Walter Hoffmann: virtuoso on 2 and 4 wheels
In 1968 the son of a piano manufacturer witnessed his first motorcycle race at the Hockenheimring near his hometown. Fast forward 10 years and there is German Walter Hoffmann racing among the best of the world in the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen. Fast forward 45 years and the motorcycle racer returns to Assen to race on 4 wheels in the Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge.
Hoffmann debuted on a motorcycle in 1973 at a hill climb event in Zotzenbach, followed soon after by a road race during the ‘Fischereihafenrennen’ in Bremerhaven. In 1976 he finished 2nd in the German 500 cc championship, competing in the European championship as well. In 1980 he became the German 350 cc champion. Between 1975 and 1982 he entered 14 Grand Prix races finishing as high as 11th. He finished a respectable 12th on a privateer Yamaha TZ 250 during his last Dutch TT in 1981. The race was won by his fellow countryman Toni Mang, a long time rival in the domestic race scene, on his way to becoming the most successful German motorcycle racer of all time.
After racing the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster Grand Prix in 1984 and ‘85 Walter Hoffmann chose to focus on the family business in manufacturing pianos, leaving the sport which according to Hoffmann requires a similar level of sensitivity and ‘on edge’ performance as when playing the piano. After 12 years he returned to action, winning the American Daytona Classic race 4 times in a row as well as taking his 2nd German title, in the 1999 250 cc category on a Honda TSR 250.
Since the turn of the century Hoffmann has turned his attention to racing classic cars. The former motorcycle racer is just as competitive on 4 wheels as he was on 2, winning several classic races in sports and formula cars. During the Classic GP Assen the 68 year-old Hoffmann races a brutal V8, a 1968 Can-Am McLaren M1C, in the Colmore Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge.