• Porsche China. WEC Leader Strives for Another Podium with New 911 RSR. • Encore. Encore. Porsche Customer Teams Use IMSA Sebring Event to Test. • Mister Le Mans. Porsche Motorsport Master Celebrates 80th Birthday. • Creative Spirit. Porsche Congratulates Engineering Legend Mezger on Milestone Birthday. • Career and Highlights at Porsche. Hans Mezger.
Event Story Lines.
Porsche China. WEC Leader Strives for Another Podium with New 911 RSR.
Porsche aims to defend its lead in the manufacturers’ classification of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) entering round three of the 2019 – 2020 season. The factory team takes on the four-hour race in Shanghai (China), scheduled for November 10, with two of the latest generation ca. 515 hp Porsche 911 RSR race cars. After clinching a one-two LMGTE-Pro class finish at the season-opening race at the Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain and a podium result at the second race at Fuji, Japan, the Porsche GT Team is now eager to perform well again at the circuit located on the outskirts of the Chinese commercial metropolis of Shanghai. In the LMGTE-Am class, three customer teams will field a total of six 2017-spec Porsche 911 RSR.
The 3.39-miles (5.451-kilometer)-long Shanghai International Circuit has regularly hosted the WEC over the years. Changing weather conditions in China’s autumn often throws enormous challenges at teams and drivers. In addition, the modern facility offers a special feature. The first corner forms the shape of a snail shell, with the radius of the right-hander gradually tightening. This places considerable stresses on the left-hand-side tires. The track layout was inspired by the Chinese character “Shang” meaning “ascend”. In the 2018 – 2019 season, the two works-Porsche 911 RSR yielded podium results in Shanghai.
Previous Silverstone winners Richard Lietz (Austria) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) share the cockpit of the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR. The pair currently ranks third in the drivers’ classification. Their works driver colleagues Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) lead the category just two points ahead. The reigning world sports car champions share the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR. After the first two races of this season, Porsche leads the manufacturers’ classification with a five-point advantage.
In the non-works Pro-Am style class, German customer squad Dempsey-Proton Racing fields three 2017-spec Porsche 911 RSR. Sharing the wheel of the No. 77 ca. 510 hp vehicle are Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and the Italian Riccardo Pera. Porsche Young Professional Thomas Preining from Austria competes with others in the No. 88 sister car. This marks a guest appearance for the No. 78 vehicle. The same crew that contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2019 will helm the vehicle: the father-son team Louis and Philippe Prette (Italy) as well as Frenchman Vincent Abril.
Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) joins forces with Le Mans class winner Egidio Perfetti (Norway) and the David Heinemeier Hansson (Denmark) in the No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the Team Project 1 customer squad. The Texan Ben Keating and two drivers from the Netherlands share the No. 57 car: Larry ten Voorde and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Gulf Racing’s number 86 vehicle is manned by the all-British crew of Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Andrew Watson.
The new Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) contests its maiden season in the world sports car championship. The vehicle from Weissach, Germany produces approximately 515 hp depending on the air restrictor and is based on the high-performance 911 GT3 RS road-going sports car. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the car for the LMGTE-Pro class received improvements to areas such as drivability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. Approximately 95 percent of the car is new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport.
“After winning the titles in the North American IMSA series, our works squads can now concentrate totally on the mission with the latest generation Porsche 911 RSR. The first two races of the FIA WEC season with the new car have already yielded great results with a one-two at Silverstone followed by the pole position and a podium finish at Fuji. It can continue like this. I’m confident that our experienced team and our top drivers will also get the best out of Shanghai.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“We’re leading the manufacturers’ championship after two races and our Porsche pairings rank first and second in the drivers’ classification. It’s been a great season so far. However, we still have some tasks on our to-do list. We’ve already learned a great deal about the idiosyncrasies of our new Porsche 911 RSR. If we can continue to make systematic progress, then I’m sure we’ll celebrate more successes. We want to finish on the podium at Shanghai – preferably at the very top. After our bad luck here in the past two years, I think we would deserve that.”
Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC.
“After the first and second-place finish at Silverstone and second-place in Fuji, our goal is clear: to extend our lead in the manufacturers’ and drivers’ classifications. Up to now we’ve been very pleased with our new Porsche 911 RSR’s results. Nevertheless, there are still some areas where we can and must improve on. I’m certain that we’ll succeed with this very soon, and I’m really looking forward to a successful outing in China.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Last year we finished on the podium, so we’re returning to Shanghai with fond memories. Personally, I don’t mind the changing weather conditions because it adds to the excitement. Our car underlined its very good potential during the first two races of the season, but we’ve not always been able to make full use of that potential. If we can make the most of the possibilities that the new Porsche 911 RSR offers then we can go for a top result in China.”
Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“For me personally, the upcoming race holds a very special meaning. The Shanghai International Circuit is the only racetrack on the FIA WEC calendar where I’ve not yet won. At the previous round in Fuji, we weren’t able to get the most out of the new Porsche 911 RSR. In China, we’d like to build on our Silverstone achievement and, if possible, bring home our second win of the season.”
Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“We still have a score to settle with this racetrack. In the past two years we were in the lead but ultimately we missed out on climbing to the top of the podium. In China, the weather often plays a crucial role. When it rains, it pours. In 2018, the race even had to be halted because of a thunderstorm. I hope we have dry conditions this year. Then we’ll witness a great race in our fiercely contested GTE-Pro class.”
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It feels good to travel to the next race leading the drivers’ classification. We’re at the top because we made the most of the opportunities at the first two rounds of the season. We want to continue like this in Shanghai. The new Porsche 911 RSR has great potential. I’m sure that the track in China suits our car better than the Fuji circuit. The signs for another top result look promising.”
Matteo Cairoli, Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
“Shanghai is one of the toughest circuits on the calendar for me. In dry conditions the tire wear is enormous. What’s more, the drivers and teams have to be perfectly in sync. At this season’s first two races we didn’t have that crucial bit of luck on our side. I can’t wait to finally climb the podium for my Project 1 squad.”
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
“I’m really looking forward to the upcoming race. I associate Shanghai with really positive experiences, especially after our victory there last season. In 2018, we saw how much the weather can affect racing. The forecast for this race weekend shows that we have to be prepared for everything again this year. I’m positive that our Porsche 911 RSR can be at the very front regardless of the weather.”
Encore. Encore. Porsche Customer Teams Use IMSA Sebring Event to Test.
Two Porsche customer race teams will take advantage of the IMSA Michelin Encore at Sebring on November 10 to turn competition laps outside of the heat of the championship season. Black Swan Racing will utilize the four-hour endurance race to reacquaint the Tim Papas (Boston, Massachusetts)-owned program with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The longtime Porsche-entrant has not entered its 911 GT3 R in the GTD class since the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January 2019. He will share the No. 54 with Marc Miller (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia). Wright Motorsports, which campaigned the full SRO GT World Challenge America championship with two Porsche 911 GT3 R this season, also makes its WeatherTech Championship return at Sebring International Raceway. While preparing multiple Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, the John Wright-owned operation last competed in the WeatherTech Championship’s GTD class in fall of 2018. Recently announced driver Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) will join a regular in Wright’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama program, Max Root (San Diego, California), and Jan Heylen (Clearwater, Florida) in the No. 16 Porsche.
For the second consecutive year, the non-points paying event will be held on the 3.74-mile, 17-turn track to provide customer programs an opportunity to race without the faster, high-speed prototype and GTLM classes. The two-day event will offer teams and drivers multiple practice sessions on Friday, November 9 before qualifying and racing on Saturday, November 10. Series’ regulations for the event prevent prototypes from either the DPi for LMP2 classes or the GTLM class factory machines – like the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Team Championship-winning Porsche GT Team and its 911 RSR – from entering. This allows the GT3-spec machines, including the Porsche 911 GT3 R, to contend for overall race victory for the only time.
The Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring can viewed live on IMSA.TV beginning at 12:05 p.m. ET, November 10.
