The Racing BaronHide Text
As it turned out, I was not alone. The term 'Public Relations', (and the concept), was known to few people in postwar Germany. One could not study the subject at a university, there were no text books. But there was Huschke and he practically invented it. Having made a name for himself as a racing driver, he started out at Porsche in the early 50's by selling the few cars they made at the time to his aristocratic friends and royal acquaintances. This gave the car a certain aura, which he recognized and skillfully exploited every waking moment of his life. Every visit of a prince, count or sports star was recorded on film, (usually by him) and was made available to the local or national press. As the company did no advertising in the 60's (only dealers did), but derived most of its publicity from achievements on the race track, Huschke's expertise in the motor racing field and his worldwide contacts in the sport were an essential ingredient in building the company's image and reputation.
He created the image that to drive such a car made one special by association. It signaled to the world that you were a very good driver (potentially as good as a professional racing driver), that you were hip and young (even if you were not) and that above all else, you had taste and style (as he did) and an appreciation for the finer things in life (like his titled friends).
It was made clear to us who worked for him directly, that furthering Porsche's image was what we were there for. Getting the name Porsche in the paper as often as possible, preferably daily, was the top priority. We should consider it a privilege to work for the company and complete dedication to the task at hand was taken as a given. In our little cocoon of intense, action-packed, relentless work, we barely knew that the 60's were happening, that there was a drug culture out there, that the Beatles made new music or that the Vietnam War was going on.
Huschke, and by extension our department, was responsible for managing the following areas: Porsche entries in the Formula II series 1960, the Grand Prix Formula I seasons 1961 and 1962, (including travel and hotel accommodations), the World Sports Car Championship, the European Rally Championship, the European Hill Climb Championship, supervision of and assistance to all private entry Porsche drivers, Porsche Clubs worldwide, introduction of new Porsche models including the 911, the Targa, the Carrera 904, the Bergspyder, the 908 and various other racing cars, contacts to the worldwide press, factory tours twice daily, literature on all new car models and weekly racing press releases (in three languages), Christmas parties and gifts, special occasion events including funerals, visits to all race events (Hutschke) and selected events (some of us).
In retrospect it boggles the mind that all this was handled by approximately ten people who, with the exception of Eddi Barth and von Huschke's secretary Erna Angemeer, were in their twenties. Some of us became lifelong friends like Thora Hornung (later writer of many motor racing books), Ilse Naedele (later in charge of worldwide Porsche clubs) and Ole Kirk Jensen (later PR director of Volvo). The confidence that "the Boss" as we called him, inspired in us back then served us very well later in life.
Huschke was the driver, we were his pitcrew. He was mission control, the center of the wheel. All 'spokes' had to function quickly and without fail, let alone complaint. Leaving for home at normal business closing hours he considered bourgeois, getting tired was un-aristocratically wimpy and getting ill for old people. Looking well-groomed was a must. After all, "you are working for Porsche" He looked at all times like the English Lord 'to the Manor born'. Tailor made blue and white striped shirts peeked out from expensive tweed jackets or summer linen blazers, long before such fashions were even known in Germany. Hand-made leather loafers, a generation old were slipped over bright red or pink socks, his little mischievous signal of rebellion against the corporate (dull?) establishment to which he did not really want to belong. His modus operandi in the office could be described as 'managed chaos' . His large, drawerless desk was covered at all times with papers, books, homologation sheets, photographs and souvenirs from friends and fans.
No letter was too insignificant, no note too trivial, no present too small to escape his attention and shame on us if we ever forgot to send acknowledgements or 'thank yous'. We marveled at his exquisite 'politesse' and wit in dealing with his worldwide correspondence. No moment was like another. Unpredictability was the one thing you could count on and had to be ready for. Within minutes his mood would change from furious temper outbursts and loudly voiced criticism for minor mistakes, to lavish praise for a job well done, calling us by sweet-sounding nicknames he invented for each of us. It was a mercurial daily performance that needed getting used to and those who could not cope with it did not last long. After Wolfgang von Trips' death in Monza in September 1961, his extreme hard edge was gone. I had never seen a man so distraught before and only once later, when my husband lived through the aftermath of Jimmy Clark's accident in Hockenheim. After that horrendous Sunday in Monza, Huschke asked me to come to his home for the first time. He wanted to give some direction for the days he was going to be absent from the office.
I still see him sitting in his fur-covered rocking chair with his dog Bonga by his side, attended by his beloved Ursula and barely able to speak. He had been a mentor and father figure to Count Trips, nurturing his career from the very beginning and I think he felt he had lost a son. Up to that point he had seemed strong and awe-inspiring, now he was vulnerable and infinitely sad. I always felt that we forged a real bond at that moment, a man who had seen it all and a young woman who was going to see plenty within the decade.