Mama, Don't Take My Einspritzer Away

The BRE Datsun 240Z a few weeks ago reminded me how much I love old-school slide film. This is a 1972 Porsche 917/10 that I shot on Kodachrome in 2006. Could anyone else stare at this all day?


Random Trivia Department: In his book The Unfair Advantage, Mark Donohue tells of working with Bosch engineers to develop the fuel-injection pump for the first turbocharged Porsche 917. It was a long and drawn-out process, one made more difficult by the fact that both Porsche and Bosch believed the car to be perfect when Donohue first drove it*.

After much prodding and testing, the Germans produced a pump calibration that they claimed was closer to what Donohue wanted. He immediately tested it on the car, shattering the lap record at Weissach in the process. The story has been told before, but it never gets old:

The first time I drove the car with the motor working the way it should, I came in and said, 'Boy, this is one strong mother!' None of the Germans were familiar with the term, so I had to explain that it meant 'very, very powerful.'

From then on they used the expression quite a lot without knowing its real derivation. They asked me if it had enough power then, and I said, 'No. It will never have enough power until I can spin the wheels at the end of the straightaway in high gear.' They were aghast at that. They had never seen motors put out even as much power as we had. As they reached 800 horsepower, they literally burned out one of their dynamometers.

By the end of the year, the five-liter engine was up to 880 horsepower, and the best 5.4-liter engine in 1973 was eventually good for 1190 horsepower. All the time they kept asking, 'Now does it have enough?' And I kept saying, 'I still can't spin the wheels all the way down the straightaway.'"


Incidentally, if you haven't read the book, it's fascinating. Unfair is one of the most entertaining, wide-ranging, and informative motorsport books ever written. If you do nothing else with your life, read A) the chapter on how Penske made the Trans-Am Camaros work and B) the section on the turbocharged 917s. Fascinating stuff, all told by a humble, funny, and thoroughly charming guy. And I was born too damn late.


*Light-switch boost, an on-off throttle, and 800-plus horsepower? Let's go with, er, no.

(Photo geekiness, if anyone's interested: I took the top shot with a Canonet QL17 rangefinder filled with Kodachrome 64. 1972 Porsche 917/10, Summer 2006, Laguna Seca.)

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