Mister Le Mans. Porsche Motorsport Master Celebrates 80th Birthday.
For decades, few names have been more closely associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans than that of Porsche racing engineer Norbert Singer. Of the 19 overall Porsche victories at the French motorsport classic since 1970, 16 have involved Singer’s direct involvement. “Mister Le Mans” played an instrumental role with both the factory “works” and customer racing teams at Le Mans with the now legendary racing sports cars of types 917, 935, 936, 956, 962 C, WSC Spyder and 911 GT1 98 between 1970 and 1998. Until his retirement in 2004, the master engineer was also project manager for most Porsche race cars. As head of Works Sports and Operations, Singer was also responsible for strategic and tactical decisions on race-day. Singer will celebrate his 80th birthday on November 16.
Norbert Singer was born in 1939 in Eger in the Sudetenland, which is now the town of Cheb in the Czech Republic. Just a few days before the end of World War II, a German military truck ran his mother over, causing her to lose one leg and left her with lifelong injuries to the other. At the end of the war, the family had to leave their home and moved to Würzburg. His father, Hans, worked for a company that bred and sold seeds. He sometimes worked at home and was responsible for developing and distributing particularly high-yield cereals. “My mother Otty worked in his office and ran the home. When I was home, I could help a bit,” says Singer, remembering his childhood days.
The choice between aerospace and automotive engineering
After completing his high school final exams, Norbert Singer began studying mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich. His strengths were in math and physics and his main interest was aerospace. “I was particularly interested in rocket science, so I joined the German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics while I was still at school. After a two-year foundation course in mechanical engineering, I signed up for automotive engineering but took the opportunity to go to lectures for the newly created aerospace degree. Obviously that didn’t leave me with a lot of free time,” says Norbert Singer, recalling his student days. In the mid-1960s, he heard lectures by pioneering German rocket scientist Professor Hermann Oberth and by Wernher von Braun, who gave presentations on NASA’s Apollo program. In 1969, Norbert Singer completed his studies, graduating with degrees in both aerospace engineering and automotive engineering.
Vehicle dynamics expert Hans-Hermann Braess, an employee at the Institute for Automotive Engineering at the Technical University of Munich, gave Singer the crucial advice to dedicate his career to automotive engineering rather than aerospace engineering. He told him, “You have the wrong passport for a career in aerospace. You need to be American or French for that. They invest a lot of money in aerospace there, but in Germany the government provides very little funds for aerospace, and if that funding were stopped you’d be left without a job. As a German, you would do better going into the automotive industry, as we have fine companies like Mercedes, Opel, VW, Ford and BMW that can give you a career.”
“My father saw it the same way. He and my mother had supported me up to that point, but now he wanted to retire and see me in a good career. When Hans-Hermann Braess had an enquiry land on his desk from Porsche looking for a young engineer for their racing department in Zuffenhausen, he responded saying, “Yes, we’ve got just the man for the job,” Singer continues.
Norbert Singer already had a great affinity for motorsports at this point and spent several weekends visiting various motor races. “My biggest hobby was and still is photography. I was at the Nürburgring, but the cars would only go past eleven times on the 14.17-mile (22.8-kilometer) track at the Grand Prix. Monaco was much better, and I was able to get much closer to the track, too. I liked Monza a lot as well, especially since I could drive on the race track there for half an hour in my Opel Kadett for just 5 Deutschmarks,” he says.
Joining the Porsche racing department in March 1970
Although Norbert Singer also had an offer on the table from Opel at this point – including the possibility of being able to work in America too – he decided to apply for the position at Porsche. “The thought of being able to work in a racing department was simply much more interesting,” he confesses. In February 1970, the young engineer subsequently got an interview with Peter Falk, head of pre-series production, race car development testing and test manager in series development. “The interview with Peter Falk went well. When he asked me when I could start, I told him ‘preferably in April’, because I still had some holiday I wanted to take. But the racing season had already begun, and the two races at Daytona and Sebring were then followed by the European season, so I had to start on 1st March, as otherwise no-one would have had time to give me my introductory training,” remembers Norbert Singer. Initially, he took lodgings in a furnished room in Leonburg, not far from Zuffenhausen, and travelled home to Würzburg on his weekends off “to help a little here and there”.
The racing department was housed in Plant 1 in Zuffenhausen in a building section with the so-called “express train”, similar to a railway carriage with compartments. “There were four of us in an office, and from there we could see the large racing workshop where the race cars were built and serviced. At that time there were more than 200 people working there. Mechanics, engineers, constructors,” says Norbert Singer as he remembers his early days at Porsche.
One of the first tasks: transmission cooling for the 917
Singer’s first responsibilities were on the Porsche 917. “In the beginning I had to work on the fuel supply from the 31.7 gallon (120 liter) tank, and then I had to devote myself to transmission cooling. “Ferdinand Piëch rejected the idea of an external oil cooler, as that would have meant too big an opening in the body, and an additional pump would have cost more in performance too. He demanded a simple solution. Finally, I developed a solution that was good aerodynamically, with two small NACA inlets on the rear section, large air ducts and attractive outlets to the left and right of the transmission,” explains Norbert Singer. The transmission cooling proved how well it worked at Le Mans. Not a single 917 had transmission cooling problems and the long-awaited first overall victories came in 1970 with 24 Hour wins at Daytona with Pedro Rodriguez, Leo Kinnunen and Brian Redman, and then with Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood at Le Mans.
Aerodynamic development as one of the main jobs
In the period that followed, there was a great deal of aerodynamic development on the agenda for Norbert Singer with the 917. “One of my jobs involved the short tail at the beginning. We needed to reduce drag on the one hand and improve downforce at the same time. Time and again, we developed new versions, carried out testing in the wind tunnel at Stuttgart University and finally did testing in Hockenheim. There we were able to use measuring equipment to see how the car behaved on the race track and whether my results from the work in the wind tunnel proved correct,” remembers Singer. He had already been widely accepted in the Porsche racing department during this short period. He was also involved in optimizing the 917 long tail. The turbocharged 917/10 and 917/30 benefited from Singer’s aerodynamic expertise too, where downforce was the most important factor for the sharp-cornered tracks in the United States.
From 911 Carrera RSR to Group C
In the 32 years that followed, Singer was responsible for a great many outstanding Porsche racing cars. For example, he took over the 911 Carrera RSR prototype project at the end of 1972, followed by the next stage of development in 1974 with the 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1, which then used the turbo technology successfully introduced in the 917/10 and 917/30 and ultimately led to the 935 in 1976. “In 1977, we optimized the airflow with a higher rear end. Since the standard rear window had to be kept to comply with regulations, we constructed another rear window above it, making for much better aerodynamics,” says Singer as he explains the clever interpretation of the Group 5 rules at the time. One clever and systematic interpretation of the regulations that was amended for 1978 ultimately resulted in the famous 935/78 “Moby Dick”, which was reinforced with a tubular frame.
Following numerous successes with the 935 and the 936, perhaps the greatest technical milestone in Singer’s career came with the introduction of the Group C Regulations in 1982. In the development of the 956, he once again proved his tremendous expertise in the field of aerodynamics and provided the vehicle with exceptional ground effects and thus extremely effective road holding characteristics thanks in large part to a special underbody design with air ducts and the legendary “Singer dent” in the front splitter. The 956 and 962 C won no fewer than five Drivers’, three Makes’ and two Team World Championships between 1982 and 1986. They also achieved seven overall victories at Le Mans.
The spirit of Le Mans for an exceptional track record
Singer celebrated the last overall victory of his active career at Le Mans in 1998, where the two works Porsche 911 GT1 cars, equipped with a carbon fiber monocoque, celebrated a one-two finish.
Singer’s vehicles also earned more than a dozen titles in the American IMSA and Can-Am series. Working closely with Mark Donohue and Team Penske from opposite sides of the Atlantic, Singer turned Weissach’s attention to the Canadian-American Can-Am Series, winning races and championships first with the 917/10 in 1972 and then the 1,100+ horsepower 917/30 in 1973.
