Portrait: Anton Mang, from cinema to tracks

We have all heard his name at least once, but did not really know who it was.. Today, let’s take a look at this legendary driver from different angles.

Born in 1949 in Bavaria, Anton did not wait for the world’s tracks to develop under close scrutiny. Indeed, he is one of those child actors that you see in movies. From 1956 to 1959, Mang played in four productions and even took the lead roles in The Bremen Town Musicians (Reiner Geiss, 1959), feature film inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ Count.

At the age of 11, he decided to quit acting in order to … ski bikes ; These are “bicycles” whose wheels are replaced by boards to race on snow-covered slopes. Still, from an early age, Anton is not in the mood for jokes! Champion of Germany and Europe among juniors in this atypical discipline. Only at the age of 18 did he deign to try his hand at motorcycle racing, on 50cc Kreidler.

Anton, 21, is passionate about the mechanical aspect of racing. So to make a name for himself he joined the team Dieter Brown, another great German racing driver, as a talented mechanic. He develops contacts as well as experience and this leads him to be hired 350 cc Yamaha after some time in the national championship.

In the same 1975, he made his world debut on SMZ 350ss (a machine he helped develop). In 1976, he played full-time for the first time on Morbidelli 125cc private. If the beginning of the season is honorable, the consecration comes earlier than expected in their own land. The terrible Nürburgring, wet (as often happens), benefits the young “Tony”.

Angel Nieto, Pier Paolo Bianchi – soon to become world champion – and Gerd Bender fall into these Dante conditions. Mang takes on the case on his own and masterfully imposes himself. This is the first big career. Thanks to this success and a worthy 1977 (where he even tried his hand at 500cc in a private Suzuki), Kawasaki debauchery for their 250cc and 350cc program.

Kawasaki KR350 driven by Anton Mang. Photo: Markscheider

He won his first race Kava KR250 at Silverstone and played for the title in his third year with the Greens in 1980. Despite one win less than Cork Ballington (Kawasaki), Anton wins his first 250cc title by a comfortable margin. At 350cc he collided with another South African in the face John Ackerold.

His best year is undoubtedly 1981. Still on Kawasaki, he quickly makes short work of his teammate. Jean Francois Balde and won the 250cc title with the vast majority of wins. In the same event, he won the 350cc class, becoming one of the few riders to achieve a double.

The 1982 season was marked by two legendary clashes. First, Tony vs. Jean Louis Tournadre a quarter liter. Although the Frenchman won at the Nogaro track, the German, like many other riders, decided not to take part in the race on this too dangerous track. Unfortunately for him, this round was not to be missed.

Throughout the season, Anton dominates, clinging victories like pearls. However, Tournadre’s Yamaha showed impressive consistency and rarely finished higher than third. in Grand Prix of Yugoslavia. is the turning point of the season. Mang, forced to retire, leaves the door to the championship wide open. Despite two new victories over Mugello and to Hockenheim (five successes to just one for the Frenchman), Tony lost the title by one point. Cruel.

In 350cc it’s exactly the opposite. It was one of the most controversial seasons of all time. Mang (kawasaki), Didier de Radigue (Knight), Eric Saul (Knight), Carlos washed out (Yamaha) Christian Sarron (Yamaha) Jean Francois Balde (Kawasaki) or even Alan North as well as Jacques Cornu one could hope to win the race.

But thanks to excellent consistency – and just one victory – it’s really Mang who wins in front of Radigues, for the latest 350cc championship. The end of a category marks the beginning of problems.

Tony was injured skiing before the 1983 season, which he had to do in 500cc, very physical machines. Shortening the season, he decides to return to his favorite 250cc category. Unfortunately, the results do not come immediately. Now on a 1985 Honda.he gets back on his feet but fails in the title race against Freddie Spencer on assignment.

Mun on a Honda in a 1987 solo concert.

He was then one of the favorites for the 1986 season, but things did not go as planned. He breaks cooperation with Sepp Schlegelhis friend and chief mechanic, and fails in fourth place. However, the legend is eternal.

In 1987, at the age of 38 and with twelve seasons on the clock, Anton started the season brilliantly and won his last title, finishing fifth overall. He accumulates more wins on his own (eight) than all other drivers in the grid combined. The worst thing is that the guy does not want to stop there!

He did it again a year later, but was stopped by a major crash on the track. cursed chain of Rijeka. After 42 victories, Tony retires, somewhat forced. Anton Manga, who is often compared to Nieto as a “specialist in small categories”, can certainly be called a virtuoso, highly regarded behind the Rhine. Let’s pay tribute to the great pilot, along with the great man.

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