Commentator Karl-Heinz Hufstadt, known as the 'Voice of the DTM' has died of a heart attack at the age of 63.

It was rather by chance that the motorsport fan turned into a leading commentator, after he stood in for a missing race caller at an airfield event in 1968. 'Captain' Hufstadt enjoyed the task so much that, from that day onwards, he regularly practised what he once referred to as "the honourable profession of trackside speaker".

He combined passion and hobby to lay the foundations for his profession and, from 1972 to 1980, 'Kalli' worked as press officer for BMW, while also racing its touring cars in 1976 and 1977. In 1982, Hufstadt started working as freelance publisher for Motorsports and Automotive Engineering and as marketing and product trainer.

He fascinated, not only DTM enthusiasts, but also Formula One spectators at the annual Hockenheim and N?rburgring events. His approach - both professional and humane at the same time - was held in high regard by numerous companies such as BMW, DEKRA and Mercedes-Benz, for whom Kalli spoke at fairs and presentations.

"Kalli was an exceptional man," said ITR chairman Hans-Werner Aufrecht, "We will sadly miss his profound humanity, his wonderful sense of humour and his uniquely vivid style of presentation. His heartfelt kindness contributed decisively to an amicable way of working with each other in the paddock. His untimely death has filled all of us with deep sadness. Our sympathy is with his wife Conny and his relatives."

"I am very sad," echoed Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug, "Kalli has been a friend for 30 years. He has formed motorsports in Germany like few other people, and he has always been positive and completely committed. His death is a great loss.."

Opel Sports director Volker Strycek spoke of a "massive personal loss".

"Kalli has almost been something like a father figure for me, accompanying me through my professional life," he explained, "I valued both his personality and his abilities as a presenter. It's hard to appreciate what Kalli did for the DTM. My heart goes out to his family."

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, sports director with Audi, only met Kalli last year, but also saw his death as a heavy blow.

"Kalli Hufstadt was an institution," he said, "He enthused absolutely everybody as 'the Voice of the DTM'. Together with all DTM fans, we will miss him."

One typical 'Kalli moment' occurred at a race in the nineties, and has since become cult.

On race morning, Kalli took out his mouth organ and played Morning has broken over the PA-system. This little performance became a nice tradition, and everyone who heard the tune - be it drivers, team managers or fans - was moved.

"The song got a very special meaning on two occasions - on the farewell of the old DTM in 1996, and at its rebirth in 2000," Hufstadt said, "It became the acoustic symbol for the DTM's strength and uniqueness