On 7 January 2018, Ulli Upietz, the well-known Porsche photographer and founder of the publishing company Gruppe C Verlag, passed away after an illness. Over four decades, he made a name for himself all over the world as a motorsport photographer and initiated many book publications and annuals that are still published successfully today.
It was race driver Rolf Stommelen, with whom he often played tennis, who sparked Ulli Upietz’s interest in motorsport. He occasionally accompanied Rolf Stommelen to races, and it was here that he started taking photographs. Soon, these images were published in magazines and newspapers, marking the start of Ulli Upietz’s career as a photographer.
Already in his youth, Ulli Upietz was fascinated by Porsche scale models. This led to the ‘Porsche Modellauto Club’ which was set up in 1978 and the first book publication followed – Porsche: Toys and Miniatures Design Studies and Wind Tunnel Models, is a reference work still very much sought after by collectors worldwide. With the publication of this first book, Ulli Upietz already proved to be a perfectionist, for whom only the very best was just good enough.
It was while on a long-haul flight home after a Group C World Championship round, that Upietz and renowned motor racing journalist Gustav Büsing, came up with the idea for the first yearbook which resulted in the publication of the first World Sportscar Racing book in 1989. The fascinating sports cars of the 1980s, in which Porsche played such a major role, also gave their name to the newly-founded publishing company, Gruppe C. The inaugural Porsche Sport yearbook followed in 1993, and this marked the start of a range of annuals that still exists today.
But it was endurance racing that Upietz loved in particular, and over the years he attended one hundred 24-hour races as a photographer, including 40 years of coverage at the Le Mans 24 Hours which was always a highlight for him.
On his return from Le Mans in 2005, he had a heart attack, the consequences of which stayed with him until his passing. Until halfway through last year, he was still working at the race track as a photographer, and despite his illness, he was full of new ideas and plans for book and photo projects till the very end. Back in 2006, he had already entrusted the publishing company to his three sons Sven, Tim and Björn, who have since continued the work for which their father had laid the foundation.
We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family at this difficult time.
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Archive