Just a few metres from the entrance to the Döttinger Höhe, the atmosphere is calm. While at the front of the track the tension is palpable, cars are coming off the last lap or going onto the track for the next one, drivers are getting in and out, discussing with their instructors or focused on the next stint. A little bit of a southern feel to the place. An Austrian dialect colours the conversations that can be caught in passing. Friendly laughter characterises the scenery between stacked racing tyres, camping chairs and mechanics checking the air pressure and occasionally reaching for a tool. If you didn't know for sure that this is a Porsche Track Experience event on one of the most challenging race tracks in the world, it could also be a scene from a weekend racer movie. Somewhere on a random race track that nobody knows about. Right in the centre sits Harry – calmness personified. He frequently directs a mechanic with a casual hand movement or pats a friend approvingly on the shoulder. But above all, with his relaxed manner, he gives the impression that this is more like a large circle of friends than competitors on the track.
Both are true. And that's down to Harry. Harry in numbers? First Porsche: A pre-owned 914/6 - sometime in the early 1970s. Then the first 911 with more than 140,000 kilometres on the clock. His first 911 Turbo in 2006. Then a few more. Eventually the first GT3 (“nobody wanted it back then”), then the GT3 RS. Since then, a new one almost every year. How many exactly? He doesn't really know anymore. He must have had fifty Porsche in his life by now. Harry as a person? “I live near Vienna on a golf course. But playing golf itself never interested me. I enjoy the quiet there, the consistency, the reliability. I've met the same friends in the coffee shop almost every day for fifty years. I used to ride motocross – I broke everything you can break. At some point I started to drive the Porsche more seriously with two partners. We quickly realised that it's actually best when you always ride with the same people. You know each other, can assess each other and trust each other.”
“These are all people you want to shake hands with.” Harald "Harry" Schierl
A few new faces have joined the circle of friends over time – there must be around 40 by now. Thanks to his initiative, they meet again and again at various racetracks at Porsche Track Experience events. “Sometimes when I come to a circuit people come up to me and say, ‘Hi, you're Harry, I've heard about you! Can I join you too?'” Harry then lets them ride along, observes them, takes in their character and decides whether they would be a good match for his circle of friends. “Only people who behaves. We need fellow thinkers who look out for each other. People you want to shake hands with.”
Klemens from Vienna is one of them. He is perhaps the most conspicuous personality this weekend, visually speaking. With his harlequin-coloured racing overalls and the expressively painted 911 GT3 RS (991), which he also likes to use as a daily car in Vienna. “People say, ‘You have such a fine colourful car. I saw you in it again the other day’. You can't stay inconspicuous with it onthe road.” Of course, a good dose of self-confidence is part of it. He is also a successful notary in the fine inner-city district of Vienna, where dis - cretion and restraint dominate. “Yes, you will certainly hear statements like ‘He bought that with my fee’. The fact that there is a lot of work, experience, risk and responsibility behind it is something that is often over - looked.” Klemens says he has never had a problem with it, unlike some colleagues who also own a Porsche but never show it. It took many years before he fulfilled his dream of owning his first Porsche. For 35 years he carried this dream around with him. He knew he'd have one someday.
“I find pleasure in driving and I drive as fast as I find enjoyable.“ Klemens Huppmann
“Here in Austria, it takes an average of 15 to 20 years to become a notary. When I was appointed notary at the age of 40, I bought my first Porsche. A preowned 911 convertible in Dark Blue.” After various driver and safety training courses, Klemens ended up on a racetrack by chance. The rest is history. “With my GT3 RS, I have reached the goal I dreamt of. As an amateur, you can drive really fast with it.” Here on the Nordschleife, he says, he has now reached the “fun level”: “I drive as fast as I find enjoyable. With guided driving, I sometimes reach my personal limit when the instructor in the lead vehicle really puts their foot down. Above all, I enjoy riding alone, focussing on one or two passages to get even better, to see what works. I don't always drive at my personal limit. It still needs to be pleasurable:“ Are the weekends on the racetrack the icing on the cake? Free from professional commitments, Klemens can now arrange his time as he likes. “Depending on the situation, I‘ll drive to the racetrack two days beforehand, play a bit of golf first, then spend the days on the racetrack. I then take two days for the journey home. That's my idea of a perfect week.”
“Top speed on straight lanes? That isn't my thing.” Harald "Harry" Schierl
One of these perfect weeks is almost coming to an end. The day on the Nordschleife is over, the final lap driven. Even though the catering was perfect once again and you had everything you could want in the Porsche Hospitality tent, Harry and Klemens were still enticed by a very special treat: the „Rennwurst“ at the end of the day. At the Nürburgring that means Box 1 in the historic paddock. It's a few kilometres along winding Eifel roads back to the entrance to the Grand Prix track, where Alex Huth fired up the barbecue and fryer in good time. “We're actually all very down to earth, a bit like the takeaway here,” Harry says. “If you're like me and you're racing at 15 events a year, you have to re-acquaint yourself with it every time you get to a track. There's something different every time. A section has been resurfaced, the grip changes and all that. It's nice to know that there are things you can simply rely on.”
“We're actually very down-to-earth. Appreciate that we know and can trust each other.” Harald "Harry" Schierl
Text first published in the Porsche magazine STORIES.
Author: Berthold Dörrich
Photos: Klaus Schwaiger
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