not say only to the better because they are so technique now. I say it is a little but of a generation of a play station. The car has many things by itself lets face it. There is not so much work inside. But it is difficult to drive at the edge because there is a lot of down force and a lot of aerodynamic.

I personally prefer truck racing as a spectator because I really thing there is more action and that is the main difference compare to DTM. Because truck racing is a low tech. I mean it is really professional and you have to be a really professional team to succeed but compared it is a low tech. But for the spectators it is more fun. That is true. Because it is real action, it is bing-bang-bong. Yes, it is really, crash together that is the way you do truck racing. And the crowd just loves it.”


Szabolcs Sződy: The weight is 1 tons vs 5.5 tons?

Ellen Lohr: “I do not know exactly 1 tons or 1.1 tons, that DTM car has. We {trucks} have 5.3tons. The truck and everything, the power is nice. But in the DTM cars it is very nice and the truck is very nice. We have a cut of at 160 {km/h} resulting complete different racing. Because you can not take advantage of the corners for such a long time and things like that. So you have to think different. Break points, yes, different of course but because of the breaks, you have to break earlier. It is of course much more fun again for the fans. It is not formula one where everybody breaks at the same and it is difficult to overtake and on top of that there is no artificial things like real wings which goes down and things like that. We know that there is no need to artificial stuffs. There is a different way of fighting and of course it is a completely different way of driving. Because it is really – how can I explain? – not so easy. The truck had left you go, you have to let is go to keep the speed, you have to drive very special way though the corners because there is a lot of overseers, if you let he car originally go it so on. And that is different. You have less grip because you do not drive on slicks, there is a same tire for racing and for normal drive. It is the biggest difference. It is a racing tire but it is not a slick, there is so much grip so you have to fight more than in a DTM car, that is sure. But the DTM car is more physical. Because it is more power for the steering, and the G. so surely you have to be more fit.”

Szabolcs Sződy: When you went on Friday, I was one of your passengers. I did enjoy it absolutely.

Ellen Lohr: Oh, yes you were one of my co-driver. Yes, I remember.”


Szabolcs Sződy: Are you happy that there are more and more female driver in motorsport?

Ellen Lohr: Of course, of course it is really important when you see the spectators like in Hungary, 99% support for Norbi {Kiss} of course. But because 50% of the spectators are female I think the 1% support minimum for the two women. Kind of success also that Steffi {Stephany Halm} did win a race yesterday and finished twice at 5th so it is important and good for us. In between it does not make any difference. It is also good for the motorsport. It is more and more younger when they start. We need not only one but some girls in formula 1. That is my opinion. But, but, you also have these girls, you never were so successful suddenly because a lotus test driver. And it is really bad for the girls who are really talented. Because it is so evident that a woman is taking for PR and Marketing that is really bad. On the other hand something has to happen. Look at Susie Wolff, she is such a good driver, she should race. And I am sure she would, she could do good results. There is no doubt about it she is doing the testing 2 or 3 times, it is always good, okay, maybe not winning races but very good at the midfield. That is enough and it would have such a high impact and if I would be a sponsor I would jump on it of course. Directly and I do not understand why she is not chosen. That is really bad and it gives me the feeling that we have to wait for a little longer to have a woman in formula 1. Twoo or three women.”


Szabolcs Sződy: What is your opinion about the weekend, the racing at the Hungaroring?

Ellen Lohr: When I drove my first lap I sad oh my good, what a Mickey-mouse course. It is much too small for our big trucks. But I enjoyed it very much. And I think the spectators did see a very good racing and have a lot of fun. And that is the most important. I rally have to congratulate to the organizers because they did so much effort in a good way to make it successful at the first time. This is very seldom. Truck racing is such a special kind of motorsport and it goes on the court at the very first time. Normally the people have to get use to it. But Hungary with the Hungarian champion, the Hungarian leader Norbert Kiss, ruling the truck race world at the moment, of course it is easier to attract more people but nevertheless you have to do good job to get such a big crowd at the first attempt. I think it is really successful and congratulation to the Hungarian organizers.”


Szabolcs Sződy: Thank you very much for your time.



Interview: Szabolcs Sződy

Photos: Zsolt Sződy