Bob Wollek (C) Porsche

Born : November 4 1943
Deceased : March 16 2001

Biography Bob Wollek

Bob Wollek was born in Strasbourg in 1943. Wollek began his sporting career as a member of the national ski team. He belonged to the group which included famous Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy. After winning the 1966 students´ world championship he moved on to try his luck in motorsport. Wollek took part in a driver training, which he won. In 1967 he secured victory in his first rally, the Mont-Blanc-Rallye, in a Renault 8 Gordini. 

1983 Daytona 24H Victory Lane

Soon after, Bob Wollek joined Ron Dennis‘ Formula 2 team (1971-1973). But finally, Wollek concentrated on GT and prototype sport with Porsche racing sportscars. By 1974 the Frenchman had become a Porsche specialist, and since 1976 has won the prestigious Porsche Cup seven times. As a work and private driver, he secured four overall victories at the 24 Hours at Daytona (USA) in a Porsche 962 (1983, 1985, 1989, 1991), clinched an overall and a class win in Sebring (1984, 1997), and in 1983 became German and European Champion. Only an overall victory at his home event, the Le Mans 24 Hour race, remained elusive. The quiet Frenchman contested the endurance classic 30 times.


1983 Daytona 24H – driver’s change. Bob Wollek just left the car and watches AJ Foyt climbing in (C) Peter Gloede

Wollek enjoyed his greatest success with Porsche and was the driver with the most wins during this period. Competing for private teams operated by Erwin Kremer and Reinhold Joest, he was awarded the Porsche Cup a total of seven times between 1976 and 1989. Even today, Porsche continues to present this lucrative honor to the best private Porsche driver of the year.  Bob Wollek collected a lot of points in the Porsche Cup standings at events in the USA.

In certain years, Wollek flew across the Atlantic more than 20 times a season in order to race Porsches in the USA. After sleeping on the return flight following a race weekend, he would be back at work in his Strasbourg car dealership bright and early the next morning. Wollek sold the dealership at the age of 50: ‘Only then did I become a professional.’

Winning Le Mans was his ultimate goal

Jörg Müller, Uwe Alzen, Bob Wollek | Porsche 911 GT1-98 | Michelin | 350 laps (C) John Brooks
Jörg Müller, Uwe Alzen, Bob Wollek | Porsche 911 GT1-98 | Michelin | 350 laps (C) John Brooks

Bob Wollek’s ultimate goal was to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He entered the classic race a total of 30 times from 1968 onwards but, despite finishing as runner-up on four occasions, the Alsatian driver never managed to take top spot. Coming second in the Porsche 911 GT1 ’98 behind his teammates Allan McNish, Laurent Aiello, and Stéphane Ortelli proved a particularly bitter pill to swallow: ‘A compatriot of mine enters Le Mans for the first time and wins.’ 

Ski racer

Aside from motorsport, his second great passion was sport outside the cockpit. As a ski racer, Wollek made it into the French national team. His love of cycling also helped him age more slowly than many other racing drivers, with the racing doctors from the Porsche team terming it the ‘Wollek phenomenon’. He also enjoyed making frequent 600-kilometer trips from Strasbourg to Le Mans on a racing bike. It was only at the age of 57 that he considered retirement, resolving that the 2001 season would be his last.

Fatal bike accident

Wollek had already held advanced discussions regarding a role in the upper echelons of Porsche Motorsport when he suffered a fatal accident in Florida on 16 March 2001. Cycling back to his hotel after a training session prior to the 12 Hours of Sebring, he was struck on the head by the mirror of a passing motorhome. Some fans placed a little monument at the place of the accident, the Hwy US98 in Lorida, close to Sebring, where they remember Bob Wollek and honor him with flowers.



Pictures courtesy Rebocar/R. de Boer, Peter Gloede, John Brooks,  unknown and Porsche AG

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