All translations for this page: Other translations for this page:

Just in Time

Co-driver and racing manager, but more importantly timekeeper of Porsche: We're talking about Peter Falk. The man, who always was in the right place at the right time.

Text: Michael Petersen Photo: Porsche 22.05.2019 3 min

Falk-Time: His team usually came half an hour early. Just so they're not too late. The deep knowledge and feeling for time to the hundredth of a second belongs to Peter Falk just like the racing car belongs to the racing driver. In historic motorsport, he tests the light barrier in the hotel before major events. He builds it between the bedroom and the bathroom.

This sense of time allows him to keep the overview. For 24 hours, if necessary. Just like Le Mans. Example 1964: Mechanics call out starting numbers to the engineer sitting deep in the pits as the racing cars race along the home straight. Falk assigns the cars to the start numbers and compares them with the clock, which runs normally. These seconds are referred to as the "cycle time". So Falk knows when a car passes the box. This allows the lap time to be calculated and a lap table to be maintained without the need for a calculator. And Porsche's racing strategists already know exactly where their cars are and where their opponents are.

Only problem: "In the noise of engines, the Call of the mechanics was often hard to understand." In 1965 headphones and microphone were ready. "It's gotten a lot better." Replacement? Nope. "I've always pulled this off," says Falk about three decades of Le Mans timing experience. At that time, Falk repeatedly optimized the methods for time recording. There was still a long way to go before the computers could deliver the thousandths of a second recorded by transponders in real time.

Peter Falk, born in 1932, joined Porsche in 1959. Trial drive, that was the first station. When he started driving, he was one of only ten men in the small department. This was followed by advanced development and racing support for Falk. What does the sequence of numbers 904, 906, 907, 908, 909, 910 and 917 mean? That's right, Falk looked after these vehicles, many of which he drove in tests at racing speed between 1964 and 1969. Years later, between 1982 and 1988, another series of numbers follows: 956, 962, 962 C, 959 and TAG turbo, CART - Porsche's racing programs without race director Peter Falk? I can't imagine it.

And the number 911? There he sat next to Herbert Linge during the very first sporting event of this type. The bet: Monte Carlo Rally 1965. Falk devised a forerunner of modern intercoms: "I spoke into a thick plastic tube leading directly into Herbert's helmet. This speaking tube worked very well". On the big loop the rally field sank into the snow. Racing strategist Falk knew how to help himself. He reports: "By compass we found the time control at the end of the special stage, nobody came after us". Linge/Falk finished fifth in the overall classification with the almost standard 911.

He took care of lap times, even if the factory team wasn't at the start at all. So in Fuji/Japan in October 1986, World Cup final of group C. Who was world champion after the 1000 kilometer race: Brun-Porsche or Jaguar? The official timekeeping awarded the title to the British. At first. When doubts arose, Falk and the Japanese timekeeper compared their records. "We found the mistake, over the distance of 225 laps the protocol for one lap was not correct". Whose fault? The official timekeeper corrected, Porsche's customer team of Walter Brun received the title. Thanks to the Falk-Time.