b Weissach (Germany), June 11, 1928
Porsche driver whose racing and rally career for the works spans the late fifties and entire sixties while at the same time being a Porsche factory director and test driver. Starting out as a navigator for Hans Herrmann in the Mille Miglia, Linge soon became a mainstay for the Porsche sportscar team while also taking the 911 to its first major success in rallying, taking 5th in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.
Linge first teamed up with Carel in the 1958 Le Mans race, racing Porsche’s 550-0145. They scored a magnificent result, taking 5th overall and second in the Sports 1500 class. Linge was due to share with Carel again in 1960 but eventually Dickie Stoop was paired with the Dutchman.
More than being a part-time racing driver, Herbert Linge was known as the man responsible for creating Porsche's competition department at Zuffenhausen. Being offered a job in November 1949 as employee number one, the 21-year-old had already served an apprencticeship, starting work in the Stuttgart factory at 15 years of age before being granted a scholarship to attend the local engineering school, where he studied three afternoons per week during those hard times in war-struck Germany.
After Porsche left the Austrian town of Gmünd to move back to Stuttgart, Linge was the first to be taken on, showing that competition would always be central to Porsche's philosophy. However, before being put in charge of the racing workshop, Linge was sent to the US to help out the fast-growing contingency of American customers, even acting as a riding mechanic for those racing with their cars. This didn't go unnoticed back home, and so he was paired to Hans Herrmann in the 1954 Mille Miglia, where he did a full reconnaissance and created the pace notes that Denis Jenkinson would become famous for one year later. Herrmann's class win led to Linge being asked to join rally ace Helmut Polensky in the Liège-Rome-Liège monster rally. Effectively being a long-distance race, the 3100-mile event asked for both men to share driving duties, giving Linge the opportunity to show what his racing skills were made of. The pair won it outright.
From now on, Linge would be Porsche's development driver, testing all the cars that came out of his workshop. And similar to Rudolf Uhlenhaut at Mercedes-Benz in the thirties, he would be just as quick as the regular racing drivers. Or even quicker. The most famous example came in 1962 when he was testing the new 804 F1 car at the Nürburgring. He hated single-seaters with a vengeance, but still he managed to put fresh egg on the face of Jo Bonnier, who couldn't get it to lap faster than the old 718. Linge could. Then lead driver Dan Gurney had a go and beat Linge's time with a blindingly fast lap at scary speeds. Later, Gurney would admit to Linge why he was so quick that day. "Because I was scared stiff that you would do to me what you did to Bonnier."
By that time, the racing department had grown to 200 people, led by Linge, with a dedicated test track at Weissach, near Linge's home, where the department would relocate to later in the sixties. He last raced in 1970, sharing a 908 at Le Mans with Jonathan Williams, before bowing to Ferdinand Piëch's wish for him to focus on the racing department. He quit in 1988, leaving a department of 800 people behind.
In the seventies, Linge was also responsible for creating the ONS Feuerschutzstaffel, a fire protection relay system comprising of 16 fully equipped fire-engine cars that could be positioned strategically around a race track, with their engines running and connected to race control through continuous radio communications. These cars were made available to any German racing weekend and meant a giant leap in track safety. The crews - consisting of a sportscar driver and a fireman - were able to turn a burning car back on its wheels within 20 seconds and put out a fuel fire using a single squirt of Halon extinguisher.
The car that Carel and Herbert shared in the 1958 Le Mans 24 Hrs.