Porsche provided two 911 RSR sports cars for the 1973 24 Hours of Daytona, despite being far behind in horsepower to the other prototypes of the day. Team Penske entered one, while Brumos Racing fielded the other. With Singer in pit lane, the No. 59 Brumos 911 RSR won the race, and followed up with a second Brumos 911 RSR win at the 12 Hours of Sebring two months later.
After the Can-Am rules were rewritten to limit the 917/30’s effectiveness in 1974, Singer and Team Penske, with Donohue at the wheel, set the closed course speed record at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama at 221.121 mph (355.86 kph).
In 2003, Norbert Singer was presented with the “Spirit of Le Mans” award by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) for his services to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and for his unique successes in the endurance classic, together with Formula 1 Champion and three-time Le Mans winner Phil Hill, with ACO president Michel Cosson presenting the award. This high accolade has been awarded every year beginning in 2001, with Ferdinand Piëch, Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell being among the winners in previous years.
In demand for advice and discussions to this day
In 2004, Singer retired but continued to work for several more years as an advisor for Porsche customer motorsport until 2010. His expert knowledge continued to be of great value, especially when it came to restoring racing cars for the Porsche Museum. Recent cases include the first 917 with the chassis number 917 001 or the 956 with the chassis number 956 005. Singer has been giving lectures at the university in Esslingen since 2006. In 2018, he was awarded the golden badge of honor by the university for his commitment and success in teaching at the school of automotive engineering.
Thoughts of those who worked and raced with Singer.
“We were a team and Norbert Singer was always a very good team member. He was not only an aerodynamics expert, but also a designer and an excellent race engineer. He always had a good influence in the pit with his quiet manner.”
“Often, the cars or the conditions weren’t perfect, and then Norbert Singer would say softly: “Everything’s okay”. This calm statement was then considered fact.”
“When I think of Norbert Singer, three things come to mind: admiration, respect and gratitude. Admiration for the great engineer, respect for the brilliant human being and gratitude for the wonderful moments shared between him and his team.”
“Norbert Singer gave Porsche racing vehicles the ingredients that made them winners. He shared his deep understanding of the way race cars behave with the drivers, and if you told Norbert about a problem, you could be certain that it would be solved before it went onto the starting grid.”
“I’ve had the honor to work with Norbert on several occasions including the 2005 speed record runs in the Carrera GT. His abilities are beyond question but what strikes me the most is his humility combined with the confidence that comes with experience. He was always evaluating ideas based on merit not emotion. It blew me away when he called me just hours after the 2009 Rolex 24 to congratulate the whole Brumos team because he had already evaluated that each driver’s green lap average was within 0.3 of a second of each other. So that’s what he does for fun!”
“Norbert Singer was without a doubt the leading character. He is a very charismatic figure, but in a very modest, quiet way. Everyone recognized that, and it is something few people have.”
“Norbert Singer was the first engineer I met who entered all the data on a laptop and studied it again in bed at night. Norbert was always a perfectionist. He never stopped thinking about the race, not even at night.”
“Whatever car Norbert Singer engineered or constructed for endurance races, the drivers knew from the beginning of the warm-up that they had an exceptional car for the whole race, with the best person in the pit to advise them. He is a true master of technology and strategy and an exceptional friend.”
Creative Spirit. Porsche Congratulates Engineering Legend Mezger on Milestone Birthday.
Hans Mezger has been responsible for some of the most successful Porsche race cars and engines for more than three decades. On November 18, 2019, the legendary engineer for Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG turns 90.
When the subject turns to outstanding designers of both race cars and racing engines, not many names come up. However, one is always among them – and for many fans and experts, his name is at the top: Hans Mezger. His legendary portfolio includes designing the Porsche 911's air-cooled, six-cylinder boxer engine, overall designer in charge of the 917 and its Flat-12 cylinder engine with a 180-degree bank angle, and the arrangement of two connecting rods on one crankpin, as is typical of V engines. Mezger is also the creator of the TAG Turbo Formula One engine.
