“Graber Sportgarage AG“ from Toffen near Bern in Switzerland is a big player in international historic motorsport. Since two decades, the team and it`s customers are present in all sorts of historic racing series all over the world: wether you are visiting the Goodwood Revival, the classic Daytona 24h or a heat for the PeterAuto series, it is very likely you will meet owner and director Christian Traber and his team in the paddock, taking care of his clients cars or even driving a state of the art ProCar BMW M1 masterfully by himself. As a longtime business partner concerning motorsport christmas cards, the TSS had the chance to talk to him at his shop in Toffen, right at the foot of the pittoresque swiss alps. TSS: The factory “Graber Sportgarage AG” has a long tradition in building automobiles, it goes back to the 20`s of the last century! CT: Yes, the name and the company exist since 1925, even the logo was already created back then it was never changed ever since! The founder, Hermann Graber built bodyworks and converted normal cars into convertibles and coupes. His work on Bentleys, Bugattis and Rolls-Royces was accomplished all over the world. He died in 1970 but his widow carried on the workshop until 1980. The main business was then the restoration of Italian and german sports cars. TSS: And when did you join the company? CT: together with some friends my father and myself took over the company in 1982. The company back then was based in Wichtrach, some 15Km from here. We carried on H. Graber’s work and also had the Ferrari dealership for the canton of Bern. We gave up the base in Wichtrach and moved to Toffen in 2001, where we merged with the existing “Oldtimer Reparatur AG” here. Today Graber Sportgarage is mainly focused on the service, maintenance, race preparation and trading of classic and historic sports cars. So the activities today are not the same anymore, but we kept the famous name “Graber”. TSS: How were you connected to cars and motorsport when you were young? CT: My dad started collecting cars at the end of the sixties when I was 14 years old. I was always interested in his old cars, had a slot car track and go-karts but with a more amateurish approach. I never did motorsport actively as a youngster, but got involved only as a driver in historic racing in 1986 at the age of 30. My first event was the historic Mille Miglia and then I entered the Race Driving School of Bob Bondurant in Arizona – I was there seven times! But in the beginning, I did far more training and trackdays than racing. Historic racing for me began seriously in the mid-nineties with the Ferrari challenge and from then on, it got more and more involved. In 2003 I started really regular Racing, because we had customers from the historic motor racing scene. Today I go racing wherever our customers want to compete. So we have a busy schedule all through the year and I drive about 30 races per year. On one side I am the team manager - our team takes care of our customers at the track. Sometimes I share the car with a customer, sometimes I also drive my own cars. We provide the whole service for our customers: we bring the car to the track with our own trucks, maintain it with our mechanics and engineers, and take it to the workshop again. So he has only to show, drive and go back home again. This year, we did the whole Peter Auto series for example. Through these activities, I got to know a lot of people directly involved in historic racing and this makes it so valuable for the company. People see that the cars we run are reliable and perform well, so we were able to establish ourselves in historic racing. It is a passion for me, but of course also a business. Lots of our customers are with us in racing since a long time (15 years or more), so we know already, which cars we will take care of next year. TSS: Are you open for each customer or does it depend on the type of car? CT: Of course, the car has to fit in our portfolio. We mainly do historic touring and sports cars, formula cars do not play a big role for us. I am the only one driving formula cars sometime. TSS: You developed into a really good driver. I remember races where you were racing against the turbo Porsche 935`s in your inferior BMW M1 ProCar. Which are your favourite tracks? CT: I love to drive at Spa, of course, but also I really like Imola. This year, I mainly drove my two BMW`s , the 2002 ti and the M1, a Porsche RSR, but I also did three races in my Formula Junior within the Lurani Trophy. It is a very competitive race series with big fields and a big variety of cars. TSS: What I always wonder is, how intense racing sometimes is in historic motorsport. Do you drivers forget about the value of the cars while competing? CT: No, we don`t forget. I always stay within the technical limits of the cars. I am aware that we drive sometimes extremely expensive and rare cars but we also drive a race and you want to be as fast as you can – your competitors also give their best, so you cannot just go for a Sunday afternoon drive… you are giving everything you can. TSS: For me, the toughest competition each year happens at the Revival in Goodwood - why? CT: The Revival is special because of the star drivers competing and the cars, which are mainly built and tuned especially for this event. You may not think, that the cars competing there, are in their original condition. There, and at certain events in Germany, the cars are mainly replicas and they are only similar to the cars from period when you look at them from the outside. But underneath the bonnet, it’s a different world. The engines are tuned to the maximum and the cars are completely different from what they were back then. It is of course ok for the spectators and the drama, but they are not historically correct anymore. That is, why the driving generally is harder and you usually do not have to take care for an especially rare car. The technical inspection is much less strict and accurate then for example at the PeterAuto events – there you can be sure, that the cars you see on track are authentic and competition is fair. TSS: Thank you for your time and your open words. I am looking forward to see you on track again next year. CT:  I thank you!
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