6 min read

Day 11: Racing Machines

A Morning Run

After more than a week, I finally made it out to run this morning. It’s been a few weeks since I stretched my legs. It’ll take me some time to dust off the cobwebs. There’s a solid chance I decide to do a half marathon or even a marathon later this year, so I really need to start getting my base foundation built.

Picking a nice 5k loop around the hotel, I was immediately surprised to discover that there is a small pond right behind the Kaufland grocery store. As I jogged by, I saw a family of geese crowding around an elderly couple feeding them bread. The air was crisp, and just cold enough that I needed some gloves. The route is reasonably hilly for the distance. I discovered a nice park at the top of a hill, with lots of great views of Sindelfingen. I’ve decided this is my new “home” loop for the next 2 weeks.

I’d like to join a running group while I’m here. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

The Porsche Museum

After a hearty, German-style, American-continental breakfast (absolutely delicious), I jumped into the car to head to the Porsche Museum, which sits between Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart, next to the Porsche corporate HQ.

This was my first time visiting the museum. I was definitely not disappointed. Honestly, before this visit, I knew little to nothing about the history of Porsche, other than the fact that founder Ferdinand Porsche was once a key employee at Daimler / Mercedes-Benz, bringing to market some iconic cars for the company (notably: the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK roadster).

I was surprised to learn that Ferdinand Porsche was a big believer in figuring out ways to bring electricity to petrol-powered machines. One of his first automobiles, the Lohner-Porsche "Semper Vivus", is widely considered to be the first operational full hybrid car in history. Growing up, Ferdinand Porsche spent a lot of his school days studying electricity and electrical engineering, famously re-wiring his home much to the chagrin, but eventual amazement, of his father and strapping electric lamps to his ice skates in the winter.

Like his contemporaries Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, Ferdinand Porsche was equivalently an industrialist of the age, seeking to put his innovations into as many modes of transportation and mobility solutions as possible, eventually branching into naval and air transport. Though his involvement with Adolf Hitler providing special designs for transport vehicles and arms for the Nazi Regime is a stain on the company's past, Ferdinand Porsche maintained distance just enough to benefit from the growing regime's economic stability to fund his ongoing development. I'm not here to make an opinion on his decisions and their wider implications, and I'm certainly not claiming I agree that aligning himself to the atrocious government was the only way to ensure his company's success. It is what it is. Today, I was a student of history, learning as much as I could about one of the world's most iconic brands and pioneer in the automotive industry.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the involvement of Emil Jellinek in the growth of Porsche. Like his history in promoting the creations of the predecessors of Mercedes-Benz (granting the name of his first daughter, Mercedes, to what would become an iconic international brand), Jellinek operated as board member of Austro-Daimler, the Austrian arm of Daimler, where Ferdinand Porsche was an engineer. Taking a bet on Porsche, Jellinek took a keen interest in Porsche's career, and helped surface him to the top of Austro-Daimler and later his own brand when the time came. Learning about Emil Jellinek's involvement in not one but two iconic brands, I now want to study this influential French entrepreneur's life more closely. Some can argue Emil Jellinek is the reason why the German automobile industry is what it is today. His relationship with Ferdinand Porsche was a contributing part of the strong family legacy Ferdinand Porsche created through the Porsche and Piech families responsible for Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi.

Departing from industry norm and maintaining its identity to the modern day, Porsche cars uniquely have the ignition on the left of the steering column, as opposed to the right. To explore the Porsche Museum, you start at the bottom and work your way up to trace through the company's history, counter-clockwise. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a dig at cross-town rivals at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

I also have to admit: while I love cars, I can't really call myself a "car guy". Don't get me wrong. I love learning about the in-depth workings of cars, but I learned to appreciate the inner workings of cars rather recently. Growing up, I just got a kick out of sitting in fancy cars, old and new, and pretending I was the driver. Since joining a car company, that too the company responsible for the first automobile, my appreciation for cars extends to new depths.

Seeing a working demo of a boxer engine, first built by Karl Benz (who would have guessed), made me appreciate the craftsmanship of Porsches at a whole new level. Spending time understanding how Porsche took the innovation from Karl Benz to the next level to squeeze out as much performance as possible has now ingrained in me the desire to one day own a Porsche. I've only driven a Porsche once, so I am now figuring out when I can go to the Nürburgring to really experience what these cars were made to do – go absurdly fast.

Overall, today was another great day. Going for a run and exploring the history of another automotive powerhouse and pioneer was a fun way to spend my last day of the 4-day weekend before heading back to work tomorrow.

Frieden und Liebe ❤️ (translation: peace and love)