Interest in art and technology from an early age
Hans Mezger was born on November 18, 1929 in Ottmarsheim, a small village near Ludwigsburg on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany. The youngest of five children, his parents ran a country inn. Art and culture were very important to the Mezger household. "Almost everyone in our family had a talent for painting and played a musical instrument. Life in the country was exciting for me. I was interested in becoming all kinds of things, from a musician to a physicist,” reminisces Hans Mezger about his youth. From an early age, airplanes and flying fascinated the young Hans. He occasionally undertook a trip to Kirchheim/Teck with a group of gliding enthusiasts from his neighborhood, where he would watch the bungee launches of the school’s glider, an SG-38, with fascination. “I really wanted to fly myself, but I was still too young then,” he explains.
In the middle of his carefree childhood and adolescence, and while at grammar school, the Third Reich and World War II emerged. On April 18, 1945, just three weeks before the end of the war, the 15-year-old Hans Mezger only escaped enlistment by a stroke of luck and a faked medical certificate from a German commander. Eventually, Mezger continued his grammar school studies in Besigheim through the 6th grade, followed by German A-levels in Ludwigsburg. "In 1946, I experienced my very first car race. It was at Hockenheim where old pre-war race cars lined up, along with Hans Stuck, whom I photographed with my old camera," Mezger describes his first motorsport experience immediately after the World War II.
Mechanical engineering degree, motor scooter and jazz music
Since the surrender terms of World War II banned the design, construction and operation of aircraft in 1945 – gliding was only possible in 1951 and motorized flight began again in 1955 – an aeronautics career was out of the question for the aviation enthusiast. “That would have meant waiting too long. So I decided to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University, now the University of Stuttgart,” recalls Mezger, who always found mathematics particularly easy.
At the time, universities gave preferential treatment for admission to young men who had returned from the war, which led to overcrowding. Hans Mezger used the university requirement for a twelve-month internship to practice numerous trades such as machining, welding, model making and a few weeks in the grey cast iron and aluminum foundry. "At that time I was riding a motor scooter, an NSU Lambretta. Apart from my brother’s 250 cc DKW, it was my first and last motorized two-wheeler. I rode the Lambretta until 1960, when I bought my first car, an old, worn-out 356. It was not until years later that I came into contact with motorized two-wheelers again, when in the late 1970s it became necessary to develop new motorcycle engines for Harley-Davidson," Mezger continues.
"During my time as a student, I wanted to improve my English further and so I listened to AFN, the American station for soldiers. I discovered jazz music and then also visited the first jazz clubs," he recalls. "My favorite composer is George Gershwin, whom I appreciate equally for his music and his piano artistry. In my youth, I took piano lessons from a music professor," says Mezger, pointing to the harmonium (pump organ) in his office, which he had bought at a flea market for less than 100 German marks. "You have to produce the air yourself using the pedals, but it can be struck faster than conventional models. That's why it's ideal even for fast jazz pieces," says the Porsche designer, explaining the technology behind the instrument. Mezger and technology itself are equally well suited to each other. They are practically inseparable, in terms of a musical instrument and certainly when it comes to Porsche race cars and their engines.
He joined Porsche on October 1, 1956 in the calculation department.
After graduating in 1956, there was a veritable flood of job offers. “There were 28. But Porsche was not among them. I wanted to join Porsche because the Type 356 sports car inspired me. So I applied, got an interview, and the company offered me a job in diesel engine development. Until then, I did not even know that Porsche had such a thing. But I envisioned working on sports cars. They showed understanding and that's how I started in the calculations department at Porsche," says Mezger about his beginning at the Zuffenhausen sports car manufacturer. A little later in 1958, Mezger and his wife Helga, with whom he still lives happily today, got married. This was followed by the move to their first flat together in Ludwigsburg and, shortly afterwards, their two children, Daniela and Oliver.
