East of Salzburg, Austria, is a mountain called the Gaisberg that is a legend in European racing. With a hillclimb racing history that goes back into the 1920s, it was the site of Porsche’s first European Hillclimb championship in 1959, when von Tripps’ RSK was the first to the top of the mountain. Mitter later won there in Porsche’s one-off Ollon-Villars spyder, and Stommelen set the course record in 1967 with a 910 Bergspyder—all important parts of Porsche’s racing history.
In 2008, a tiny group of journalists were there with a selection of historic Porsches, part of the company’s anniversary celebration, and were joined by the perfect Porsche representative, Herbert Linge. Eighty years old at that time, this affable and articulate man knows what there is to know about Porsche. He had started as an apprentice with the Porsche Design Bureau when he was 14, and remembered the old Professor Ferdinand Porsche well and with affection. After the war, Linge was the first hire of Porsche when it returned to Stuttgart in 1949. As a mechanic, he spent considerable time in the US as a service representative for Porsche, and back in Germany later he rose to the head of the experimental shops, with 900 mechanics under his supervision. A long-term resident of Weissach, it was he who showed the area near that now-famous town to Ferry Porsche as a prospective location for the company racing center.
Linge was a driver, too. Following a highly successful stint as a navigator with wins at the Mille Miglia, the Liège-Rome-Liège, and the Tour de France, he drove the Monte Carlo with race engineer Peter Falk in a basically stock 1965 911 producing an excellent finish for the brand new Porsche. He became the racing department’s primary test driver, and drove them all, Spyders through 917s. He raced at the Targa Florio multiple times, and almost won in a 904 (second to a private 904 entry; the factory didn’t want to beat their own customers); scored an amazing sixth overall at Daytona in a two-liter 906; was to start Le Mans in the 917 that killed John Wolfe when Wolfe insisted on starting instead. He even did the driving for Steve McQueen in the making of the movie Le Mans.
The image this time shows Linge on the Gaisberg during the 60 year celebration trip, in a Carrera GTL (Abarth Carrera), the same car in which he scored a class win at the 1962 Targa Florio, 46 years before. Clearly, he hadn’t lost his touch. It was overall a great Porsche day spent with a great man and a great car at a hugely historical site; you can’t have too many of those.