Unforgettable - Conni Hahn
19. October 2019Konrad “Conni” Hahn’s story was inextricably linked to trucks – he spent his entire working life up to his elbows in those big machines that keep our world in motion. As a proud Swabian he was partial to the marque with the star. His first encounter with truck racing in 1996 came about entirely by accident. Then a purchasing manager for one of the largest dealers for used commercial vehicles in Baden Württemberg, Conni accepted a racetrailer – with race truck included – as part payment in an exchange deal. But when the dealership could find no buyer for the equipment, Conni and his brother Jörg decided, on a dare, to acquire it themselves and take the plunge into the rough and tumble of racing. But neither Conni nor his family – and certainly not his 22-year-old son Jochen – could have envisaged the trajectory this single decision would set their lives on.
The following year Conni and Jörg Hahn took it in turns to race the truck in the FIA European Cup, but the two parted ways at the end of that season and Conni went it alone in 1998, finishing seventh in the standings.
The following season was his last as a driver. It was certainly the most successful of his brief racing career, but also included that horrendous crash in Zolder. Conni survived unhurt, but the truck was totalled. From then on he stuck to managing the outfit – relapsing only for the 2001 Truck Grand Prix, at which he featured as a guest driver.
It all started with a truck they couldn’t dispose of, but over the next two decades the family built Hahn Racing into the most successful enterprise in the sport’s history. It not only boasts the highest number of championships and championship-winning trucks, but has also proved a profitable and exceptionally productive venture.
A few years ago it was estimated that up to 25 Hahn-built Mercedes and MAN race trucks were active in competition on circuits all over Europe. (After 11 years with Mercedes-Benz, the team had switched to its more endurant German rival.) At the end of the 2016 season, Hahn Racing defected to Iveco. Conni’s was the steady hand guiding the team through each of the transitions, and the numerous Mercedes and MAN machines from the House of Hahn have been joined by five Ivecos. Four of those featured in this year’s championship, finishing in first, fourth, seventh, and eighth places. And, to Conni’s great delight, grandson Lukas took the fifth Iveco to a podium finish on his first competition outing in the Mittelrhein Cup in July.
Conni struggled with illness in his latter years, and that would keep him away from one race or another. But he captained his ship gamely right till his final port of call – Circuit Bugatti, Le Mans, the penultimate round of the 2019 season. There he celebrated the sixth title win by son Jochen, weeping tears of joy at the felicitations of the entire ETRC fraternity, and left for home with a few members of the team. Everybody expected to see him back at the finale in Jarama, so the news of his sudden decease came as a bolt from the blue.
The founder of the Hahn Racing dynasty was laid to rest last week in his home town Altensteig. The truck racing family, including many of Conni’s earliest companions in the sport, turned out in force to pay their respects at a service overflowing with old friends and townsfolk.
Conni will always live in our memories.