Erwin Derichs - Shelby G.T.350 and Mustang Hardtop
©Erwin Derichs, Wolfgang Kohrn - June 26th, 2003, last updated Sept. 3rd, 2011
AVD OGP 2009
Erwin Derichs likes holes in his racecarsErwin Derichs is a professional racer and his shop and race team is backing up not only his several vintage racers, but also other teams. Erwin cares for a lot of the mainly private race teams, as well, therefore he was also busy on the Friday. A complete and well equipped tools, tires and parts truck is with him and many a driver passes by with a broken part to get a replacement item or just an advice or help, how to repair it. Erwin takes his time for everybody and any car and he even found time in this hectic surrounding to explain his special Mustang relationship to us.
Erwin entered rallye, circle track, hillclimbing and slalom races already since 1966. He started his career as the chief mechanic of Rolf Stommelen in the Formula 3 and today is a well-known race driver and professional race shop owner. His latest aquisition and proud is a March 701 with a 3 litre Cosworth engine, which he also displayed at the 98 Oldtimer Grand-Prix event.
Mustangs entered Erwins life rather late after his initial dedication towards Abarth and Maserati cars as well as 4 different Lotus Cortina cars, which he raced. But lets listen to what Erwin told us: " I was at that time in close contact to an American guy and we often talked about Mustangs. In 1988 he called me one day and said `Hey Erwin, didn't you tell me that you are keen on racing a Mustang. I've just got four of them in my stable. Shall I send them?`Well, I asked him to send only one for the moment and it was the Shelby GT350 I still own today, the VIN is SFM5S354. This is the story of how I came across Mustangs. Later the other Hardtop joined our team. Besides, both cars were in a status that requested a lot of work to be done, but as we had to completely disassemble them and carry out necessary modifications, it did not matter a lot.
"With the Shelby we enter the GT class and the Hardtop is approved for the touring car class. You may know that these are the same classes Mustangs were approved for back then in the 60ies. You cannot enter the Shelby Fastback in the touring car class. With the Hardtop we still encounter problems with the maximum weight of 1200kg, it still has 5kg too much."
Even the hood and trunk lid enforcements had been drilled by Erwin to save weight, a detail that caused headaches for me, but somehow must differentiate fine-weather-cruisers from professional racers. The engine of the Hardtop - a basically stock 289 - is not allowed to be modified very much. Indeed even roller rockers are not accepted, the stock items must be in. Headers are not accepted and the distributor has to have standard contacts under its cap, no electronic ignition upgrades! This hurts - especially for higher rpms as are necessary for racing that mill. A Holley carburetor and a slightly modified intake as well as another cam are the only items, where inspectors do not disagree. "But what are these modifications worth, if you get the air in, but not out." said Erwin. " We can also alter the rear axles gear ratio according to the race circuits, the suspension modifications are limited to stiffer shocks and springs as well as added leafs in the rear. But other set-ups won't be accepted." Homologation laws are valid as they were back then. In the trunk of Erwins Mustang you'll find a 80 litre safety rubber trunk, enough fuel for long distance or endurement races, which are a favourite of most racers rather than short distance races.
2008 at the Nuerburging. Actually Erwin rents this car out to interested licenced race drivers.
Detail shot from 2008 from the Hardtop that Derichs rents out.