Historic racer who was trgically killed when his 1937 BMW 328 rolled during the Oldtimer Festival at the NÃ¼rburgring in 2004.
Barthel was killed when his open-top 1937 BMW 328 rolled at the NKG chicane on the afternoon, . It was the second fatal accident in two years in the Internationales Oldtimer Festival Nürburgring.
Barthel, a sixty-two year old resident of Berlin, Germany, was taking part on the first event of the United Kingdom-based "Motor Racing Legends" series to be ever raced in Germany. The race included two forty-five minute headers, and during each of them a driver change should be performed. Drivers racing without mates had to carry a "symbolic driver change" by stopping at the pitlane, climbing from the car, running around the machine once and then returning to the wheel. Barthel, who was participating in the event alone, used this procedure on the Saturday race, and repeated it twenty-five minutes within Sunday's header. Two laps after this stop Barthel would suffer the accident that cost his life: the snow-white BMW went through the Hatzbachbogen in high speed and proceeded toward the chicane, where it slid sideways under braking. In horror, spectators at the grandstand saw the snow-white BMW roll, ending upside-down in the gravel trap with Bathel pinned underneath it.
The rescue operation was quite fast: in a matter of seconds members of the DMSB safety team and marshals reached the site of the crash, and together they lift the car in order to free Bathel, who could not be assisted otherwise. With covers and tarpaulins the marshals prevented the rescue scene of being followed by the spectators in the grandstand; two minutes later the driver arrived at the Nürburgring circuit clinic, where the doctor diagnosed the occurrence of extensive internal injuries. As Barthel's wounds were critical and could not be treated at that clinic, he was immediately flown to the intensive care ward of the Bonn University Hospital - where he passed away shortly after being admitted.
As the outcome of the accident was still unknown, the organizers of the "Motor Racing Legends" decided to race two races for vintage motorcycles before calling the event off. According to local Fire Department supervisor Winfried Dederichs, Barthel's accident was very similar to the fatal crashed of two years before during the 2002 Internationales Oldtimer Festival, where the driver perished after his vintage car - as Barthel's, also not equipped with a roll-bar - overturned. The crash was to be investigated by the Kriminalpolizei as an industrial accident, and not as a traffic occurrence.