This morning’s Morning Shift on the front page reminded us of the great Rolf Stommelen’s death at Riverside on this day in 1983. The owner of the shop I work for was a crew chief for Dick Barbour in those days, running the lesser known Wynn’s #73 935 which would finish 9th overall at Le Mans in 1979. I responded this morning with a story he has long told of Stommelen at Le Mans that year, and thought it was worth sharing here:
“Great story about Rolf Stommelen, from my boss who was a crew chief with the Barbour 935s at Le Mans: In the ‘79 race Stommelen did much of the heavy lifting in the now famous 2nd-place Hawaiian Tropic car with Paul Newman and Barbour. At some point in the night, the car was several minutes behind another for position and Newman was coming out of the car. Stommelen waited in the pitlane, in the rain, smoking a cigarette. His only question was “How much time?”. They told him, he simply said “ok”, got in the car, drove into the building storm, and promptly made it all up.”
The car holed a piston within minutes of the end, and Rolf wisely parked it near the finish, managing to keep the engine running long enough to limp across the line at the flag, taking second place behind the famous Kremer 935. Lots of great stories of that time around here, perhaps sometime I’ll commit to writing them all down to share on Oppo.