1974 Porsche 911 S “ONS R1” Pilot: - Team: ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel Race: German GP (Nürburgring) Minichamps - 400746800 (diecast)
Up to the 80’s, race track safety was not a big issue. Racing was a dangerous sport, thus everybody accepted the risks. Yet, risks can always be minimized, but back then there was no “need” to invest in safety. That being so, the fatality rate in motorsports was, looking back, absurd. And the worst part was that very few people thought otherwise. However, one of these select few was Herbert Linge.
Linge worked for Porsche as a mechanic at the Weissach plant, and being a naturally talented pilot, with time became a factory driver. He even raced at the Mille Miglia, Sebring, Targa Florio and Le Mans (15 times). So he understood the risks of motorsports in a first hand basis. In the late 60’s, the Nordschleife, Nürburgring, was a specially dangerous track. Aptly nicknamed “Green Hell” by Jackie Stewart, it was absurdly long (23 km), with a narrow track and almost no access roads. Furthermore, there was a huge forest in the center. Depending on where it happened, an accident on the Nordschleife was easily fatal because help would take too long to arrive.
Thinking specifically about Nürburgring, in 1972 Linge created the ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel. The ONS (Oberste Nationale Sportbehörde) was Germany’s Motor Sport Federation. The ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel (ONS Safety Team) was the federation’s fast response unit, and was the first mobile track marshaling crew. Linge’s idea was to have a vehicle that could reach the accident quickly, so he initially chose a Porsche 914. Sometime later he also added a 911 S to the team, and like the 914, the “911 ONS R1” also carried fire fighting and first aid equipment. And just as important, the passenger of the ONS R1 was a skilled first-responder, chauffeured by a former professional pilot.
At the Nordschleife the ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel was the difference between life and death. Niki Lauda only survived his terrible crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix because of the ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel’s unit. The fast arrival of their 911 permitted Niki Lauda to receive prompt critical care on the track side. That day, the pilot of the ONS R1 was Horst Krausecke, and Dr. Schmeiser was the first responder as passenger. The crash happened at 14h23m55sec, and the ONS R1 unit arrived at 14h24m40sec. For Nürburgring, before 1972 that would have been just impossible. Lauda suffered very serious burns, but despite that he recovered and just six weeks later was racing again.
Minichamps excellently recreated in scale the 911 S ONS R1. From the pics I’ve seen of the actual car, the model looks to be spot on. Possibly not a model for most, but I was absolutely delighted with the history behind it. And since Minichamps also offers a ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel 914, I’m tempted to complete the set…