However, Mass was familiar with the Bellof family long before Stefan’s motor sport exploits.
“Stefan was the son of another German racer [Georg] who I raced against already on the European hill climb circuit and things like that,” he says.
“I liked Georg – he was a bit older than me. So when the son came and drove for Porsche, it was with good reason because he was quick and was the upcoming new talent.”
After success in the junior formula, Bellof blew onto the world sportscar scene like a hurricane, winning three races during his debut season as Porsche works team-mate to Derek Bell, setting some stunning lap records in the process.
He set pole by almost 2sec on his victorious debut at Silverstone, and then posted that famous Nürburgring time during the race, chopping 4sec off the lap record with a 6min 11.130sec – still the official lap record!
“The possibility of what could be done with a 956 only became clear when Stefan got into one,” his former FFord team boss Walter Lechner told Mark Hughes in 2000.
“It was like climbing a mountain making it go really quick, because its ground effect meant unless you really pushed the car it just understeered. Logic would say you needed to lift off but if you stayed hard on the throttle it would stick to the track. He realised this immediately and the established guys — Ickx, Mass, Stuck, Wollek — were left behind.”