While the headlines tend to be made by what takes place in the Pro class, the Blancpain GT Series field runs much deeper. The racing is competitive across all four categories, with each providing its own drama and storylines.
Among them is the Am Cup, a class reserved exclusively for bronze-graded drivers. Of all the categories, it features the most eclectic mix of backgrounds and personalities in the series.
Most fans’ attention is quickly drawn to a few eye-catching names – there is a TV presenter and a World Cup-winning footballer – but for the most part these are people with jobs. They hold a wide variety of roles, but all have major responsibilities away from racing.
So, on the Friday before a Blancpain GT Series event, they will be in the office, leaving at the last possible moment to arrive at the circuit and sign on with the other drivers. On a Monday morning they’re back at their desk, maybe still faintly smelling of podium champagne.
They are not headline-makers, but their passion for the sport more than matches that found among the Pro contenders.
Among their number is Henry Walkenhorst, the owner and driver of Am Cup squad Walkenhorst Motorsport. This year the German team are fielding their #36 BMW M6 GT3 in the Endurance Cup, with the boss on driving duties throughout the campaign.
Though there is a business side to his involvement, this is also a passion project for Walkenhorst. Blancpain GT Series commitments stretch to just five weekends a year, plus a limited amount of testing. While he competes elsewhere as well, Henry’s chief responsibility is with the car dealership that bears his family’s name.
The business is headquartered in Melle, a city in the German state of Lower Saxony, and was first established in 1959 by Henry’s grandfather, Friedrich. He was followed by Henry’s father, the late Harro F. Walkenhorst, while Henry himself has been part of the management for some 30 years.
His active involvement in motor racing came rather later, however. Like many drivers competing in the Am Cup class, it was not until he had established himself professionally that Henry could begin competing at such a high level.
“I’m a car dealer,