The last and most famous of the Porsche Spyders, the W-RS eventually became known as Großmutter—Grandmother in English—because of its years of racing history. Shown here at Sebring in 1964, it was near the end of its long career, and was again serving, alongside the brand new 904s, as a long-distance racer. In the days when Porsche had taken on the world with its under two-liter engines, it had represented Porsche credibly at many races, including the Targa, Le Mans, the Nürburgring, and now Sebring, its original four-cylinder Carrera engine having been replaced sometime earlier with a Type 771 flat eight. It had been driven, at one time or the other, by the likes of Masten Gregory, Bob Holbert, Dan Gurney, Jo Bonnier, and Graham Hill. But it didn’t just spend its long racing career just on the famous racetracks of the world; Edgar Barth also won the European Hillclimb Championship with it as well!
At least as famous, and having a much longer service history at Porsche, was the driver seen in the image above, Herbert Linge. His time at Porsche began pre-war when he became a 14-year old apprentice at the Porsche Design Bureau under Ferdinand Porsche, the old Professor. After the war, he was the first person hired by the Porsche Company when it began business in Stuttgart; he not only rose to being a test driver and eventually the head of the research workshops at Weissach, but was also an extremely skilled factory racing driver, seeing major action from winning (with Helmut Polensky) the 3000-mile Liege-Rome-Liege Rally in a Gmünd coupe to the beginning of the 917 era at Le Mans. He enjoyed great success in the Monte Carlo Rally (with legendary engineer Peter Falk navigating), as well as at the Targa, Daytona and the Mille Miglia, and even did the actual driving for Steve McQueen for the movie Le Mans. Retiring in 1989 at which time he had 900 mechanics working in the experimental shops, he came back in 1990 to start the Carrera Cup series. He is now retired in Weissach, where he was born, (and, yes, it was he who pointed out the site for Porsche’s now famous research location to Ferry Porsche).
About The Making Of The Image Itself
It was shot with an H3 Pentax; judging from the forced perspective and the fact that the whole car was not included in the image, the lens was probably my 200 mm Komura pre-set (meaning that the lens was focused, the shutter speed and aperture were chosen, but then, before the shutter was pressed, a ring had to be rotated to stop down to the selected F-stop, a troublesome feature which resulted in over-exposed images when the last step was forgotten in the heat of the moment.) The film was early Kodachrome, intolerant of exposure errors and deadly slow, with an ISO speed well south of 100. This was the first of my almost 50 trips to the Sebring 12 hour, and pretty much my first sports car race, so I was pleased to get a credible result. But it took me some years to realize the significance of both the car and its driver.