The town where seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher grew up and married his wife Corinna sadly now sits almost abandoned and awaits demolition.
Kerpen-Manheim may be only a very small village, but it is a village which will be forever synonymous with one of Germany’s and Formula 1’s greatest sporting stars.
It was in Kerpen-Manheim where Schumacher grew up as a youngster, while his parents would take him to the karting track there after he had crashed the motorcycle engine-powered pedal kart which his dad had made for him into a lamp post!
Schumacher became the youngest member of the karting club, and that marked the start of the journey which ultimately saw Schumacher become a legendary figure in Formula 1 as a seven-time World Champion.
It was also in this village where he married his wife Corinna, back in 1995.
However, these days only 12 residents remain in the village, and soon it will be zero, with the town soon to make way for the Hambach open-cast mine.
And sadly it seems this fate is one which is very much reflected in the state of the town, with images showing overgrown roads and boarded up houses dominating the landscape.
Auto Bild state that excavation work to bring the town down will begin in 2024, though the karting track will be preserved, while the listed St. Albanus and Leonhardus church will be spared demolition.
The Schumacher household, restored and run by Michael’s brother Ralf Schumacher, will also remain standing.
“I grew up with lots of animals. Of course, that leaves its mark,” Ralf told Auto Bild. “And since, thanks to the Greens [political party], my entire hometown didn’t fall victim to lignite mining after all.
“I took the opportunity to restore my childhood home to the way it used to be. A farm with lots of animals. Fortunately, due to the new plans, the go-kart track is still there.”
And it is a go-kart track which until recently, Ralf served as the youth director for, the six-time F1 race winner speaking of its value as the nation of Germany looks to discover a new generation of talent.
With four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel having retired from Formula 1 at the end of 2022, while Michael’s son Mick Schumacher was dropped by Haas, it meant that Mick’s replacement Nico Hulkenberg is the only German representative on the F1 2023 grid, with suggestions having emerged that the German junior racing scene is in a worrying state.
“I was the youth director until recently, but now someone else is doing it, which makes sense because I can’t always be on site,” said Ralf on the Kerpen-Manheim track. “But I’m glad that the kart track is still there.
“It has been newly asphalted and parts of it are on land that belongs to me. I live right next door. We try to promote young German drivers, which is hard enough in Germany at the moment.”
Ralf’s nephew Mick does remain involved with the Formula 1 scene, having been signed by Michael’s former team Mercedes after his exit from Haas.