Rolf Kienen - Mustang Hardtop Racer
©Rolf Kienen, Wolfgang Kohrn - June 27th, 2003, updated Sept 3rd, 2011
Rolf Kienen and his Mustang HT at the Nürburgring 1999
The 289 engine of the Mustang Hardtop
Rolf Kienen prefers the fun of racing and the club atmosphereRolf Kienen and his Rhein-Ruhr Racing team welcomes us always as good old friends - each time I meet him at the Oldtimer Grand Prix or any other Nuerburgring race since 2003.
"Come in, take a seat and have some cold drinks, guys"
Rolf Kienen and his friends rather look like some veterans having a nice time and no oil-splattered mechanics rushed between cars. Instead their Mustang was parked under the tent and the team members were sitting on their picnic lunch table enjoying the fine weather and watching the other team efforts to get their cars ready. Indeed these guys have come a long way in racing and have driven almost everything that appeared to be a race car. Another RHD Lotus Cortina was also parked under the tents roof. Rolf was not very enthusiastic about that car: " We brought this one with us just for some friends, who want to have a ride. You have to squeeze everything out of this car to be really fast, but in the end each lap is almost the same and it is really boring. I prefer the Mustang, because this horse has to be tamed all the time, each lap is different and the torque and peak power is what makes my life more thrilling." We did not disagree in any point. We asked him for the general performance of Mustang at the "Ring".
"Touring class Mustangs are good for time slips of 2.12 to 2.17min at the new short Nuerburgring GP circle track, while GT cars, to which the early Shelbys belong, are good for 1.55 - 2.05min time slips. To get an idea of the other classes, even Formula 1 high-tech racers just succeed to get around in 1.40 - 1.48 min. The 22,5km distance of the old famous Nuerburgring circle track was done usually in 11 to 12 minutes, some early Shelbys like SFM5R107 of Jochen Neerpasch or SFM 5R539, which I drove in 69 and 70, however finished the track in under 10 minutes. Yeah, in those good ol' times, it was really fun to race around the old 'Ring' and the spectators were really laughing at you, if you dared not to come with some leafs and other green stuff at the outboard mirror from the downhill section of Wehrseifen. Today everybody can drive real fast with their high-tech-racers, but at that time, boy, it was really different". A grin appeared on his face and you could see in his eyes that he just passed the cheering crowd in his roaring Shelby R-Model again. Rolf Kienen was a race driver from 1962 to 1973, when he raced DKWs, BMW 1600, 2002, 1800TI/SA as well as Steyer Puchs. Then he bought together with Wolfgang Dietrich, the Kleber tire race team leader a SFM5R539 tagged Mustang Hardtop from Claude du Bois, the belgian Shelby dealer. Wether this was the real SFM 5R539 or the hardtop, that had been equipped with 5R539 components for one race only, is still a mystery. (see story of 5R539 on this site). From 1973 to 1994 Rolf was not active in racing, but then re-entered the "club" with his long-time friend Ernst Juentgen. "These days I drive on the full circle including the new GP-circuit (25,5km) about 11.36min best. At the 500km-race there were 2 courses, I finished 2nd in the first race, quite remarkable - as only 18 out of 85 participants saw the checkered flag. The second race I finished 1st mit 66 out of 182 crossing the finish line. The average speed was at 135km/h.
My best time on the short GP-circuit is 2.15min, my Mustang Hardtop has almost 300 HP on the rear wheels and the top speed is almost 250km/h with the right gear drive. Of course - at the Nuerburgring, we are using a much shorter gear ratio to get a good grip out of the turns. Alas we have no chance against the Falcons, that have almost 250kg less weight and are allowed to be much more modified than our Mustangs."
The Saturday race saw Rolf Kienen with a much better time slip of 2.11.30min, as the suspension and brake system had been improved a lot before the race. "Last year the Mustang did not react quite well to braking, it steered towards the gravel and green areas, but now it just goes, where we want it to go. We how have an average speed of 125km/h".
Rolf Kienen is a member of the Rhein-Ruhr-Racing-team with a total number of 90 members. The cars of his race team are financed by 2-3 people and that's why they like to participate in long distance races, because everybody can enter the car during one race.
Rolf today is just a "Driver-only" guy, he leaves the technical part of the job to those that know better. Guenter Olly Ohler is the Mustang engine builder he trusts in and the relaxes atmosphere in the tent was up to Olly, because nobody saw problems during the race. Olly even was not there, so he has trust in his job, as well.
The current Mustang is since 2001 in their stable and only once in the first 2 years they experienced a problem with a broken transmission housing end, probably due to a vibration in the driveshaft.
Asked about the costs involved of such a hobby, Rolf was open to say: "These race cars are usually like a money bank. You always throw the money in the top slot, but nothing appears at the bottom. But joke aside, as we finance these cars with 2 or 3 people and our mechanics also contribute with their labour, we save a lot of money. We had to buy a transporter and tools truck, which we luckily can park at a friends home. Then we have a very good parts connection, but still spare engines, transmissions and other parts have to be on hand, when you need them. So we account for up to 50.000$ including the car. The participation fee at this event for example is 400$, other events request approx. 250$ depending on how much drivers participate. There are approximately 8-10 main HTWT-events (Vintage touring car trophy) a year. "
At the AVD OGP 2009 - still kicking
The other Mustang Hardtop in their tent at the AVD-OGP 2011 at the Ring, co-raced by Koelker, Meuer and Kienen.
|And again at the AVD OGP 2011|
Meanwhile Rolf also co-races an orange Mustang with Patrick J. Koelker and Achim Meuer.