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Vasek Polak

Vasek Polak
By Rolf Sprenger

In memory and respect of Vasek Polak
Los Angeles, CA.

Left to right: Rolf Sprenger, Vasek Polak, Jack McAfee, Warren Eads, Jim Rinker
Jim Rinker did the restoration on a car that Jack McAfee drove and this was a get together/reunion of those involved.

I met Vasek Polak in 1971 in the Porsche Factory in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. At the time I was newly appointed to the service and Sports Parts Sales Department. My Superior, Herman Briem, who worked as a technical advisor in the USA in the 50's, introduced me to a very friendly gentleman of about 50 years of age.

"Mr. Sprenger, may I introduce you to Mr. Vasek Polak, he is our most efficient Porsche Dealer in the USA".

Of course I was pleased to be introduced to our guest, and friend. What was supposed to be a short introduction, turned out to be a 2 hour visit. Mr. Polak's life story, and career, was not only very interesting, but also a story of great success and not at all common. I immediately realized that this man was both a Porsche Enthusiast and expert in his field, who had done a lot to promote the Porsche product in the USA.

A few days later, Mr. Hermann Briem showed me some pictures from his time spent in the USA, which showed Vasek as a technican, working on a 550 Spyder and a 356 Carrera, 4 Nockenwellen Motor, (also known as a Fuhrman Motor). It was obvious that Vasek was THE Porsche Expert and a "Jack of all Trades", full of liveliness and character. He was never at a loss of words to solve a technical or other problem, and not easily fooled. He knew what he was doing.

I liked this man. He was a self made man, active and full of ideas, and I looked forward to seeing him again on his next visit to the factory. I asked Mr. Hermann Briem, and also Johanna Baer, to inform me of the next time Mr. Vasek Polak came to visit us. They promised me they would, but this turned out not to be as easy as I thought. Mr. Polak visited the Factory several times a year, but never made an appointment in advance, except to see Prof. Dr. Ferry Porsche himself.

With Vasek, it was like this: He would knock on the door, and with a big smile, he would apologize for the interruption, and offer to come back at a later time when it was convenient. You could not get mad at him. I would invite him in, and enjoy his company.

Conversation with Vasek Polak was always highly interesting, not a superficial exchange of pleasantries, but meaningful "Porsche" dialogue. Vasek would inform us about his Dealership, the overall economy, his future plans and expectations, and a back up plan if necessary.

We discussed Porsche customers, their present and future expectations. After all of the events since his last visit were discussed, we always came back to talk about "Motorsport". This was one of his passions, or should I say "weaknesses". He was not only a great business man, but a committed "Porscheman".

Vasek had his own, very successful race team. His goal was to promote Porsche USA Rennsport and to help young talented drivers. In his youth, Vasek had raced in his own country, first a motorcycle (engl. Rudge), then later a Fiat Racecar.

Occasionally he would introduce one of his young race car drivers to the Porsche personnel. It was always with the highest respect, he would speak of Prof. F. Porsche and the important Mangers of the Company, like Prof. Fuhrman, Hellmuth Bott and Heinz Branitzky.

Vasek was always at home in the Development, Race, Repair and Parts Departments of the Weissach Operation. Everybody loved him and liked the way he conducted his business. There was nothing he was not interested in, and he was full of knowledge.

Of course Mr. Polak could also show some anger, but never did he personally hurt or attack you. Just defend his cause with a vengeance. Vasek was always diplomatic with a sense of humor. He knew exactly what he wanted, and in most cases got it. "The poor little Porsche Dealer from California."

Over the years we visited each other often, and I visited him in Hermosa Beach. We became very good friends, and to me he represented a fatherly friendship figure. We stayed in touch via phone over the years, and saw each other at Porsche meetings, parties, new product Introductions, and automobile shows.

I always looked forward to these meetings, and Vasek's story telling and sense of humor fascinated everyone.

Vasek was a well liked visitor and friend to the Porsche Factory and the Porsche family. This was especially true for our popular and respected leader, Prof. Dr. Ferry Porsche, his wife, as even their sons. They also appreciated and respected Vasek for his dedication to the Porsche name.

Although I could tell many wonderful episodes and stories about Vasek and me, I will just keep them as fond memories.

He had many friends, and we all were shocked and saddened by his tragic accident. I went to see my friend in Regensburg the day of the accident. He was badly hurt, and even with all the excellent care he received in the hospital in Regensburg, he passed away 4 weeks later.

I personally have many reasons to be thankful to have known him. With his death all of us at Porsche lost a great "Porscheaner" and friend. We will always hold him in our dearest memory.

Weissach Juli 2004

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