Porsche in America: three key figures
None of this story would have been possible without the talents and ambition of Maximilian Edwin Hoffman, born in 1904 just outside of Vienna. The outbreak of WWII saw Max living and working (very successfully) in Paris, but as the hostilities increased he moved to New York in June 1941. His empire began with making costume jewelry, but when the war ended he saw the potential for bringing European cars to the US, setting up the Hoffmann Motor Company in 1947. His first coup was importing Jaguars, but he’d be linked to a whole host of marques over the years, including Mercedes-benz, BMW and Porsche, of course. An influential operator, one of his real skills lay in being able to persuade car companies to produce unique models (like the Speedster) knowing he could sell them.
The CEO of Porsche AG from 1981 to 1987, Schutz is someone that needs little introduction within these pages. The first American to head the company – having been invited to apply by Ferry himself – his impact on the firm’s fortunes was legendary in more ways than one. Firstly, he saved the 911 from extinction, famously spotting the end of the development line on a chart and taking it upon himself to extend it off the page and across the wall. But, just as importantly, he listened to the concerns of Porsche’s US dealer network, acting on their complaints about quality and doing much to improve both reputation and reliability. And, if that wasn’t enough, he was instrumental in bringing the 911 Cabriolet to the US, not to mention championing the cause of the 959 supercar.
The quintessential all-american racing hero, Penske was a decent driver in his own right. His career behind the wheel had begun back in 1958, but he’s best known for his exploits as a team owner, the story of Penske Racing inextricably linked with Porsche’s motorsport successes in the US. The 1960s saw Penske team up with legendary driver Mark Donohue, and the pair would go on to help Porsche with development of the fearsome 917 Can-am car. When Weissach wanted to return to racing in 2005 it was to Penske they turned, his experienced team entering the RS Spyder in the LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series. It’s no surprise that victories quickly followed, with wins at Petit Le Mans and Sebring, and the team would secure ALMS LMP2 titles in 2006, 2007, and 2008.