It was easy for me. I was just holding the route card for my driver, former racing director Peter Falk, who was driving the 1983 Paris-Dakar 4-wheel-drive 911SC Typ 953 that he helped invent. Our excuse was a huge celebration of 125 Years of the Automobile in the German province of Baden-Wurttemburg, home of Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Each of these manufacturers pulled treasures from their museums to make a total of 125 cars that drove a 17.5-kilometer route from the Porsche Museum to the Mercedes-Benz Museum to the center of Stuttgart and the city hall.
The parade started at 11 a.m. and the pace alternately stalled and sprinted, some of the cars reaching speeds above 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph) on three separate autobahn stretches. Through the city, crowds closed in on the cars narrowing roadways to single lanes lined with men, women, children, and thousands of cameras. When progress stopped, people recognized Herrmann in the 917 and Ickx in his 936 and ran out to get autographs. We haven't heard crowd estimates but it's easy to imagine as many as 25,000 people lined the parade route and another 10,000 to 15,000 came to City Hall square to see the cars and greet the heroes.
|Heading toward the Mercedes-Benz Museum still on the Autobahn. We rounded a corner and came to a halt as thousands of spectators had crowded the road to take pictures.|
We dive back into interviews Monday with a full slate of great and important talent: Norbert Singer, engineer extraordinaire, was responsible for everything from 935s to efforts in the Indy Car series. First thing after lunch we talk to another legend, Hans Mezger, who ran the Race Car Development Department. His work started before—and included creating—the 917 that Herrmann drove and the 936 that Ickx drove in the parade. Last on our schedule tomorrow is an unsung, and never-interviewed, engineer, Eugen Kolb, who is father of long-tail aerodynamics. Those extraordinary-looking racers with the back ends stretched out and tapering to a sliver are the work of this man. His cars routinely went 20 to 30 mph faster along the Le Mans Mulsanne Straight than the cars with the close-cropped tails.
We have, in all, ten interviews to accomplish this week, so, unglamourously, most of Friday and much of Saturday was spent researching for these upcoming conversations. There's so much to learn and so little time!
|This was my ride Sunday. Many people have called it one of Porsche's loudest race cars. I couldn't hear them. This was Porsche's 1983 entry in the Paris-Dakar Rally, the 4-wheel drive 911SC, also known as the Typ 953.|