Safety is his job, motorsport his passion
Jürgen Freiburg has been car-mad since he was young. The Head of Safety & Health at thyssenkrupp Bilstein caught the motorsport bug from friends. Now 52, he regularly takes part in the endurance championships at the Nürburgring circuit and has also taken to the track in several 24-hour races. Naturally always true to the motto: Safety first!
thyssenkrupp Bilstein as a partner
Jürgen was already familiar with the well-known automotive supplier before his first personal encounter with thyssenkrupp Bilstein. At a tuning event in Hockenheim he was invited to cooperate with the company, yet Jürgen declined. However, thanks to a persistent thyssenkrupp employee, the motorsport ace was ultimately won over by the vehicle’s telemetry data. That was the start of a longstanding partnership.
From hobby to employer
Several years later the hobby racing driver visited the Bilstein workshop in Ennepetal to perform routine damper set-up work for the upcoming six-hour race at the Nürburgring. While he was there he was told about the position at Occupational Safety & Health – but initially declined. “From a three-minute drive to a 40-minute drive? No way!” But he didn’t want to snub his cooperation partner completely so he agreed to a relaxed get-to-know-you chat – and ultimately to take on the job. “It’s great to see that the topic of health & safety is given such priority and importance at a company.”
He was quickly won over by the passion of the employees and how strongly they identify with the brand. “You can ring these people up at night and they know exactly where their Bilstein T-shirt is,” says the ambitious employee. Jürgen is particularly delighted to be working with people who are as passionate about cars as he is.
One team – many tasks
Both at thyssenkrupp and in racing teams, diversity, team spirit and open communication are valued highly. In the same way as at a company, there are a wide variety of tasks to be performed in racing teams and they are all important in their own right: Mechanics who complete technical checks before and during the race. Strategists who measure times and develop the right race strategy. Organizers who filter the most important information the driver needs for the race and pit stops. But also many other team members who handle tire changes, fueling and team radio setup. “Not to mention the kind souls who cater to our creature comforts and keep reminding me to eat enough soup and get plenty to drink before the start,” says Jürgen with a grin.
Safety from the get-go
In his hobby and everyday working life, safety has always been a key focus. “It has always been very important to me that we wear the right protective gear when working on the car and that we approach every task calmly as otherwise mistakes can easily happen.” It’s a hobby after all, so the most important thing is that it should be fun. In motorsport and in his work at thyssenkrupp it’s always a matter of considering which aspects might present hazards and managing them in such a way that the risks are acceptable and above all calculable.
Highest safety standards
It is important to the hobby driver that his racing car represents the technical state of the art and not just the minimum requirements when it comes to safety. He attaches great importance to a welded roll cage, safety fuel tank and the appropriate personal gear. “When I get in the car I make sure my mind is clear. What can be done beforehand gets done in good time and not at the last minute.” And safety before victory is his racing tactic. “Tactical foresight” is how Jürgen describes his strategy. In the first few laps he keeps his distance and responds accordingly as the race plays out.
With regard to safety, the same applies on the racetrack and at thyssenkrupp: If everyone looks out for each other and acts with foresight, remaining risks can be minimized. So the commitment of all colleagues is critical to ensuring a healthy and as far as possible accident-free company.