Things then began happening one after the other. Mezger gained his first experience with the four-camshaft Type 547 engine, developed a formula for calculating cam profiles and became part of Porsche's first Formula 1 project in 1960. He was involved in the development of the 1.5-liter eight-cylinder Type 753 powerplant as well as the corresponding chassis of the 804. “On this Formula 1 project I also learned a lot about the design of combustion chambers. This also directly benefited the design of the six-cylinder boxer engine for the later 901/911. Ferry Porsche, with his visionary leadership of the company, his human qualities, dignity and great dedication, became my role model. I wholeheartedly shared his philosophy of racing in order to build the best sports car for the road, was impressive and had a lasting impact on myself and my work during the entire period I spent at the company," he reports from that early era at Porsche.
Family atmosphere in the still small Porsche company
Porsche noticed his creativity and artistic talent, even beyond any design tasks. Porsche was still a very small company with a strong family atmosphere, in which social interaction could flourish. For example, the company held a traditional Christmas party for the employees' children in the canteen of Plant 2, where Ferry Porsche's wife Dorothea always personally distributed gifts. "For the adults, the designers' ball was an annual highlight. I had barely joined the company when I was asked to organize this carnival event. It was always very nice, sometimes of course marked by funny jokes between us constructors and the experimentalists, who were of course also invited," recalls Mezger of the event, for which he even designed his own posters.
Artistic creativity, skill and creative power run like a common thread through Hans Mezger's life. Photography and painting still fascinate him, especially Impressionism. It is not surprising that some of these works adorn the walls of his house – including some of his very own paintings. “When I had more free time, I used to paint pictures myself, usually with oil pastels,” explains Mezger, pointing to a townscape of Ottmarsheim in the winter.
Design of the 911 engine and head of "Race car design"
His career included designing the world-famous “Mezger engine” for the Porsche 901 and 911 road cars in the early 1960s. In 1965, Mezger was promoted to head of the department for race car design, initiated by Ferdinand Piëch. This department was the key to a new quality and dynamism in motorsport for Porsche. “It was an exciting, fascinating time in the mid-1960s. Sometimes we also worked around the clock – like in 1965 when we created the Ollon-Villars Bergspyder in just 24 days and shortly thereafter the 910.” With the construction of a tubular frame, fiberglass body and design for new Formula 1 tire technology, it became the blueprint for all the race cars that were built in the years to follow.
From the 917 to the TAG turbo for Formula 1
Porsche also relied on this design principle for the development of the 917 racing prototype in 1968. With the 917, the first overall victory for Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was now finally possible. Once again, Ferdinand Piëch relied on the skillfulness of Hans Mezger, who was responsible for the overall construction of the vehicle and its 12-cylinder engine. The 917 conquered Le Mans and the World Sportscar Championship in 1970 and 1971. In the beginning of 1972 and 1973, the 917/10 and 917/30 Spyders continued the championship run, even on the curvy stretches of the Can-Am series, thanks to updated exhaust turbocharging technology developed by Porsche. For the first time, turbocharging proved responsive enough for racing cars and series-production vehicles to be used on both race tracks and public roads. That technology is what made Porsche a pioneer in this field, something that continues to this day.
In 1974, Mezger and his team brought the new machinery to series production in the form of the 911 Turbo. Many other victorious developments would follow, including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Sportscar Championship and in North American Indy car racing.
An unexpected but outstanding project took off in 1981 when Ron Dennis and his McLaren racing team set out in search of a powerful turbo engine for Formula 1. In the end, Dennis chose Porsche. Both made the decision to design and build a completely new engine, as well as have Porsche provide on-site support during the races. Again, Hans Mezger was the creative mastermind behind the 1.5-liter, V6 engine with an 80-degree bank angle, which would later produce more than 1000 PS. Niki Lauda became world driving champion with the engine in 1984 and 1985, followed by Alain Prost in 1986. The TAG Turbo won a total of 25 races, plus the Constructors' World Championships in 1984 and 1985. "This was a resounding success and also the most significant development contract for Porsche from an external company," adds Hans Mezger.
