Jochen Mass

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Date of birth : September 30 1946

Biography Jochen Mass

Jochen Mass was born in a small village, called Dorfen, located in Bavaria in Germany. There were absolutely no indications in his childhood that Jochen Mass would become a F1 racer later in his life. His youth went rather unnoticed. After leaving school, he worked as a merchant sailor and spent 3 years of his life at sea, travelling from the one continent to the other.

European Touring Car Champion

When he quit that job, and after his return to Germany, he started working as a mechanic at a Alfa Romeo dealership in Mannheim. Soon he started racing in cars like the Giulia and Giulietta’s in local hillclimbs and rallies.  Jochen Mass showed his talents and soon he outgrew the local race scene. He started racing Touring Cars. By 1972 Jochen Mass had got his hands on a gutsy Ford Capri RS2600, co-driving it with fellow German tin-top ace Hans-Joachim Stuck to victory in the famous Spa 24-Hours that year, victoriously sharing it with Dieter Glemser in the Silverstone Tourist Trophy that season, and rounding the year off with a fine win in the Jarama 4-Hours, driving alongside Gérard Larousse and Alex Soler-Roig. 1972 was the year he took the European Touring Car Championship home.

F2 Career

The logical next step in his career was the F2.  In 1973 Jochen Mass participated in the F2 races with a Surtees F2. At first he couldn’t really threaten the big names but suddenly he shocked the race world by taking pole position at Hockenheim. Unfortunately for Jochen Mass, the results of the race were a bit less. However the next race in Sweden he took pole again. With succes this time, as he won the race with a gap of nearly 30 seconds to Patrick Depailler.More succeses for Jochen Mass that same season at Nivelles in Belgium and another race in Hockenheim.

F1 Career

The successes of Jochen Mass didn’t go unnoticed. John Surtees offered him a seat in his F1 Team. An opportunity Jochen Mass couldn’t let go and he took it with both hands  Jochen’s grand prix debut would have come at Silverstone, but he was one of the many drivers eliminated in the startline shunt caused by McLaren’s Jody Scheckter, and sadly he failed to make the restart. First real F1 race for Jochen Mass was at the legendary Nordschleife.

In 1974 Jochen Mass drove for the Surtees Team again. Unfortunately the car wasn’t really reliable with a lost season as a result. The marriage between Jochen Mass and John Surtees ended when he made the step to the McLaren F1 team. He was offered a seat for the races in Canada and USA. Mass finished 14th in Canada and 7th in the USA race in Watkins Glenn.

In 1982 Jochen Mass was involved in the fatal accident of Gilles Villeneuve at the Belgian GP in Zolder. Even though Jochen Mass couldn’t blame himself anything, nothing remained the same for him. He started in some more F1 races  but after a shunt at the French GP in Paul-Ricard that same year, he quitted F1.

Endurance Racing

Gijs van Lennep / Jochen Mass / J.F. Dirickx
Gijs van Lennep / Jochen Mass / J.F. Dirickx @ Daytona Classic 24H

The need for speed prevented Jochen Mass from totally retiring from racing. He started racing in prototypes. In 1985 he won the  1,000 km race in Mugello Italy in a Porsche 962C. In 1987 he teamed up with Bobby Rahal to claim victory at the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring race. Both Jochen Mass and Bobby Rahal combined to win the Champion Spark Plug Grand Prix at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Driving a Porsche 962, they inherited the lead 18 laps from the end. In 1989 Jochen Mass won the most prestigious endurance race of all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in a Sauber Mercedes C9 . It was the second triumph for Mercedes-Benz at Le Mans, after a long time as the previous win was in 1952.

Historic Races

After his career Jochen Mass starts on a regular base as a guest driver in different historic races across the world, like the Daytona Classic 24H. As a Mercedes Ambassor he drives the most exclusive historic cars in rallies and events like the Zoute GP in Belgium or the Classic Days Schloss Dyck.