- February 23, 1928
- Not Active
The German racing legend Hans Herrmann is one of the oldest living F1 Grand Prix and sports car drivers in the world. He was born on February 23, 1928, and started his career in 1952, being active until 1970. He stayed involved in motorsport until today as a guest at historic meetings and revival events.
Herrmann's biggest success in a career was a victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970, together with Richard Attwood in a Porsche 917K. Prior to that win, Herrmann participated 13 times at Le Mans race, all with Porsche, and scored four class wins but he was missing an overall victory.
In the Formula One World Championship, Herrmann recorded 18 starts, scoring one podium (third place) at 1954 Swiss Grand Prix.
In the beginning of his career, Herrman was driving Porsche sports cars while in open-wheel competitions he raced with Veritas, a long gone German manufacturer of sports and racing cars.
In 1954, he started driving for Mercedes-Benz beside the legends such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Herrmann Lang and Stirling Moss. During that period, Herrmann was a participant of legendary and mythical road races like Carrera Panamericana and Mille Miglia.
In 1954 and 1955, during his contract with Mercedes-Benz, Herrmann proved to be very fast, sometimes even faster than his more famous colleagues, but a string of bad luck and mechanical failures doomed his hopes of winning. After the Mercedes period, Herrmann started driving for various GP and sports car teams.
His driving was always very interesting and dynamic, and he was a crowd favorite. He is remembered by his spectacular crashes and incidents. Never to be forgotten is the incident that occurred during the Mille Miglia in 1954, when Herrmann and his co-pilot Herbert Linge ducked flat under the barriers to cross the rails at a closed level crossing, right in the path of a rapidly approaching train.
Even more spectacular was the accident at the 1959 German Grand Prix when brakes on his BRM failed and he was thrown out of his car, sliding along the track. During the sixties, Herrmann drove for Porsche and Abarth, returning to Porsche works team in 1966.
In 1969, as a member of the Porsche works team together with Jo Siffert, Vic Elford, Rolf Stommelen, Udo Schütz and Gerhard Mitter, he gained the manufacturers’ world championship title for Porsche for the first time. At 1969 Le Mans race, he was beaten by Jacky Ickx by only 120 meters (1.5 seconds) after 24 hours of fierce fighting, in one of the most thrilling Le Mans races of all time. That year, Herrmann was sharing the #64 Porsche 908 with Gerard Larrousse.
Herrmann's biggest success came in 1970 when he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving the #23 Porsche 917 together with Richard Attwood. This was the first and long awaited overall victory for Porsche, and the proper end of a long and interesting career of Hans Herrmann.
After the Le Mans win, Herrmann retired from racing. He had promised his wife Madelaine before the race that if he won he would give up his dangerous profession.
He started a car spare parts business using his connections with various car companies. Since then, Herrmann is often seen during classic cars and racing events, participating either as an attendee or behind the wheel of a race car from legendary and glorious days of motorsport.
Photos: Porsche, unobtaniuminc.wordpress.com, goodoldvalves.tumblr.com, grrc.goodwood.com.
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