On Friday, March 19th, 2021, legendary Canadian racer Ludwig Heimrath passed away. I only crossed paths with him twice in my life thirty years apart.
As a car-crazy kid, I was lucky enough to grow up in the Wexford neighbourhood of Scarborough. A five-minute bike ride up to Lawrence Ave was Heimrath Porsche. In 1984 at the age of 10, me and the local bicycle gang would ride up there at least once a week. Heimrath Porsche had a bunch of cars boulevard-parked in the dealership lot out front. We’d carelessly dump our bicycles on the sidewalk, inches from 944s and 911s without care or concern. We’d imagine we were customers browsing the aisles of Stuttgart’s finest machinery. But you had to be careful, because if the boss was there, he’d scream at us to get away from his cars. He’d let you have it!
Thirty years on, I met Heimrath again in 2014 when I brought my SVX to a lapping day at Mosport’s big circuit. Lots of Mustangs and Mazdas running around the track that day. I got my Subaru up to 180 km/h on the Mario Andretti straight and was just scared to death of the 20+ year old suspension failing. That car was my ride home!
Afterwards, waiting in the pit lane, a Porsche 911 GT2 came rumbling in from the circuit, smoke coming out of its brake ducts. The passenger’s side door opened and a tourist who’d been on a ‘hot lap’ thrill ride climbed out, took off his helmet and tried not to throw up. The motion sickness was too much for him. Then out the driver’s door pops Ludwig Heimrath. He was pushing 80 years old, but could still hustle a Porsche around better than anyone else at the track. I went up to him and said something like ‘…hey, I know you…you used to chase me away from your dealership with a garden hose when I was a kid…’ and he just laughed and shook his head while walking away.