Racing driver from Stuttgart celebrates his 90th birthday
The proverbial "Hans im Glück" (Hans in Luck) at the wheel celebrated his greatest successes with sports cars from Zuffenhausen: in the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, the Carrera Panamericana and of course in Le Mans, with the first overall victory for Porsche in 1970, driving a 917. His career began appropriately: in 1952, in a private Porsche 356, he took part in hill climbs, rallies and reliability runs. The very next year, he came fifth in the Lyon-Charbonnières Rally, together with Richard von Frankenberg in a Porsche 356. Thereupon Porsche's racing manager at that time, Huschke von Hanstein, brought him into Porsche works team. In 1953, Herrmann went to the start for the first time in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where, together with co-pilot Helm Glöckler in a Porsche 550 Coupé, he gained a best of class victory in the category up to 1.5 liters capacity at his very first try.
After Herrmann had also secured the title of German Sports Car Champion in the same year, he attracted the attention of Mercedes-Benz head of racing Alfred Neubauer, who integrated the 26-year-old into his works team along with Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling. Parallel to this, in 1954 Herrmann continued to start for Porsche and gained prestigious class victories in the 550 Spyder in the Mille Miglia and the Carrera Panamericana.
Never to be forgotten is the spectacular 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. Later, Herrmann made a photo of the spectacular moment the subject of a letter card, with the inscription "Glück muss man haben" ("You've got to be lucky"). In conversation, he completed this definition in a much more serious undertone: "Glück hat, wer als Rennfahrer überlebt." ("Luck, for a racing driver, is to survive").
In 1962 he changed to Carlo Abarth and was active as works driver for the Vienna design engineer from 1963. Three years later, in 1966, he returned to the Porsche works team once again. Not only did Herrmann take part in all the great endurance races, besides driving European hill climb championship courses; he also carried out countless test drives in the – then newly-opened – Weissach Development Center.
He took this climax of a career in motor sport as the occasion to withdraw from active racing at the age of 42. He had also promised his wife Madelaine before the race that if he won he would give up his dangerous profession. As a pilot of historic racecars, he also takes part in many vintage car events for the Porsche Museum, including the "Le Mans Classic", the "Targa Florio" and the "Solitude Revival".
1953 24 Hours of Le Mans 550 Coupé First place (in class)
1953 German Grand Prix, Nürburgring 550 Spyder First place (in class)
1954 Mille Miglia 550 Spyder First place (in class)
1954 Carrera Panamericana 550 Spyder First place (in class)
1956 12 Hours of Sebring 550 Spyder First place (in class)
1956 German Grand Prix, Nürburgring 550 A Spyder First place (in class)
1960 12 Hours of Sebring 718 RS 60 First place (overall)
1960 Targa Florio 718 RS 60 First place (overall)
1966 Austrian Grand Prix 906 Carrera 6 First place (overall)
1967 Spa 1000 km 910 2nd place (overall)
1967 Marathon de la Route, Nürburgring 911 R First place (overall)
1968 24 Hours of Daytona 907 First place (overall)
1968 Nürburgring 1000 km 907 2nd place (overall)
1968 12 Hours of Sebring 907 First place (overall)
1968 Paris 1000 km 908 First place (overall)
1969 Nürburgring 1000 km 908 2nd place (overall)
1969 24 Hours of Le Mans 908 2nd place (overall)
1969 Monza 1000 km 908 2nd place (overall)
1970 Nürburgring 1000 km 908 2nd place (overall)
1970 24 Hours of Le Mans 917 First place (overall)