If you’re a clueless American like me and are wondering why there’s a racecar clearly in a different league running in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, here’s why millions of race fans are rooting for this Opel Manta Foxtail this weekend.

If you’re a casual race fan, tuned into the 2019 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and are equal parts amused and amazed at this boxy racecar making its way around the track amidst cars several orders of magnitude more expensive, join the club.

VLN Special regulations allow almost every conceivable type of car and since this 1980’s Opel Manta entered its first Nurburgring 24 Hours race since 1998, with a race engine under 2 liters, the Opel Manta Foxtail runs in the SP3 class.

This 1986-1988 Opel Manta Racecar is, according to one Twitter user, a pet project of Volker Strycek A.K.A. the head of Opel DTM Motorsport with a custom built chassis by Kissling Motorsport.

Kissling Motorsport, a mainstay of German Racing for decades, announced earlier this year in January that they’d be ceasing all racing activities, so, naturally, fans of this Opel Manta B racecar, which has made an appearance at the 24 Hour Nurburgring race for several years, were thrilled to hear that its current owner and co-driver Olaf Beckmann would foot the bill for another 24 Hours assault.

According to Driving line, the Kissling Motorsport Opel Manta has been at every 24 Hour race on the Nordschleife since 1998 and this year will presumably final appearance for this car so every lap this car drives is a lap in the true spirit of racing.

As to why this car is so important, this description I found on this three year old YouTube video sums it up quite nicely, in my opinion.

During the annual 24 hour race at the Nürburgring (Germany), Kissling Motorsport, who are usually racing modern Opels, always enters with their 1980’s Opel Manta i400. The crowd’s favorite always gets a lot of attention and is cheered to every time it passes by. This 2009 version was driven by Hass, Schall, Stryzcek, Schmitter and Beckmann. The veteran car’s performance is impressive, even leaving more contemporary cars behind them.

The foxtail mascot is a relic of the past; it was often tied onto the antenna by Manta drivers in the 1980’s. The foxtail even has its own Twitter account (@Manta_Foxtail) The Manta was a cult symbol. The drivers were called “Mannis” in Germany, movies were made (Manta Manta, Manta Der Film), party games were made about the Manta and it was the car of choice for the Dutch TV series “New Kids”. The Manta was also homologated to take part in the Group-B rally. The final rally version sported 340 bhp.

It would seem this car is a running example of what makes German racing so great, running a car that’s over 30 years old yet engineered so exquisitely and maintained to perfection that it still keeps up with all those other modern makes. It’s a tidy racing operation that, quite frankly, only the Germans could pull off.

The Kissling Motorsports Opel Manta B endurance car is a testament to great German racing so we should treasure watching it live for as long as its engine is humming.

As of this writing, the Opel Manta foxtail survived a crash many thought would put the team out of the race. Our finger’s are crossed!

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