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Le Mans: Two significant retirements

We know nothing or no-one lasts forever, but during this week we learned of two major figures, both with significant records linked with Le Mans and endurance racing, who have now ended their main working careers.

Firstly from Germany, Audi's engine genius, Dr Ulrich Baretzky, has announced he will be finishing all activities in June.

He has been the father of the Audi engine department since 1986, initially being involved in developing a five-valve, turbo engine under development for a land-speed record car. While the engine for its original purpose was only mildly successful, it was found to be the perfect fit for the 1988 Audi 200 Trans Am.

But having shown his ability, Audi employed him to develop engines for their DTM projects, before they investigated and considered moving their main motorsport activities to prototypes. Starting in 1997, he worked with Audi and also Richard Lloyd's RTN team to develop a turbocharged V8 that was used by both teams and would lead into a period of development which would include the Direct injection technology, and its use in the Bentley project running concurrently.

Other notable developments were the direct injection diesel engine project that was revealed in 2006 and achieved much success, and the hybrid engines, although he was less of a fan of these.

In recent times, with Audi having pulled out of endurance racing in 2016, his time has been spent overseeing the DTM and WRX projects.

The second retirement comes from Stateside, with the news that Corvette Racing's crew chief, Dan Binks, has retired after eighteen years with Pratt Miller.

During that time, he has led them to numerous race and championship wins in the ALMS and IMSA championships, and at Le Mans where they achieved eight class wins.

Always proudly American, he exuded both charm and determination at the same time, respecting his competitors while plotting their downfall. He drilled his team into achieving some of the shortest pitstops in the GT class, giving their drivers every opportunity to exploit this advantage on the road. At the same time, he never forgot a face, often breaking away from work to shake hands with friends and fans alike.

Both gentlemen have written chapters within the sport of endurance racing that will be much respected and cherished.

Thank you for your participation, you deserve our respect.


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