Weissach Development Centre: The Track of Legends

The story of a lane during Weissach starts some-more than 60 years ago. With a autobahn apropos too slight for a needs, and a Volkswagen exam lane in Wolfsburg being too distant away, Porsche had been regulating Malmsheim Airfield for contrast – though usually as a stopgap. Herbert Linge, an worker of Porsche as good as a reputable racing and convene driver, suggested a resolution could be found between a villages of Flacht and Weissach, where he lived. A record from 1910 described a land that Linge due as “… remarkably alpine and rocky, though not really fruitful and really formidable to cultivate”. Ferry Porsche favourite a idea, and in Nov 1959, Porsche acquired many of a roughly 38-hectare site. Nearly dual years later, on 16 Oct 1961, Ferry Porsche incited adult to a groundbreaking rite in a bulldozer.

Swabian craftsmanship: Roland Bemsel (left) and Werner Kühnle build a 935 in a seminar in 1977. Glamorous it isn’t, though a outcome is world-beating

A round exam lane was built and shortly became a iota of a Development Centre. The skidpad offering 3 marks with middle diameters of 40, 60 and 190 metres. As of 15 Oct 1962, it was here that exam operative Peter Falk, Linge and their colleagues gathering a early 901 right adult to a reason extent and beyond. The concentration was on elementary framework set-up, aerodynamics and continuation tests. One of a initial racing cars on a circle, as Herbert Linge associated in Nov 2019, was a Porsche 804 Formula One, while a initial building to be assembled there was a skidpad hut, that housed essential equipment.

The initial chairman to strictly work for a sports automobile manufacturer during a Weissach site was Robert Schüle, who juggled a purpose with his work herding sheep and regulating a Zum Hirsch restaurant. Schüle was on palm when tests were being set adult and wound down, and valid to be many some-more than usually a hutkeeper.

Woollen threads instead of high-tech methods: Porsche also conducted aerodynamic tests on a skidpad. A 908 long-tail Coupé before to testing, c. 1968

In 1969, a 917 finished 258 laps of a circuit, interlude usually once to refuel. It valid to a engineers that a new racer’s round orientation would hold. The skidpad was also a ultimate decider when it came to final a practicable together acceleration. As a record laps on a 190-metre circuit began racking up, Helmuth Bott – who assimilated Porsche in 1952 as an operations assistant, before rising to a position of conduct of contrast and development, and afterwards finally to conduct of growth in 1978 – began gripping a list in his office. The fastest motorist on it was Willi Kauhsen, who had hold a record given 1972 with a 850 PS 917/10.

April 1972: a exam lane seen from a air. In a forehead is a north hook (1). The quick Can-Am circuit reduces a longer, some-more bony sections of a towering circuit, that start in front of indicate 3 and during indicate 7

With a attainment of a insubordinate 956 – a automobile with that Porsche began competing in a World Sportscar Championship in 1982 – Bott was penetrating to find out if a automobile was quicker than a 917 given of a aerodynamics. The dual cars weighed a same though a 917 had 200 PS some-more energy during a disposal, and sat on wider tyres than a 956. As plan manager, Norbert Singer set about regulating a Weissach comforts to find a answer for his boss. Despite racing motorist Stefan Bellof being Porsche’s fastest man, Singer summoned exam operative Falk to a cockpit – suspecting that he’d uncover some-more integrity when conducting a experiment.

“The construction vehicles were still there when we initial set out on a new track. You would call that off-road nowadays.”
Herbert Linge

Falk ranked as a skidpad champion, holding a record with a 908 and 917, and when he strapped himself into a 956 on 30 Apr 1984, a stopwatches purebred a record time of 14.4 seconds. Falk after distributed that this alike to an normal speed of 150.576 km/h and a together acceleration of 1.858 g with a round diameter, on that a centre of sobriety of a 956 drove, of 192 metres (only racer engineers give answers like this). The record still stands today, and will expected never be beaten: as Singer explains, complicated racing tyres capacitate aloft together accelerations for a few seconds, though would substantially not withstand 14 seconds during that limit.

