LUDWIG HEIMRATH, Mosport meister, repeat winner of the track’s first major races including the Player’s 200 and Pepsi-Cola Grand Prix (under-two-litre class), three-time Canadian champion, winner of the 1977 SCCA Trans Am series over American Porsche ace Peter Gregg, died of pancreatic cancer March 19, 2021.
He never really retired. At 86, he intended racing his GT3 Porsche this summer — as well as commemorating the high point in his career by racing his Trans Am-winning 934.5 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in August at the invitation of its present owners. He’d have turned 87 a few days before his star turn at Laguna Seca Raceway.
In my first year in Toronto as a Ryerson journalism student, I turned up uninvited at his garage, offering to hang out and help in any way I could. He told me to get lost.
In his own words he “walked with a stick,” when he arrived in Toronto from Germany on Feb. 13, 1956, after months in hospital from a crash racing an Adler motorcycle. But he found employment at Volkswagen Canada and three years later began racing a Porsche-powered Volkswagen created by Ernst Piëch, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, who’d been sent to Volkswagen Canada to gain experience. “I didn’t know he was related to Ferdinand,” Heimrath recounted. “He was just Ernie to me.”
Has any racer completed as many laps of Mosport? Almost certainly not, for Heimrath raced and won at the track’s first weekend of club racing, two weeks before the inaugural Player’s 200, and was still racing last year — along with giving rides in his GT2 to anyone who asked at protégé Billy Smilovsky’s Engineered Automotive monthly track days.
He saw the world through the red mist of a man intent on winning, never just finishing. When I surreptitiously timed him in the GT2 and told him he had just lapped faster than he had in the winning RS 60 in 1961, he painstakingly detailed how he would have been five seconds faster without me in the passenger seat.
We had gotten off to a rocky start decades earlier. In my first year in Toronto as a Ryerson journalism student, I turned up uninvited at his garage, offering to hang out and help in any way I could. He told me to get lost.
Years later, after he knew me as a reporter and vintage racer, Heimrath refused to sell me a Recaro seat required by VARAC’s latest regulations, instead loaning me one for the season. Always irascible, famous for scolding customers at his Porsche dealership on Lawrence Avenue, Heimrath was known to support and encourage young racers, Scott Goodyear among them.
Our friendship blossomed after I wrote a story for PCA Panorama magazine in 2014, “Ludwig the Loud,” recounting his triumph over Gregg. I photographed him wearing one of four head dresses he won at BEMC Indian Summer Trophy Races at his cottage on Stoney Lake, in March, two weeks before his passing. </>