PEOPLE: JOCHEN NEERPASCH

Name: Jochen Neerpasch
Nationality: Germany

Born in the industrial city of Krefeld, near Essen, Neerpasch began racing in 1960 in a road-going Borgward and he learned the trade in touring car events around Germany. This led to his big break, the offer to drive one of Carroll Shelby's Cobras at Le Mans in 1964, sharing the car with Chris Amon. The car failed late in the race. At the same time Neerpasch was trying to fund a Formula 3 programme but without much success. That year he had his first races with the Porsche factory team, finishing seventh on the Targa Florio. In 1965 he did a number of races with the factory Porsche team but his best result was in a Ford Mustang with which he finished second in the Nurburgring Six Hours. That year he shared a Maserati with Jo Siffert in the Le Mans 24 Hours but failed to finish the event. In 1966 he won his first major victory in a Porsche factory car at Mugello and finished second in the German GT series but his F3 exploits came to an end with a big crash in Argentina. At Le Mans he shared a GT40 with Jacky Ickx but without success. A fulltiem member of the Porsche squad in 1967 he won the 84-hour Nurburgring Marathon and shared a Prosch 910 with Vic Elford to finish third in the Nurburgring 1000 and on the Targa Florio and second at Le Mans. Sharing a car with Rolf Stommelen he finished sixth at Le Mans. The 1968 season began with a bad accident in practice for the Daytona 24 Hours but he came back to win the race in a Porsche 907 which he was sharing with Elford, Siffert and Stommelen. He and Elford were second in the Sebring 12 Hours and third at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch. There were further good placings as the year went on but then he had a huge crash at Spa, which demolished the car. He returned to action at Le Mans and finished third with Stommelen but then announced that he was retiring, saying that "you can only win at Russian roulette for so long". He immediately took on the job of being Competition Director of Ford Germany and quickly built a successful team around the Ford RS Capri in touring car racing. In May 1972, however, he quit Ford to become Competition Director of BMW. Starting out with touring cars, Neerpasch then did a deal to supply BMW engines in Formula 2 with enormous success, particularly with the March factory team which a string of victories in the 1970s. He then masterminded the BMW Junior Team with Marc Surer, Manfred Winkelhock and Eddie Cheever. All three drivers went on to F1 success while BMW's profile was raised by the Procar series which ran as a support event at Grands Prix in 1979 and 1980. Neerpasch wanted to take BMW to F1 but the company baulked at the idea and Neerpasch quit as a result and briefly became involved with the Talbot effort in Formula 1. After that he worked as a consultant before being named Racing Manager of Daimler-Benz in January 1989. In this role he oversaw the successful Sauber-run Mercedes sportscar programme, winning two World Sports-Prototype Championship titles in 1989 and 1990. Neerpasch also set up the Mercedes Junior Team drivers to get drivers Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen into Grand Prix racing. In October 1990 however Neerpasch was replaced by Norbert Haug and he joined Sauber as sporting director but he left there in the summer of 1992 before the new F1 car had even run and went back to beng a motor racing consultant. His most recent involvement was with BMW, advising on a new Junior Team in the late 1990s.

Print