A German military airbase, Diepholz in Lower Saxony was built in the 1930s and extensively used in World War Two. Rebuilt in the 1950s, it is still used by the German military today.
German racing suffered from a lack of permanent circuits after the war, and airfield venues sprang up to bolster events at the Nürburgring and Hockenheim. Diepholz was among the most popular and long-lasting, thanks to good organisation by race director Peter Rumpfkeil and top-name stars racing on its fast runways.
In 1968, the local motorsport-club AMC Diepholz organized the first "ADAC-Flugplatzrennen Diepholz". These soon gathered momentum and in 1972 Diepholz was added to the prestigious DRM touring car championship. Througout the rest of the 1970s, tin-top stars such as Frank Gardner, Hans Heyer, Toine Hezemans, Helmut Kelleners, Klaus Ludwig and Bob Wollek battled it out in BMWs, Porsches and Fords.
The circuit utilised the airfield runways linked by fast chicanes, lined by water-filled oil barrels and tyre stacks. This meant the penalty for cutting a corner was high - a point proved by the carnage of the 1977 race. Hans-Joachim Stuck and Ronnie Petersen engaged in a furious battle which resulted in Petersen outbraking himself, hitting the barrels and destroying his BMW; the water drenched the track and sent several cars skating off and Stuck claimed the win.
The DRM elected not to return in 1978 after complaints from the teams about the damage to their cars - so the AMC Diepholz brought in Chevy Camaros for the 'Camero Supercup' and placed the likes of Mass, Stuck and Stommelen in them. The crowds flocked, the race was a success and, point made, the DRM returned in 1979!
With the DRM petering out by the end of 1980, Rumpfkeil created The "German Race of Champions". The entry-list was impressive: F1 champion Alan Jones, John Watson, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Hans Heyer, rally champion Walter Röhrl, Björn Waldegaard, Michele Mouton and many more. In identical cars - Ford Escort XR3's - they offered brillant entertainment and Hans-Joachim Stuck proved the Champion of Champions, winning the race.
Diepholz then played host to Group C sportscars for several years, before the first visit of the DTM in 1984-85. However, a failure to impose noise limits caused problems with the national motor racing authorities and the DTM races were cancelled for several years.
Back on the calendar for 1989, the water barrels and tyres were replaced by plastic chicanes. Each year saw a huge amount of preparation work needed to lay on the race, with the working airfield transformed into a circuit with the addition of chicanes, stands and, latterly, gravel traps.
A record 60,000 spectators watched the ITC (as the DTM had become) race in 1996, but the collapse of the championship at year end effectively sealed Diepholz's fate. A new layout was used for two final years, before the new permanent circuit at Oschersleben was opened as its replacement.