Hi all, Greetings from Stuttgart once again

by Cara Barrett on September 9, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today we did just two interviews, but there were as different as could be: This morning we talked for 90 minutes with Klaus Bischof whjo joined Porsche in 1968 as a mechanic and now is the Manager of Museum Automobiles. In his job he runs the historic collection and takes museum cars to events and locales as distant as Doha, Qatar in February, Moscow in March, Shanghai last month, Italy in the new few weeks for the retro Mille Miglia races, and, of course, to the  Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca and the Porsche gathering at Quail Lodge later this year in mid-October. A regular participant in most of the world’s greatest historic events, Klaus sports a watch on each wrist, each of them large chronographs that commemorate events we all dream about running. Now 63 years old, he grew up in a village just 4 kilometers from Stuttgart and when he was six and seven, he could hear factory mechanics and drivers such as Herbert Linge running the 550 Spyders up and down the uncompleted autobahn that ended at a tunnel near Heilbronn. He and his friends would run from their homes to the autobahn overpass and they’d see the 550s coming at them up the hill, pass under them, speed toward the tunnel, brake hard, pull across the median, and rocket back down the hill toward Zuffenhausen. He told us those days changed his life; he dreamed that someday he would work on those cars.

Klaus was full of great stories including one about one of the 917s he cared for during 1971. The cars were losing their brakes and he asked racing director Rico Steinemann what he should tell the drivers when they came into the pits and complained. Rico gave him an answer and the next time Helmut Marko came in, Bischof passed on the boss’s advice: “If you want to win, don’t use the brakes.” Marko won, setting the fastest lap time and average speed of any 917 in competition ever.

Our second interview today was with a man Jerry and I met four years ago working on Porsche 60 Years. These days, Herbert Ampferer is Porsche’s Director for Environment and Energy, and much of his time is spent dealing with issues of emissions and alternative fuels. But with the Le Mans regulations for 2013 and 2014 encouraging partial- and full-hybrid race cars such as Porsche 911 GT3-H and the type 918 RSR, the future is anything but dull. In fact, Ampferer is confident Porsche will continue to race, that it will continue to hold its unique place within the larger Volkswagen family, and he offered us some insights into the racing direction the company is taking now and in the future.

He said I can write about it—but for the book, not for this—since the book is a year or more in the future and the blog is, umm, tonight.

Following nearly two hours with Ampferer, we prowled the museum. It is really a fascinating place and even on a Friday, the building had a large crowd. You’ll see a few photos attached here.

We are off to see Walter Rohrl tomorrow afternoon in the tiny village where he lives south of Munich. As a former world champion in rallies, and in Trans-Am, and a winner at Pikes Peak, he has promised us he has stories to tell.

Meanwhile, if you’re enjoying any of this, let me know and let your Porsche-enthusiast friends know as well, please.

Stay tuned,


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