This is where legends found their feet. Including a 917. Rolf Stommelen gets prepared for a exam drive

A pushing force behind developments during Weissach given early 1960, Bott remained sexually committed to a site until his retirement in 1988. In 1966, he consecrated a operative Jochen Freund to lay a exam lane on a site. Bott had a substantial contend with courtesy to a blueprint and their sum imagination resulted in a 2.88 km prolonged towering circuit. “The construction vehicles were still there when we initial set out on a new track. You would call that off-road nowadays,” says Herbert Linge. The towering circuit is driven in a clockwise direction. Peter Falk describes a lap: “The north hook is a quick right turn. The automobile had to be changed over immediately during a likewise high speed for a following left kink when entrance out of a hook on a downhill section. This quick left spin shortly came to be famous as a ‘master turn’. It led into a brief straight, that afterwards assimilated onto a right bend, a ‘old courtyard’, heading to a exit.

Think tank for a mobility

The Development Centre’s success story began on 1 October, 1971 with a relocation of a growth and pattern departments from Zuffenhausen to Weissach.

“After a brief loyal of around 170 metres came a ‘Z slope’. You arrived during this high ascending right-left multiple during a high speed. Early ABS systems tended to destroy here; a sudden change of instruction and coexisting braking were too many for a elementary sensors. From a ‘Z slope’, a lane continued to stand by a fastest turn, a ‘path’. Then came a ‘Bott chicane’. This is a really fast, blind right spin that slopes outwards over a crest. A array of fresh drivers mislaid a automobile there, and even for pros it was a vicious point. We done a box for simplifying a turn, though Helmuth Bott stranded to his guns. The ‘Bott chicane’ has remained to this day. Next there was a 90-degree left kink, afterwards ‘David’s tree’, a pointy right turn. From here, after a brief loyal and dual quick left turns, a lane led to a ‘Flacht peak’, a hairpin turn, and from there along a brief loyal and a left-right multiple to a ‘south bend’. This was a quick right spin that led to a approximately 700-metre-long loyal to a ‘north bend’.

“Between ‘David’s tree’ and a ‘south bend’, a ‘rough road’, that had a rough surface, potholes, a saltwater thoroughfare and other perfectionist conditions, ran together to a smooth, even track. After around half a length of a prolonged straight, a second continuation exam for a array prolongation and racing cars, with holes, bumps and even a burst ledge, again ran together to a normal track.”

16 cylinders, 6.5-litre displacement, 755 PS: a naturally aspirated engine for a 917/10. First a record, afterwards into a museum

The ‘master turn’ owes a name to Herbert Linge: “Shortly after a circuit was completed, we took a aroused spin off a lane in a 356 GT,” he explains. “It’s probable that a automobile had over-braked a bit during a rear. we was not a usually one to fly off a towering circuit. Many others did so after me. In a early days, we would put a pointer adult during that symbol with a name of a driver. But a trainer didn’t like that.”

The racing cars had to withstand thousands of kilometres and more, including a ‘rough roads’ (without a salt bath), before they were launched onto rival racetracks. It was an distress for drivers and cars, that valid to be positively essential. The probability of a attainment during a 12 hours of Sebring in 1969 was mislaid after sleet and afterwards sleet fell in Weissach. The new 908/02 Spyder could not be driven on a quivering exam track, and a lightweight frames pennyless on a petrify slabs of a racetrack in Florida. Even a mythological 917 wasn’t spared a tiresome exam before a entrance during Le Mans in 1969.

A path during IndyCar in 1:13.28 minutes

In his book, a operative Walter Näher annals 732 laps or 2,080 km on a quivering exam track. So many for ‘endurance’. As for speed, it was not a speedster of a 908/03 accumulation on a bony track, though an open-wheel automobile that wrote a essential chapter. On 9 Nov 1988, Roland Kussmaul gathering a path during IndyCar with a Porsche engine and Mar framework in 1:13.28 minutes. Kussmaul explains: “There were dual versions of a Indycar: one for ovals and one for a parsimonious corners of a civic circuits, where we indispensable high automatic grip. We tested these on a towering circuit.” Norbert Singer after commented on one evil of a towering circuit in particular: “Those hairpin turns! They were worse than a automobile park!”

