The endurance racing champion gets behind the wheel for IWC in the 15th Arosa Classic Car Hillclimb. Ted Gushue interviews the German road legend about his career, his retirement and his return.
BS: Bernd Schneider
TG: Ted Gushue
TG: Rumor has it you were named after legendary German racing pilot Bernd Rosemeyer, winner if the 1936 European Drivers’ Championship. Is this true?
BS: Yes! It’s not just a rumour – it’s absolutely true. Back then, my dad worked on the A5 autobahn, which was where Bernd Rosemeyer had his fatal accident. His wife, Elli Beinhorn, was there when the memorial stone was moved due to the widening of the autobahn and, as my dad was a motor racing fan, he decided to call me Bernd.
TG: Would you say that you were destined to be a driver your whole life?
BS: Definitely! When I was five my parents bought me my first go-kart. From that point I had only one goal in life: to become a racing driver.
TG: Many legendary endurance drivers have tried their hand at single seat racing, specifically Formula 1. Your career with Zakspeed in the 80s was short, but your career in touring cars and endurance racing has been long and arguably one of the most successful in modern history. Why are the disciplines so different and ultimately specialized?
BS: My dream has always been to become Formula 1 World Champion, but there wasn’t really much chance of that happening with Zakspeed at the end of the 1980s, and when the team withdrew from Formula 1 in the early 1990s, my F1 career was over. But, as a German, driving for Mercedes-Benz since 1991 has been a really special honour – especially due to the fact that I have been able to win so many titles and races with Mercedes-AMG.
TG: Why did you return from retirement? What was the reaction when you came back and started winning everything again?
BS: My last season as a professional in the DTM series was in 2008. Since 2010, when we started our customer racing programme at Mercedes-AMG, I have taken part in different long-distance and sprint races every now and then. I am still amazed at the number of races I managed to win during this time, and it really shows just how good the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is. But I never actually returned to the track as a professional.
TG: Had anything changed between the time you retired and your return?
BS: Not much had changed apart from the fact that you need to be even more focused if you want to win.
TG: What makes events like Arosa Classic appealing to someone of your racing pedigree?
BS: I attend a lot of events for Mercedes-Benz Classic, and I am always excited to drive successful cars from the past. You also get to meet a lot of interesting people at these events and you have time to have a chat with them.
TG: What would be your dream car for the Arosa Classic Hillclimb?
BS: My dream car for this race would be the Mercedes-Benz W25 with more than 600 horsepower that Rudolf Caracciola drove in 1937.
TG: What’s in your personal garage?
BS: A Mercedes-AMG E63 S and a classic SLK 230 Kompressor.
Ted Gushue is a photographer, editor and digital media consultant based in London. He writes about and photographs historical automotive events around the world. Previously he was the Editor of Petrolicious.com, the leading historical automotive community.
Browse our timepieces
Selected For You
Cruising in the Copper State
IWC follows a group of car lovers during the Mercedes 300 SL Classic Rally in Arizona. Read about this four-day adventure through the American West here.
Tests no one can study for
Michael Friedberg takes us inside the IWC Laboratory and reveals the testing process behind our timepieces.
Petrolicious and IWC at the Arosa Rally
Ted Gushue of Petrolicious follows IWC to the 14th Arosa Rally in Arosa, Switzerland. Read his race report here.