Joerg Bergmeister and Porsche – it’s been a constant in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron since 2002. For more than half of his ALMS career, Bergmeister’s erstwhile partner in Porsches has been Patrick Long. So as the tall German’s 100th ALMS start approaches, there is no one better to salute him than Long, who has been a part of three of Bergmeister’s five ALMS GT championships…
There’s no one quicker at getting up to speed and pushing for lap times every single session of the weekend than Joerg. He’s a master on the technical side and he can drive a car that’s outside the window of handling better than most; he can take a sub par, unbalanced car and put on the edge like no one I’ve ever seen.
But there are some times when that catches him out! My first race in 2005 at Sebring, Lucas (Luhr), Joerg and I were driving together. It was raining, and we all decided to take it easy on the car because there was no forecast for rain for the race. In typical fashion, Joerg went out there hauling it and the team kept getting on the radio telling to take it easy and that he was easily the quickest car on the track; we just needed to shake the car down. He came in, and we asked him how the car was. He said everything was good and he was taking it easy.
The photo on the front page of the Sebring paper the next day was of him spinning down the frontstretch through all the cones at the pit exit and bowling them all over. You can see his helmet clear as day! We all came in that morning and asked him, ‘So you were taking it easy, right?’ But that was classic Joerg. He’s always on the gas and rarely makes mistakes. If you’re not on your game, it’ll be highlighted because he’s always on his.
You have to be almost obsessed with a certain subject to be a master at it. You have to have a passion for it in order to be the best. Joerg is completely captivated by the engineering side of things. He’s very detailed and likes to break down anything in life. The mechanics and physics of engineering and how the race car works makes him passionate about the engineering side of things. There are times when he’ll question something to the team and very well might be dealt with in a different way or not dealt with at all. It’s extremely detailed and knowledgeable and educated from the engineering side.
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is Saturday, July 7. The two-hour, 45-minute race is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET from the 1.5-mile, eight-turn Lime Rock Park circuit. ESPN2’s broadcast featuring live coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET. Full coverage is available starting at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3.