Hans-Joachim Stuck and the Porsche 962 C

If there was one race car in Hans-Joachim Stuck’s life that was particularly close to his heart, it was probably the Porsche 962 C. “Strietzel”, as fans and friends like to call him, began his career in smaller racing events in the late 1960s. Successes in touring and sports cars, as well as in Formula 2, led him all the way to Formula 1, where he raced for smaller teams from 1974 to 1979. However, he felt much more at home in closed cars. Among other things, he won the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring three times (1970, 1998 and 2004). In 1972, he became European Touring Car Champion with Ford. Seven years later, he finished second overall in the Procar series with the BMW M1. From 1980, he was under contract to Porsche and played a key role in developing the 956 and 962 C. Successful periods followed at Audi (1988 to 1995), Opel (1996), Porsche (1996 to 1997), BMW (1998 to 2007) and VW (2008 to 2011).

Stuck drove the most test kilometers

But back to the 1980s and the Porsche 956 and 962 C. The Porsche factory team had read and internalized the Group C regulations down to the smallest details. As a result, they were able to build what was probably the most successful race car of the era. In the World Sports Car Championship and several national championships, there was no match for the car built at the Weissach development base. The ability to test the cars on the driveway directly in front of the company’s own factory building was undoubtedly helpful. This meant that any problems with newly developed components could be quickly identified and remedied. Since the other factory drivers Derek Bell, Al Holbert and Jochen Mass lived far away, Hans-Joachim Stuck had the honor of logging the most test kilometers on the 956 and 962 C. Some of them actually took place unobserved.

1987 Supercup-winning car restored

“It certainly happened that the crew filled up my tank again around 4:00 p.m.. Then it was, ‘Drive as long as you can. Write down everything important, we are gone now.’ And then they really were gone, as was the track safety team. I then did my laps, put the car in the halls, closed the roller shutter and drove hom,” reports Strietzel in retrospect. Thanks to his enormous experience and many laps, he knew this Porsche race car better than anyone else. This stood him in a good stead in difficult races. He won both the 24-hour race in Le Mans and the overall standings in the German ADAC Würth Supercup in 1986 and 1987. Added to this were victories in 1986 and 1988 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. His 1987 ADAC Würth Supercup winning car underwent extensive restoration by the Porsche Museum team over the last year and a half.

Vehicle served as a test car from 1988

It all began with an examination of the actual condition of the car, which had been in storage for over 30 years. Former racing director Norbert Singer, Rob Powell (responsible for the Shell livery at the time), and technicians Armin Burger and Traugott Brecht had a look. The car in question was the 962 C with which Porsche tested the dual-clutch transmission (PDK) for the first time under competition conditions. Two years earlier they had already lent one to Audi for their Sport quattro S1/E2. For the second race of the 1986 season, Shell was won as the main sponsor for the Stuck car and the design was changed accordingly. The so-called livery, as complete color adaptations to a main sponsor are called, changed to the colors red, yellow and black. These were retained for the 1987 season, in which Strietzel was able to defend his title. The car subsequently served as an aerodynamic test car and as a reference vehicle for the factory collection.

Former designer replicated the livery

After the visual inspection, Armin Burger and Traugott Brecht set about disassembling and dismantling the 962 C to restore it to its 1987 state. To do this, various components had to be painstakingly rebuilt by the Motorsport workshop team. In the course of the development work, the car had been given a different underbody and differently positioned radiators. These modifications were withdrawn, as were those to the bodywork. New cylinder heads were made in the company’s own foundry. When the car was finally pre-painted in innocent white, Rob Powell arrived with stencils and various adhesive tapes, just as he had done some 35 years ago. He marked the outlines of the different color areas to make the painters’ work easier. After perfectly matched masking work, the colors red, yellow and black followed as they once did, and finally the sponsor logos were applied in the correct positions.

Strietzel Stuck was surprised

Hans-Joachim Stuck, meanwhile, had no idea of this restoration work. Porsche only surprised him after the 962 C was ready and restored to its former glory. And doubly so, because in addition to the car, they had also brought his old racing suit from 1987 to an appointment on the Weissach test track. Stuck actually still fit into it and immediately put on his famous blue racing helmet with the white stars as well. With an impish grin, he swung into the cockpit and put the Porsche through some initial laps. A few days later, fans were able to experience the car during the virtual Porsche Sound Night. Various events are already planned for 2022 to mark the upcoming “40 Years of Group C” anniversary, during which the 962 C will be seen standing and driving. With Hans-Joachim Stuck at the wheel, of course.

Images: Porsche