Video: DTM 2003 Season Summary

Long-time readers will know I'm a big fan of GT and touring car racing because of how the cars are based on regular production vehicles. Japan's Super GT series is my absolute favorite since I love Japanese cars and the top-level GT500 cars are the fastest GT cars on the planet.

Up until recently though there was another series that rivaled Super GT when it came to blindingly quick production-based racing with wild aero packages, high-dollar manufacturer support, and elite racing drivers at the helm of the cars – Germany's Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or DTM for short.

Like Super GT, DTM isn't a series that's very well-known to the average American car enthusiast – unless of course, he's also a fan of racing games like Gran Turismo. Just like Gran Turismo made race cars like the Pennzoil Skyline GT-R or the Tom's Castrol Supra popular fanboy fodder for a younger generation with a love for Japanese imports, it also made the Mercedes CLK-DTM and the Alfa Romeo 155 2.5 V6 TI into lust objects for those who preferred cars from the lands of bratwurst and risotto instead of the land of sushi and rice balls.

DTM has had different incarnations through the years. The first was called the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft which might sound like a Berlin sex club but actually translated to the German Touring Car Championship. It started in 1984 and saw the likes of Mercedes, BMW, Opel, Audi, and Alfa Romeo duking it out in some increasingly wild machinery that as time went by still looked like roadgoing sedans but were built with carbon fiber chassis powered by turbocharged V6s sending power to all four wheels. Eventually the technological arms race got too expensive and coupled with management disputes the manufacturers started pulling out and part one of the DTM saga would end in 1996.

The series would be reborn as the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters – or German Touring Car Masters – in 2000 (Yes, I know, it still sounds like the name of a German sex club). It wouldn't be considered a German national championship like the first DTM due to having more races outside of the country but it was still very much a German affair with Mercedes, Audi, and Opel being the inaugural manufacturers participating.

To keep the series from dying the same death as the first DTM the organizers this time mandated that only front-engine, RWD drivetrains would be allowed – no more AWD – and electronic driver aids like ABS, traction control, launch control, active suspension, and throwing blue shells at other drivers would be banned. A control tire was also mandated for all teams. All of these changes were meant to keep costs manageable for the teams but the cars were intended to remain crazy fast.

Similarly to Super GT, while the cars were required to be based on existing production vehicles, they were essentially silhouette racers with the outward look of a road-going coupe or sedan but underneath was a very different animal. Carbon fiber body panels that were based on the look of the road car would be draped over a carbon chassis and then festooned with very aggressive aerodynamic aids. To power the beast DTM initially mandated 4 liter NA V8s putting out around 460 horsepower making for a very fast package that behaved more like a prototype or formula car than a mild-mannered luxury car.

If that sounds like a recipe for exciting racing, rest assured it was! Unfortunately back in the days before internet streaming websites became common there was only one place for an American racing fan to catch these weird furrin race series – cable TV's Speed Channel. For a while in the halcyon days of the 90s and early 2000s Speed was home to all forms of racing, not just ones that only turned left. As a weird furriner myself who couldn't stand NASCAR I snapped up all the non-stock car racing I could get on Speed – which is how I ended up with the recordings I've uploaded before of the JGTC 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Now I'd like to share with you that other gem of production-based road racing so today I've uploaded Speed's summary of the 2003 DTM season. Sadly, the commentary and editing leave something to be desired but it's still a fascinating watch with the championship going right down to the last race. The official DTM YouTube channel actually has the full races available to watch but oddly they didn't include this season summary so if you want a quick hit of classic touring car racing I hope you enjoy this video.

The early 2000s until 2020 were the height of DTM as a haven for bespoke heavily manufacturer-supported race cars. Sadly, a decline in manufacturer interest after Mercedes ended their participation to focus more on Formula E meant that the DTM would switch to using GT3 cars rather than racers built specifically for the series. Although the racing is still good the uniqueness of the previous DTM cars was lost. I hope fellow race fans can still enjoy those old glory days through videos like this though and more seasons will come as I have time to upload! Enjoy watching and drive safe as always!


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