Of the open air café racer festivals held in Europe – including Wheels and Waves (Biarritz) and the Montlhery Café Racer Festival (Paris), The Glemseck 101 Café Racer Sprint can probably claim to being Europe’s premier event. Every year, on the first weekend in September, in excess of 40,000 fans congregate at the famous Solitude Race Track adjacent to Leonberg, near Stuttgart - where the German Grand Prix was held up until the mid 1960s.
The Glemseck 101
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the three day festival has grown steadily since its inception largely thanks to its friendly laid-back nature, scenic countryside setting, live entertainment, vibrant trade area and inspiring array of bikes on show from some of Europe’s leading custom builders.
The main event itself is a series of 1/8th mile café racer sprints held on part of the old race circuit. Entrants come from all over Europe, some from even further afield. Demand always far outstrips the limited number of places. There are no restrictions on age of bike entered but each café racer must be street legal and be licensed and insured for use on the road.
The sheer range of bikes on show is impressive: plenty of British metal in the form of Thruxtons, Tritons, Triumphs and the odd BSA; beautiful Italian classics including Moto Guzzis and Levardas from the 70s and 80s and a huge number of Boxer twin customs. Add to that mix all manner of shed-build and back street specialist custom bikes and there’s a veritable cornucopia of metal to drool over.
European Custom Builders
The line-up of European custom builders is impressive and this year included machinery from such esteemed names as El Solitario, (Spain) Wrenchmonkees, (Denmark) Lucky Cat Garage, (France) Young Guns Speed Shop, (Switzerland) Valtoron (Spain) and JvB-Moto (Germany) – to name but a few.
The organisers - partnered and supported by the City of Leonberg, in cooperation with Hotel Glemseck and German Motorcycle magazine MO (media partner), have made various improvements since it started and this year spectators had the opportunity of watching the sprint from a new grandstand.
Red Torpedo & Ace Cafe London
Since its initial year, Ace Cafe London has established a close relationship with the event’s organisers and Red Torpedo has partnered the Ace at the event for the last five years. We’ve taken over some special guests including, (in 2011), 16 times TT podium finisher and emulsion method tea drinker Guy Martin and, (in 2012 and 2015), one of the all time fastest TT racers from a standing start - Conor Cummins. The Ramsay Rocket loves the laid back nature of the Glemseck and this year rode a tricked up Norton Commando in the sprint events. Conor also cranked up a Fender Precision bass and sat in with the Red Torpedo house band for an impromptu gig at their retail tent on the Saturday night. The fact that the shoulder strap was knackered didn’t deter the big fella who improvised with a bungee strap as a (somewhat flexible) substitute – worthy of a Two Metre Man! Other famous faces this year included ex World Superbike Champion Troy Corser who demonstrated the considerable performance of the new Lotus C-O1, Nina Prince and TT racer Maria Costello who rode a whole selection of bikes including a BMW RNineT.
Surrounding Area of Stuttgart
Being situated close to Stuttgart, the surrounding area also offers some top motorcycling territory to explore and a number of interesting motorsport museums to visit including the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen and the National Two Wheeler Museum at Neckarsulm.
So, if you’ve never been over to the Glemseck 101 Café Racer Sprint grab a flight to Stuttgart – or better still, pack some gear and go by bike: we guarantee that you’ll have a blast at Europe’s premier Café Racer event.
Photography: James King