Fritz Enzinger grew up just a stone’s throw away from the Österreichring—now known as the Red Bull Ring—in Spielberg, Styria, Austria. It was the proximity to that racing circuit and the events that took place there that, according to Enzinger, ignited his tremendous passion for auto racing. Pursuing his calling relentlessly, Enzinger studied mechanical engineering in college and accepted a position at BMW in Germany upon graduation.
After five years in chassis development in Munich, Enzinger progressed to the BMW Motorsport department where he held management positions over projects that included touring cars, sports cars and, eventually, Formula One. He was content with his Head of Sporting Organization role at BMW until the Bavarian automaker pulled out of F1 in 2011. It was at this time that he let his inner circle of friends in the industry know that he was looking for a new job.
By coincidence, just as Enzinger was looking at leaving BMW, Porsche was just about to undertake its effort to return to LMP1—the top class at Le Mans—in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the then yet-to-be-made 919 Hybrid. After a 16-year hiatus from top-level endurance racing, Porsche’s experience curve in this area had disappeared. Starting from scratch, it had to acquire someone with the knowledge and experience to take on this mammoth task. Enzinger was the obvious candidate.
Arriving in Stuttgart in November 2011, Enzinger took up the task at hand with fervor. The burden of living up to the huge expectations for the new Le Mans program at Porsche did not appear to weigh on him. With calm and meticulous dedication, Enzinger assembled a skilled and capable team that he handpicked himself. Even after growing from 15 to 260 members in size, the Porsche LMP1 team still functions superbly.
In 2015, in just the second year of its new Le Mans effort, Porsche scored overall victory at Le Mans and the overall WEC Manufacturers’ Championship. Porsche 919 drivers Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber also brought home the Drivers’ Championship. Winning six out of eight races and starting on the front row for all eight, Porsche’s outstanding performance in LMP1 can partly be attributed to the culture within the team shepherded by Enzinger.
To learn more about what makes Porsche 919 program work and what motivates the man behind it, we recently met with Enzinger in his sparse office in Weissach. The first thing we spotted was a victory laurel from Le Mans hanging on his wall…
Excellence: We can clearly see the ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ is all around you. With a victory at Le Mans achieved one year earlier than targeted, as it were, how does it feel to be stepping into your little office and being greeted by the—albeit wilted—laurel wreath from June 2015?