Classic Porsche


During a fifty-year career working exclusivel­y for Porsche, Gerd Schmid worked exclusivel­y for the company’s racing department and is responsibl­e for establishi­ng the brand’s internatio­nal Cup competitio­ns…

- Words Kieron Fennelly Photograph­y Porsche

Smiling, Gerd Schmid reflects on how lucky he was to be involved with Porsche during five decades of extraordin­ary motorsport success. “Can you imagine that?!” he asks. “I joined Porsche in 1962 and worked almost fifty years on the company’s race and rally cars. It’s unlikely you’d be lucky enough to have a career like mine in this day and age,” says the man who would spend periods in the USA and Far East establishi­ng Porsche Motorsport. Yet, when the eighteen-year-old Schmid began working at Zuffenhaus­en, the attraction was largely Porsche’s reputation as a committed employer.

“People spoke of working for the brand in the context of being part of a large family,” he remembers. He was also happy with the fact Porsche was convenient­ly situated only four stops from his hometown of Ditzingen on the S-bahn railway system.

“I was already a certified auto mechanic. I went directly into the Reparaturw­erkstatt in Werk 1,” he continues, surprising us with the kind of energy and enthusiasm which would be impressive in someone twenty years his junior. He was clearly a competent mechanic — he was deputed to support Dutch nobleman and Porschiste stalwart, Carel Godin de Beaufort, with his outdated 718 at the 1964 Solitude Grand Prix.

A year later, Schmid was promoted to Porsche’s rally and racing division, then under the rule of Fritz Huschke von Hanstein. This was the beginning of the six-year period when the 911 went from a fifthplace finish in the Monte Carlo Rally to winning the event twice and dominating the European rally scene. Indeed, Schmid’s first ‘travelling mechanic’ job was with the Elford-toivonen 911 at the Coupe des Alpes in 1967. The following year, away from rally support, he was despatched to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to assist privately entered 907s and 910s. Also in 1968, Schmid was one of three mechanics who accompanie­d Porsche’s entry in the London-sydney Marathon.

“We had to fly to each stage, meet the works car and service it,” he recalls. “After the car left Europe, things got more complicate­d — we reached the Australian outback, where travel was difficult and locating the car proved extremely problemati­c. For much of the time, we had virtually no idea where we were. It’s not as if there was anyone around to ask.” The event was an expensive undertakin­g for Porsche. “I had to ask Ferry Porsche to personally authorise my travel budget. It came to almost seven thousand marks!”


1970 took Schmid to the 12 Hours of Sebring as mechanic for the famous Mcqueen-revson 908/02, the very car subsequent­ly modified to carry movie cameras and then entered in the year’s daylong enduro at Circuit de la Sarthe in order to capture footage for inclusion in the King of Cool’s epic 1971 motorsport flick, Le Mans. Beforehand, at Sebring, the duo finished in a creditable second place. This would prove Mcqueen’s last race.

Later, Schmid supported Gérard Larrousse’s efforts in the Tour De France. In for the 1972/1974 season, he worked with privateer 917 teams and was involved with the legendary IROC championsh­ip, Roger Penske’s inspired idea for an all-star race series. As outlined elsewhere in this issue of Classic Porsche, on the recommenda­tion of star driver, Mark Donohue, Penske ordered fifteen specially built 911 RSR for the series.

Schmid’s growing experience in the USA didn’t go unnoticed back in Stuttgart, which is why, in 1977, Porsche would move him Stateside full-time with instructio­n to establish Porsche Motorsport in New Jersey. It was as much a commercial management and marketing role as it was a continuati­on of his time served as a hands-on race mechanic.

When returning to Germany a few years later, he supported customer teams racing 934s, 935s and, latterly, 924 GTRS and GTSS. Teams he advised included Brun Motorsport, as well as those operated by Richard Lloyd and John Fitzpatric­k. Schmid also retained his rally connection­s, which proved useful when Porsche’s racing director, Peter Falk, appointed him as customer service manager for the 911 SC RS project, which yielded the successful Rothmans-liveried factory rally cars run by David Richards Autosports.

Porsche’s participat­ion in Group C sports car racing took up much of Schmid’s time in the 1980s. As project manager for private teams running the 956 and 962, he oversaw the assembly and servicing of all 956 and 962 customer cars, as well as the works cars.

“We built the monocoques from aviation grade steel, which we brought in from the USA,” he tells us. “After Porsche stopped making these racing machines, several companies continued building the 962 monocoque.

From what I saw, Fabcon was the most profession­al among them. Put it this way, we examined one of the firm’s monocoques and it was completely to Porsche’s standards. Of course, Kremer Racing made four or five 962 Spyders, but by that point in time, the 962 was quite out of date, certainly as far as we at Porsche were concerned.”

The 956 also gave Schmid his first taste of Japan. In 1983, the All-japan Sports Prototype Championsh­ip — won by the same year’s Le Mans victor, Vern Schuppan, in a 956 — would deliver the first of his more than a hundred trips to the Land of the Rising Sun in support of customer racing teams. As the years went by, these frequent visits to Japan included time spent overseeing Porsche’s involvemen­t in the GT2 and GT3 era.

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 ?? ?? Bottom right Gerd Schmid photograph­ed in front of the Porsche Museum on September 13th 2019
Bottom right Gerd Schmid photograph­ed in front of the Porsche Museum on September 13th 2019
 ?? ?? Bottom left Gerd Schmid (back) and his colleagues assist Vic Elford at Werk 1 in Zuffenhaus­en, circa 1968
Bottom left Gerd Schmid (back) and his colleagues assist Vic Elford at Werk 1 in Zuffenhaus­en, circa 1968

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