“Dr Thomas Betzler (1949-2014)”
The Deputy Chairman of DTM rights holder ITR, Dr Thomas Betzler, passed last week following a serious illness.
A former part-time racer, Betzler was introduced to motorsport by a school friend in the late 60s, with the teenage Betzler making competitive starts in a Renault R8 Gordini.
By 1970, Betzler had become a force in the Rundstrecken Meisterschaft (a former German championship for touring and GT cars), with the burgeoning racer finishing the season as runner-up in the series to the BMW-powered Alpina of Dieter Hegel.
Betzler took five class victories in 1970 (Hockenheim (twice), Zolder, Mainz-Finthen and Ulm-Laupheim – the latter being a “home race”); however with a total score of 95 points, the Renault-man fell short of Hegel’s total by just five.
Following that success, Renault signed Betzler up as a works Formula 3 driver, while the then 21-year-old also competed in the European Touring Car Championship with Alfa Romeo.
Thereafter Betzler’s racing career drew to a close, although he would continue to make appearances in the DRM (the previous iteration of the DTM) and the ETCC with BMW, before hanging up his helmet.
Always a racer, Betzler obtained his doctorate and law licence, working as a solicitor in sports and traffic law from the mid-80s, operating – mostly – of behalf of car manufacturers, race series organisations, media and sportspeople.
Betzler was one of the founding member’s of the ITR board in 1986 and became the Deputy Chairman of ITR in 2003.
Commenting on Betzler’s passing, ITR chairman Hans Werner Aufrecht noted: “The news of Thomas Betzler’s death did not only affect me in my position as Chairman of ITR but also on a personal basis. We spent a major part of our journeys through life together – both at and [away] from the racetracks. I have lost a friend and the DTM fraternity a valuable member whose heart belonged to motor racing throughout his life.”
Betzler’s passing is a great loss to the DTM family, his absence will be felt most by those left behind. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.