Superman, Montreal and a raccoon
Bruno Spengler has been racing in the DTM for over twelve years. The Canadian ranks among the most popular drivers in the field. At the Nürburgring, he has already won three races. DTM.com spoke with the 34-year-old about his youth in his home country and his goals for the weekend.
You did your first DTM race on 17 April, 2005. 151 races, 15 victories and the 2012 title down the road, what is the first memory that comes to mind from this long era?
Quite a lot, actually. Many positive things, many victories, my championship title. Of course, there was also a spell in which I had bad luck. But that is just part of the game. The DTM has always been a really difficult series. Nothing has changed in that respect. The learning curve never stops. You can’t always win and be up front, but it has always been a great, interesting time, and it still is. I am still having a lot of fun. Over the years in the DTM, I have learned a lot about racing, race cars, development, about people in general and about myself. And it continues.
On and off the track, you are known as a fair and gentleman-like driver. Are you always ‘Mr. Nice Guy’? Or are there also situations in which you lose your temper? Did you ever vent your frustration at the track, like Timo Glock did it at Zandvoort recently?
Everybody occasionally has moments like that. I am an emotional person. I had situations in which there was some bad contact at the track and I was really upset. At Zandvoort in 2007, I used a swear word in front of the camera because somebody had run into my car. When I am happy, it is clear to see, but when I am not happy, it is likewise. I say it as it is. That is the way I work best.
I was told that you particularly appeal to the female fans because of your charming way. How do you explain that?
Okay, I don’t know. That is for others to judge. I can’t explain it. It is hard to speak about one self.
You are a Canadian, ice hockey is the national sport in your country. Did you ever try that?
Yes, back in the day at school and just for fun, but never really in a team. I prefer cross-country skiing. That was my sport. I did a lot of skating since I was ten years old. That is a tough sport, but it is cool. I also tried biathlon a few times, I did some events with BMW.
Your father worked in a zoo, you grew up amidst the beautiful forests of Canada. You even had your own raccoon. What was that like for you at the time?
That was a great time, that is correct. The raccoon was named Vortex, after the engine in my go-kart. I also had two baby bears once when I was 13 or 14. We had found them in the forest, there were no parents, and we raised them for a while before giving them back their freedom again.
With whom would you like to rotate jobs for one day?
With Superman, because he is able to fly. But only for one day. After that, I want to race again.
Racing is similar to swimming, you never lose the ability. Still, drivers always have highs and lows in their careers. How much can a driver contribute to the result in a race? Which other components are playing a role there?
For me, the share of the driver is 50 percent. When your car isn’t 100 percent perfect, you can’t make it into the top three. No matter how well you are doing your job. But the other way round is true as well. And then you also need a little bit of luck, not having any punctures or technical failures or the like. That is the difficult thing about motor racing: so many things have to work together in order to be able to win. In tennis or in golf, it is only down to one self.
Because of its mat black design, your fans have named your BMW ‘Black Beast’. After victories, you have a tradition of kissing the bonnet. How did you get that idea?
That first happened at Zandvoort in 2006. When I got out of the car, it crossed my mind that I somehow wanted to thank the team, and that is why I jumped onto the car and hugged and kissed it. It was very spontaneous.
Which track would you like to see added to the DTM calendar for next year?
Montreal. My home race. That track would also be suited for the DTM cars very well. I am certain that the Canadian fans would love the DTM. They like show, they like fast and loud cars and they are very passionate about motorsport. There would be many spectators and I would be happy to race at home for once.
You have already won three times in the Eifel, with Mercedes in 2006 and 2010 and with BMW in 2012. How much money would you bet on your fourth win at the Nürburgring this weekend?
I never bet on my own results. I do my utmost and I try to be as far up as possible. I like the Nürburgring, I like the Eifel. Spectators are always there, no matter what the weather is like. Conditions here are always difficult: it can rain, sometimes it can even snow. This year, I participated in the Nürburgring 24-hour race for the first time. People say that you need at least one or two attempts to feel well here. It was a great experience. Chances are good. But we have to see what the opposition is doing. Everything is so closely together, it all has to fit. Mercedes is strong in the rain. It is difficult to say whether I will win or not. But in any case, I will do everything for it.
You are currently tenth in the standings with 62 points. You are 66 points down on championship leader Mattias Ekström. Do you still count yourself in as one of the title contenders?
Mathematically, it is still possible, but it isn’t really realistic. The gap simply is too big, it won’t be enough to clinch the title. I am now focussing on the races and I try to score maximum points until the end of the season and then, we will see where we end up.