Porsche energy for a McLaren MP4 Formula One. Team principal Ron Dennis (right), competition executive Peter Falk (third from right) and engine engineer Hans Mezger (left) on a lane in 1983. More than a decade earlier, in 1970, Vic Elford was pushing a 908/03 during Weissach

In sequence to be means to expostulate cars like a 917, that primarily had a energy outlay of 580 PS, during high speeds and a good rhythm, a racing dialect indispensable a faster lane from a finish of a 1960s, that Falk designed on interest of Bott. The 2.531 km Can-Am circuit was prepared to use from 1971. Within a aged track, a super-fast right-left territory now lay between a ‘master curve’ and a ‘Z slope’. At a indicate where a aged ‘Z slope’ assimilated a new ultra-fast left bend, a lane led over a design where a automobile carried off dangerously. Even for Head of Development Ferdinand Piëch, this symbol seemed too risky.

Falk recalls: “Regarding this ungainly section, Piëch asked me: ‘What on earth did we get adult to out there?’ He had a design partially removed.” But usually partially, and so a best approach to navigate a ‘Piëch chicane’ during high speed is still with a good understanding of bravery and a clenched behind. The circuitous territory from ‘David’s tree’ over a ‘Flacht peak’ to a loyal was condensed by a Can-Am right bend.

On 6 May 1983, Roland Kussmaul takes a initial laps in a 956 with a TAG Turbo engine

Every complicated racing automobile from Porsche has driven a initial kilometres on a Can-Am circuit. It is where new eras in motorsport have been ushered in with what is famous in racing as a rollout – a impulse when, after many tiresome day and night shifts, a racing automobile is launched. On 30 Jul 1971, a initial Porsche racing automobile with a turbocharger took a initial laps. Behind a round of a 917/10 Spyder, with a 4.5-litre engine and a energy outlay of roughly 850 PS, was Jo Siffert. The turbo epoch during Porsche had begun. On 2 September, a epoch of a naturally aspirated engine in Porsche chosen competition drew to a close. As an experiment, a association had built a 755 PS, 6.5-litre 16-cylinder engine for a 917/10 Spyder, that was really prolonged and, during 320 kilograms, one tenth heavier than a early turbo. With untiring effort, Willi Kauhsen achieved a record path of 51.5 seconds with a engine, before a behemoth was driven into a museum.

The initial fathers of Weissach Helmuth Bott, Herbert Linge, and Formula 1 ace Joakim Bonnier (f. r.)

The American Mark Donohue is entered on one of Norbert Singer’s record lists from that time as a fastest ever motorist of a 917/10 Spyder: 47.2 seconds, achieved in Nov 1972. A defining impulse came on 27 Mar 1982, when a insubordinate belligerent outcome antecedent 956 took a initial laps after usually 9 months of development. The 956 had survived a 1,000 km on a quivering exam lane a before Apr and in Mar 1983, Jacky Ickx became a fastest male ever to expostulate a car, environment a record time of 45.7 seconds. By 1987, a 956 and a successor, a 962C, had achieved 6 victories during Le Mans and 4 in a World Championship for Makes, among others.

On 6 May 1983, Porsche’s Weissach employees and a farmers on a surrounding fields listened carefully: what they listened was a 956, though it sounded really opposite from a common turbo boxer. And indeed it was: a automobile being driven around a Can-Am circuit by Roland Kussmaul was propitious with a code new turbo engine. It was a TAG Turbo done by Porsche: a compress V6 with a 1.5-litre displacement, dual turbochargers and an initial energy outlay of 720 PS, that subsequently rose to adult to 1,040 PS for chasing times during subordinate use before to Formula One races. On 29 June, Irish racing motorist John Watson started a engine for a rollout in a McLaren MP4 Formula One on a Can-Am circuit. Niki Lauda softened a lane record in a McLaren-Porsche to 44.6 seconds in Feb 1984. By a scheduled finish of a partnership between McLaren and Porsche in 1987, a German engine inside a British framework had won 3 World Championships for drivers and dual for constructors.

