Porsche mourns the loss of early company employee, Herbert Linge

Porsche mourns the loss of early company employee, Herbert Linge

The Porsche community is mourning the loss of former racing driver and Operations Manager of the Weissach Development Centre, Herbert Linge, who died on 5th January aged ninety-five. Linge played an instrumental role in establishing Porsche’s proving ground and, through his work with motorsport’s governing body, was responsible for the introduction of life-saving measures at race tracks all over the world. He was one of Porsche’s first apprentices and, in the late 1950s, was the man who suggested a site near his hometown of Weissach (and the neighbouring settlement of Flacht) to be used for Porsche testing and development.

Born on 11th June 1928 in Weissach, Linge received his first Porsche ID card on 7th April 1943, a few weeks before his fifteenth birthday. Six years later, he was the first mechanic employed by the manufacturer after it moved from Gmünd to Stuttgart — Linge was one of the few remaining people to have personally known Professor Ferdinand Porsche, a consequence of Linge being involved in the development of the first 356 built in Stuttgart. The company’s early sports cars were not delivered until he had successfully test-driven them.

From 1952, Linge travelled regularly to the USA in order to establish a nationwide Porsche dealer network. As many employees were encouraged to make the most of their various skills in the early years of the Porsche company, Linge was also able to prove himself as a development driver. He was valued by colleagues as a gifted mechanic and analyst, as well as for showing a talent for racing. His co-drivers would rave about the precision with which he drove sports cars, while others admired his level-headedness when behind the wheel.

Linge was awarded the Mexican Order of Merit for three consecutive class victories in the Carrera Panamericana (1952 to 1954). Seated alongside Hans Herrmann, he secured a class victory in a 550 Spyder at the 1954 Mille Miglia, a race now the stuff of legend after the duo were forced to duck in order to pass under the closing barrier of a railway crossing. Linge went on to celebrate further class wins, not only at the Mille Miglia, but also at the Targa Florio.

He finished as overall winner of the 1954 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, the 1960 Tour de Corse and the Nürburgring’s 1967 Marathon de la Route. He started he 24 Hours of Le Mans eleven times, with eight rankings and several class wins. In 1965, together with Peter Nöcker, he won the Index of Performance award at Le Mans for the most economical ratio of fuel consumption to engine capacity. That same year, Linge and future Porsche racing director, Peter Falk, finished fifth in the Monte Carlo Rally. After retiring from his role as Operations Manager at the Weissach Development Centre in 1987, Linge continued to work as a motorsport consultant. With motorsport safety high on his personal agenda, he founded the safety arm of Germany’s Supreme National Sports Commission for Motorsport (ONS) in 1972, introducing fire extinguishers to safety cars, saving the lives of numerous drivers as a result. Ten years later, Linge was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in honour of his lifetime achievements in motorsport. Incidentally, his first ONS service car was a 914/6 GT, which took part in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally. The boxy Porsche, equipped with safety apparatus and a fire extinguishing system, became known as the ‘world’s fastest fire engine’.

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