Hans Heyer is from Wegberg, the site of the Grenzlandring high speed trace track. He mainly raced touring cars, being popular with the fans for his funny style. Very unusual for his North German origin, Heyer's trademark is his Tirolerhut, a hat from Tyrol or Bavaria which would fit more to drivers from these Alpine countries, like Hans-Joachim Stuck or Niki Lauda.
A similar hat is said to have been the reason for the discovery of the Grenzlandring as a race track, when a local major passed someone wearing such a hat more than once, realising that the road must be a full circle. The road was built around Wegberg during World War II without being shwon in maps.
Living close to the Netherlands and not allowed to race in Germany at age 16, he started his career there in 1959 with Karts and won the 1962 Dutch Championship. For many years, Heyer was associated with Zakspeed, racing their Group 2 Ford Escort in the European Touring Car Championship (champion 1974) and the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (champion 1975 & 1976).
In 1980 he won the DRM again, this time for Lancia in a Group 5 Lancia Monte Carlo Turbo, a car he also helped developing. He crashed his 480hp car badly at the Norisring in Nuremberg, rolling several times. He escaped unhurt, but returned to the wreck to recover his famous hat. In the following medical exam, the doctor was said to have been more nervous than him.
Heyer was also successful in sportscar racing, winning the 1985 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 935.
In his single attempt at Formula One, he entered the 1977 German Grand Prix on July 31, 1977 with the second Penske PC4 of the new German team ATS. With little experience in single seaters and a bad car, he did not qualify. To the surprise of everyone, this did not stop him and he started illegally from the pit lane. He was subsequently black flagged. The car broke down after 9 laps, and he was disqualified. But Heyer had his 10 minutes of fame and one more story to tell.
Heyer retired in 1989 after 999 races in 30 years. In 2004, Volkswagen director Kris Nissen found out about the number and invited Hans Heyer (and his hat) to drive his 1000th race in the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup at the Norisring against youngsters. His son Kenneth Heyer also races at the Nurburging.