Out and about with a legend

The dream of every little boy- driving a Porsche 911 Turbo on the legendary Großglockner High Alpine Road

In celebration of the International Porsche Days 2017 in Zell am See-Kaprun, I had the honour to go on a tour with a regional fan passionate about Porsche. The destination of this tour was not just anywhere, in fact we went to highest point along the world-famous Grossglockner High Alpine Road – a wonderful route leading directly into the Hohe Tauern National Park. Could you think of a worthier setting for an excursion with a motorsports legend?

Early Meeting and great excitement

Sigi Mariacher greets me in front of his Hotel Barbarahof in Kaprun. Crouching like a big cat ready to pounce, his black treasure is parked right in front of the hotel entrance. Sigi welcomes me with a big friendly smile. The excitement about the joint tour is not only written all over my face. Just a quick coffee at the Barbarahof while we discuss the milestones of the tour and then we are off - Sigi can’t wait to get on the road.

Sigi - First, thank you for the joint tour. I am excited like a little boy. Since when have you been a Porsche fan?

Not surprisingly, actually since I was a little boy. No-one talked about a sportscar when I was a boy, it was always a Porsche. The name Porsche was a synonym for fast cars of which you could only dream of. Growing up in the Zell am See-Kaprun region, I have learned a lot about the history of my dream cars. Mr Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, constructor of the Porsche Design Studios in Zell am See and creator of the legendary 911 series, for example, was a regular at the Barbarahof, our hotel and family business. I had always my dream of a 911 right in front of me. Finally, when I turned 38, my dream came true, taking place of pride in my garage.

How many Porsches have you now? How old is this one and what model is this Porsche?

This is my sixth Porsche and it is seven years old. I know, it doesn‘t look its age because it is well looked after (Sigi laughs). We are sitting in a top model of the 911 series. The power of 500 horses works in the rear and, you will see in a minute, pushes the car almost limitless in the only right direction - forward. The Bi-Turbo engine of this model is water-cooled while many of the classic engines had air cooling systems. Many say that the water-cooled engines do not produce the original, typical sound of the air-cooled Porsche 911 to 993 models. I say: whatever cooling system, the sound of this baby goes directly to your stomach the minute this turbo engine gets going. This is something you must have experienced; the engine torque is brutal; the thrust seems endless. Just awesome.

You seem to know the technical details of your car very well. Do you work on it yourself?

Not anymore, but I am still very interested in the mechanics. I used to drive rallies myself. We used to do a lot of things on the cars ourselves back then when engines and cars had not so much technology inside and we knew what we were doing. In fact, we often had no other option but to deal with things ourselves. Today, I am mainly interested in the technical details around the car and I want to know everything. I do no longer drive rallies but I am a huge motorsports fan and try to gain knowledge of all aspects in this area.

What fascinates you most on the Porsche legend? Have you ever tried a Ferrari?

Of course, I have but I never felt the need to own a Ferrari. I love sports cars by I will stick with the Porsche brand. And I have never owned anything but a 911. Not that the other models are not good but my passion is the 911. What fascinates me the most is not something I can limit to a few points. It is a combination of many things. The precision, the art of engineering, the modern technology, the fun of driving, the passion and the image of motorsports – to me, Porsche is ALL this. The company manages again and again to reinvent itself and sets new technical benchmarks with every new series. A car manufacturer who can do this has got what it takes to become a legend.

Which routes in our Zell am See-Kaprun region do you think are the most beautiful and what are your most favourite routes for going a drive in your Porsche?

Well, we are on one of the country’s most beautiful pass roads right now. The tour to the Grossglockner, especially in combination with the Felbertauern road in East Tyrol, is one of THE highlights for me and is one of the routes I like most. The many curves and bends make you feel like being on the Col de Turrini, the world-famous special stage of the Rallye Monte Carlo, on which I have been driving once with my Porsche as a personal and driving technique highlight. As an alpine contrast to the glaciers of the Hohe Tauern, I love the tour to the Hochkönig especially. The curves at the Filzen Saddle between Maria Alm and Dienten are very cool to drive and the views to the Hochkönig limestone walls fascinate me time and again. This year’s International Porsche Days in Zell am See-Kaprun offer something very special. A road that is always closed to the public will be opened for this event especially. The Verbund GmbH opens the narrow service road to the Kaprun High-Mountain Reservoirs for this event only. The curves and narrow tunnels leading uphill into the Kaprun Valley are just awesome and, as a highlight, 170 of the most beautiful Porsches will park together on the Mooserboden Dam – I really look forward to that!

As you just mentioned, the International Porsche days in Zell am See-Kaprun will be staged soon. what other highlights are you looking forward to?

As a true Porsche fan, I am involved in the event from the start. Our hotel, the Barbarahof in Kaprun, has been a partner company of the Porsche Days since 2012. I mostly look forward to my regulars and the great time we spend together during the Porsche Days. I like the excursions and the sociable atmosphere during this fantastic time. I am always happy when I can show our guests the most beautiful roads in our unique region. And when these guests also share the same passion as me then I feel especially privileged.

What are your plans for the near future?

I continue driving Porsche. As member of the Salzburg Porsche Club, there are always great opportunities for me to be out and about with like-minded people and to enjoy the dream of sporty driving. Actually, my biggest wish is a Porsche Club in Zell am See. I have been working on this idea with like-minded people for some years now. But it is not an easy undertaking as there is just one Porsche Club per federal state. But I don’t give up as it would be something very special to have a Porsche Club in the Zell am See-Kaprun region. The Porsche legend is just as much part of Zell am See as the Schmittenhöhe and Lake Zell, and we should pay tribute to this deserving brand.

Sigi, Thank you very much for an exciting tour. It was great talking to you. . I still feel quite alright and not queasy at all. Be honest, did you really drive as fast as you acrually can?

Okay, to be honest, we didn’t even start to enjoy all my friend can do. This car has much more to offer. But maybe you come along again and then we see what can be done!

If you too can’t get enough of the Porsche legend, then come to the International Porsche Days from 7th – 10th September 2017 in the Zell am See-Kaprun region. If you check in at the Hotel Barbarahof in Kaprun, then you can personally listen to Sigi’s cool stories, and who knows, he might even open the passenger door of his black Porsche 911 Turbo for you.