Driving for Kremer Porsche in their sensational 935 K3

Most sportscar drivers in the seventies would have been very honoured to have had the chance to drive the Porsche 935 K3 developed by the Kremer brothers. At that time the Kremers were the extension of the racing development department at the factory and they were looked upon as the gods of Racing Porsches. I was not only given this chance but was teamed up with the most successful sportscar driver of that era, Bob Wollek. I took with me sponsorship from the Rivet Supply company whose slogan was "stop screwing start rivetting"!! How I obtained this sponsorship is another chapter. The car was awesome and I was truly thrown in at the deep end. Of course Bob set the qualifying time and he started the race. We were up against the likes of Jacky Ickx in the works Martini 935 and many other top line machinery. When it was my turn it had started raining so getting to grips with the 750 bhp, which came rushing with a bang, was mindboggling to say the least.

I remember that there was an Elan in the same race that overtook me, I think driven by the very experienced Mike Chittenden and I just could not keep up in those conditions. But very shortly the rain stopped and all the cars that were in front felt that they were rushing backwards towards me so I soon overhauled the small fry again! The turbo lag was unbelievable with the single turbo pushing out this huge horsepower in one enormous shove in the back. If the huge turbo power came in too early, my automatic reaction would be to lift off, because the sudden huge boost in speed would make the corner come rushing up at breakneck speed, far too fast, missing the apex and probably ending up in the opposite bank on the exit. This problem was exacerbated by the solid differential on the K3 and  subsequent dramatic understeer.

But If I lifted off I was dead in the water as I would have to wait what seemed like an eternity for the power to come back on. When I applied the throttle the way I had always done in any other normally aspirated racer it was always too late because of the huge turbo lag. So I had to find the right point to apply the gas! I was unable to manage a progressive throttle as I had been used to in normally aspirated cars. After qualifying I was explaining my plight to Jacky Ickx and he explained that this was not a problem, all I had to do was when the power came rushing in, whatever happened I must not lift off. What!!?? All I had to do was copy his style of sawing at the steering wheel to scrub off speed and get the nose pointing into the corner but never to lift of and lose power! Pretty awesome task when I first tried it out, but it really worked.
This was a very similar psychological situation to when I first drove down the three and a half mile long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans and arrived at the infamous Kink at La Ferme at full chat before the days of the modern chicanes and when there was a substantial strip of grass between the tarmac and the Armco barriers, making the visual approach much narrower than today. Other experienced Le Mans pilotes would say to me just keep your foot in and it will fly round like on rails! I think the first time I tried it I chickened out and my big toe released a little pressure, the second time I kept my foot in but my big toe was twitching on the pedal!, and the third time round I did not understand what all the fuss was about and I confidently kept the pedal to the metal. From then on, over all the 24 Hour races that I drove, I held the throttle to the floor no matter what the car. Vic Elford once said that if it was misty in the early hours of the Sunday morning of the race when the visibility might be slightly restricted, as you rise the brow in the track quite a few hundred meters before the apex of the Kink, just count "One,Two, Turn and you will hit the apex when travelling at full speed without fail!! I tried a comparison in my road car when the road was open at about 100mph and after topping the rise, I counted One ,Two, Three, Four, Five before I even got close to the apex. This just showed me how fast a real Le Mans racer was at over 200 mph.

I used to go out to the kink after a session in the racecar on my Harley-Davidson Sportster and just stand behind behind the barriers on the outside of the kink in the woods, out of sight of the police who were patrolling the area, and just gasp at the sight of the fastest cars coming into earshot at full chat passing the apex without a lift and disappearing down towards the signalling pits at Mulsanne Corner with the noise never altering from first appearing till it faded out of earshot. I could not believe that I would be back in one of these racers again in an hour or two dashing down this unending flatout strip of tarmac, at aerodynamic top speed.