Strong coffee and Wendelin the tomcat
His loyalty to, and solidarity with, Porsche are as pronounced today as they were 50 or 60 years ago. Mezger continues to be available to journalists, technicians and interested fans for a good discussion – preferably over a good cup of coffee at the Porsche Museum. It is a sure way to win Hans Mezger over for a chat. "You know, when I sat together with Peter Falk at Le Mans several times through the night while timekeeping, a good, strong coffee was the most important thing. First, not to nod off and second, to warm up a bit, as it could sometimes be quite cold," says the Porsche designer. Laughing, he adds, "What always bothered me, however, was that the cup was either too hot to hold or that the coffee was only lukewarm. At some point, when I was sitting at my desk again at home at night, I designed a double-walled coffee cup with good insulation. However, the design remained but a sketch because my real work was obviously quite different."
Even today, Hans Mezger sometimes works late into the night at his desk. "In my active time, our pet tomcat Wendelin kept me company. We had named him after Wendelin Wiedeking, then Chairman of the Board of Management. He always lay on the windowsill and when he thought that I had done enough work and should now devote myself to him, he always lay across my working papers and I would give in," says Hans Mezger with a smile.
Closely connected to Porsche to this day
His commitment to Porsche has made him reject all offers from other manufacturers throughout his career. He still owns his 911 Carrera 3.0 in Grand Prix white – a coveted Porsche classic that has "his" engine. In closing, he also has a special story to tell about his 911: "It was built in 1977, but the vehicle registration certificate states 1979 as the date of first registration. At Porsche, it was driven with a red license plate for two years. But when I took it over in 1979, the vehicle registration authority in Ludwigsburg did not want to accept the actual year of construction despite a Porsche certificate. On paper, it is two years younger than it actually is. It is a genuine Porsche classic, in its original condition, which I drive with as much enthusiasm today as I did then, in addition to my current 911 Carrera S Type 992."
Career and Highlights at Porsche. Hans Mezger.
1956–1960 Technical calculation department in the design department.
Responsible for valve control of all engines, among other things.
1960–1962 Move to the Porsche Formula 1 project team.
Collaboration in engine and chassis design.
1963 Design of the 901/911 six-cylinder engine.
Responsible for design and further development of all racing engines.
1965 Design and project management of the Ollon-Villars Spyder.
Management of the newly established department for race car design.
1966–1970 Design of the 910, 907, 908, 917, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine for the 914 production sports car.
1971–1973 Can-Am race cars 917/10 and 917/30 with turbocharging.
1974–1976 Design, development and further development of six-cylinder turbo engines and the Type 935 and 936 race cars.
1977–1978 Development of the water cooling and four-valve concept for the Type 935 and 936 six-cylinder turbo engines.
1977–1980 Design of the Twin Cam “Evolution” engine for Harley-Davidson. Development of the Indy engine based on the Type 935/936. Further development of the 935/936 race cars and engines.
1981–1982 Development of a 2.65-liter engine based on the 935/936 for Group C (956/962).
1981–1987 Design, overall project management and further development of the "TAG-Turbo – made by Porsche" Formula 1 engine.
1987–1988 Design of the Type 2708 Indy car 2.65-liter engine.
1990 Design of the Type 3512 12-cylinder Formula 1 engine
Honors and awards.
1974 The Starley Premium Award (Great Britain) for the best automotive presentation of the year on the Porsche Type 917.
1984 Behind the Scenes Award (USA) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 Trofeo Colin Chapman (Italy) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 Prince Metternich Prize (Germany) for outstanding technical achievements in motorsport.
1984 Trophée de L'Exploit (France) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
1984 Caschi d'Oro (Italy) for winning the Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship (presented to McLaren).
1985 Prof. Ferdinand-Porsche Award (Austria) of the technical university Vienna in recognition for the accomplishment of developing the combustion engine. Hans Mezger is still the only person from the Porsche company to have won this award.
1987 Médaille Spéciale (France) for the development of the TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine.
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