Kremer Remembered - by Mark Cole
Further to your appreciation of the late Erwin Kremer and his long
and successful Porsche racing career, there were two
other sportscar victories which stand out, recalls Mark Cole.
In 1985 the
Kremer brothers took their one and only World Sportscar Championship
Group C victory in the Monza
1000 Kms, when a mini-tornado dropped a tree across the track at Lesmo One.
and Marc Surer were leading Hans Stuck's Rothmans Porsche
and Riccardo Patrese's Lancia when the race was 'truncated'.
Their Barclay 962 was about to stop for fuel - which
its two pursuers had already taken - but was declared
winner when the red flag was shown at the 800km
But there were
lows too. Four months later Winkelhock died after crashing in
the same car at Mosport Park after a suspected - but never proven
- tyre failure. The following year Jo Gartner was
killed in Kremer's Kenwood Porsche when it crashed over the Mulsanne Straight barriers.
after Gartner's death that he had thought long and hard about continuing
in racing, feeling as reponsible for his drivers as he did for his own family.
were to come with the 962-based Spyder K7: Interserie titles
in 1992 (with Manuel Reuter) and in 1993 (with Gianni
Lavaggi). The evolution of this car, the K8, was
raced to 6th place at Le Mans in 1994 by Derek Bell, Jürgen Lässig and Robin Donovan in Gulf colours
The 1995 Daytona
24 Hours win followed in the K8, but soon after long-time team
manager Aachim Stroth left to form his own team with Lavaggi,
and Erwin and Manfred split.
international victory came with his protege Ralf Kelleners and South
African Gary Formato in the Sports Racing World Cup finale at
Kyalami in 2000 - ironically in a Lola-Ford, not one of his beloved Porsches.
I last had
a long conversation with him at Le Mans two years ago, when he was
back running his Group C Porsches in historic events, and happily,
had also been reunited with his brother. But he was
having heart problems even then, although he kept a cheerful face on things.
He loved the
Le Mans 24 Hours, having competed as a driver from 1970 to 1974,
and then as an entrant until 1999, competing 30 times in all.
One year - 1994 - was with Honda NSXs, and in 1999
it was with the Roush V8-powered Lola. Otherwise,
it was always with 'Made in Köln'
Porsches, as they proudly proclaimed
The 1979 Le
Mans win with Klaus Ludwig and the Whittington brothers was particularly
sweet for the Kremers, having re-engineered their Group 5 935 into
the sophisticated K3, using aerospace Kevlar and other ultra-light materials at a time Weissach was still using fibreglass and aluminium.
It beat not
only the factory Essex 936s but also took 3rd place overall with
its BP 935 driven by Ferrier, Servanin and Trisconio, sandwiching
the second-placed Hawaiian Tropic Dick Barbour 935
of Paul Newman, Ralf
Stommelen and Barbour.
in every sense of the word, Erwin will be remembered as a man who
was never afraid to take on the Porsche factory, occasionally
beating it, as both a driver and team owner.