Stuttgart. Today, on June 11, 2008, Herbert Linge, former works
racing driver and plant manager of the Development Center of
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, is celebrating his eightieth birthday. This man of many talents personally experienced and took part in shaping the development of the Porsche enterprise over the past six decades.
The unique career of this primeval ‘feature’ of the Porsche landscape began on April 1, 1943, when he joined Porsche KG as a fifteen-year-old. After the War, Linge returned to Porsche in 1949 and participated in the production of the first Porsche 356 to be built in Stuttgart. In 1952 Ferry Porsche sent him to North America, where he made a decisive contribution to building up Porsche’s customer service abroad.
Herbert Linge (left) and Ferdinand Porsche, 1949
Returning to Germany in 1956, Herbert Linge went to the start as a racing driver for the Porsche Works Team – in addition to his work in the testing and development department. Over a period of 20 years he gained many racing successes. Altogether he has an amazing total of 90 class victories and six international records to his name.
Herbert Linge not only wrote racing history, however – he also wrote cinema history. When a double was required for actor Steve McQueen in the film “Le Mans” in 1970, he started in the 24 Hours in a Porsche 908 that had been adapted to house a cine camera. As the fastest camera-
man in the world, his breathtaking inboard shots ensured cult status for the Porsche brand on the cinema screen, too.
At the age of 42 Herbert Linge ended his career as a racing driver and changed to the Porsche Development Center in Weissach, newly created at that time, where he worked as Plant Manager till the end of his professional career. Linge had in fact made a decisive contribution to the planning and conception of the Development Center right from the start. When Porsche was looking for a site to build a test circuit at the end of the 1950s and Ferry Porsche categorically refused to concrete over fertile farmland, Herbert Linge introduced the idea of his home town, Weissach. With his remark: “Nothing grows there except sloes” he was able to convince the Porsche Head, and building began in 1961.
As well as his demanding occupation as Plant Manager of the Porsche Development Center, Herbert Linge committed himself in a special way to safety in motorsport. From his long years of experience as a racing driver, he was well acquainted with its dangers. Thus in 1972 he founded the Sicherheitsstaffel (safety team) of the ONS (Germany’s National Motorsport Commission, predecessor of the DMSB.)
Even after his retirement, from 1987 onwards Linge was still to be found at racing circuits all around the world. Until 1990, the native of Weissach headed the ONS safety team, and in 1993 he took charge of the Porsche brand’s racing series, the Porsche Carrera Cup. To this day Herbert Linge is linked with Porsche: his name is always to be found on the list of participants in historic motorsport events where, as the driver of classic Porsche models such as the 356, the 550 Spyder or the 718, he fires the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators time and again.
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