Stuck roughly reached Lauda’s Formula One record

In Jun 1986, Hans-Joachim Stuck came within 3 tenths of a second of Lauda’s Formula One record in a Porsche 956 propitious with subordinate tyres – an startling attainment that can be accounted for by Stuck’s pushing skill, a really special set of Dunlops, and a mythological aerodynamics of a car. Porsche began building and building a 3.5-litre V12 for a British Arrows Formula One group in 1989. The German racing motorist Bernd Schneider and Italian Michele Alboreto gathering a lightweight 505 kg automobile with 700 PS on a Weissach asphalt, and that was a finish of Lauda’s record. In Oct 1990, Alboreto lapped a circuit in a extensive 41.8 seconds.

A 917/10 Spyder on a lane in 1971, with an unrestricted perspective north towards a Development Centre. Crash barriers were still something of an exception; internal flora supposing a healthy separator on a sideline. That’s how it was behind then

This is a final record on Norbert Singer’s list of best times. A new aspect primarily supposing reduced grip, and a times were hardly allied to a progressing ones. Moreover, Porsche changed divided from Formula One in sequence to concentration entirely on a racing cars and prototypes. Of course, a sequence of successes did not finish there. On 14 Mar 1996 a 911 GT1 96 took a initial laps on a Can-Am circuit as a initial mid-engined 911. Two years later, on 23 Feb 1998, a motorsport group distinguished a rollout of a initial Porsche racing automobile with a CO twine monocoque: a 911 GT1 98, that would go on to turn a Le Mans champion.

The subsequent large launch followed on 2 Nov 1999: Porsche’s Spyder LMP2000, with a newly grown 5.5-litre, 10-cylinder naturally aspirated engine and groundbreaking aerodynamics – that still facilities in prototypes to this day – took a initial laps in a sleet and cold. Ultimately, these were also to be a last, as Porsche withdrew from chosen racing for many years. Financial and tellurian resources were tied adult in a new Cayenne. However, a time and bid invested did not go totally to waste, as a 10-cylinder engine after done a approach into a Carrera GT. This automobile too found a feet in Weissach.

Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo takes record

Alboreto’s record seemed to be set in mill though in 2013 an sparkling new epoch was heralded: Porsche’s lapse to tip motorsport. On 12 June, works motorist Timo Bernhard gathering a initial laps of a antecedent 919 Hybrid. Porsche went on to win a World Endurance Championship and Le Mans in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Then a time came to bid farewell to a champion racer – and in loyal motorsport fashion. For a farewell debate of a many famous racetracks, a Weissach team, led by competition executive Fritz Enzinger, built a 919 Hybrid Evo giveaway from regulatory constraints: with a two-litre turbo engine on a behind spindle and an electric engine on a front axle, generating a sum energy outlay of 1,160 PS, a weight of 849 kg, and 50 per cent some-more downforce than a World Championship car. At a commencement of 2018, a stopwatches purebred 40.625 seconds for Timo Bernhard in a Evo. As for Weissach records, for now it looks like he has a final word.

5:19.55 minutes

Best time on a Nürburgring-Nordschleife: Timo Bernhard beats six-minute symbol with a 919 Hybrid Evo in a “Green Hell”.


Text initial published in a repository „Porsche Klassik 17“.

Author: Wilfried Müller

Photographer: Porsche AG Historical Archive, McKlein Photography

Copyright: The picture and sound published here is copyright by Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Germany or other individuals. It is not to be reproduced unconditionally or in partial though before created accede of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Please hit [email protected] for serve information.