Porsche Moment ADAC 1000 Kilometer Race on 29 May, 1977
DrivesToday recounts the story behind a famous picture from Porsche’s past…
DrivesToday readers used to the military efficiency and lightning speed of Formula 1 pitstops will no doubt raise an eyebrow at this apparently disorganised scene at the Nürburgring. But even into the 1990s, pitstops all looked like this. This shot from the ADAC 1000 Kilometer Race on 29 May, 1977 is typical. Unlike today’s F1 factory teams, which benefit from the huge amount of money that underpins modern grand prix racing, the participants here are all privateers. Even the most sophisticated had nothing like the resources of a works team, as Derek Bell would discover when Porsche pulled out of Group C.
One such team in the 1970s was Gelo Racing, which together with the Kremer brothers ruled the sports car and GT roost in Germany for several seasons. Here, the Gelo 935 is being refuelled while behind the wheel, Toine Hezemans has taken over from Rolf Stommelen. Directing operations in the white shirt is team owner Georg Loos. A Cologne entrepreneur who made a fortune from property dealing, Georg had also been something of a playboy racer, enjoying minor success with a Porsche 910 until 1974 when he decided to run his own team. However, the sponsorship income that he anticipated was a disappointment. Georg’s irascible temperament and abrasive approach tended to drive potential business support away. Although Gelo Racing was a significant and lucrative client – Georg owned the cars although Porsche supplied the racing mechanics – the company wasn’t alone in distrusting him and on occasion even turned down his demands.
Porsche did, however, yield when Georg was at Weissach at the end of a relatively fruitless 1977 where the ADAC 1000 Kilometer Race was his only victory and he spotted the twin-turbo 935 undergoing testing. He threw a fit when he realised that Gelo Racing wasn’t going to be offered the twin-turbo, threatening to withdraw his custom entirely. By contrast, the rival Kremer concern had much better relations with Porsche, which recognised in Manfred Kremer a proper engineer. The brothers would go on to develop the 935 with the K1, K2 and K3 versions after Porsche stopped building the 935 in 1978. Toine Hezemans came from a Porsche racing dynasty: his father Thieu had raced an RS 1500 with Carel Godin de Beaufort, and his older son Mike competed in the Porsche Cup in the 1990s. Toine parted company with Georg at the end of 1978 and Georg closed down his team the following season, amid rumours of financial problems.
In the centre background, the sharp-eyed might spot Norbert Singer. Clearly off-duty, the man whose lateral thinking produced the massively successful 935 is discreetly observing proceedings. Even if it wasn’t fielding a works team, the Porsche men were never far from the action.