Le Mans

This topic contains 45 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Martin 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #4141

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Two pictures from the 1971 24H, although the Porsches featured could not be more different. First up are a pair of 911S models, No.36 of Chenevière/Waldegard and No.39 of Verrier/Foucault. The former started from 34th and finished 13th and the latter rose from 48th to 11th, their positions netting them 7th and 5th in class respectively. Remarkably, of the thirteen finishers that year ten were Porsches and 911’s occupied 6th and 8th to 13th places, quite a result for road car-based entries.

    Taking part in the same race as the 911’s, this 917LH (#045) was unable to match their staying power and after pitting for extensive rear suspension repairs it retired after 14 hours due to oil loss from a cracked gearbox casing, a persistent 917 problem. Driven by Siffert/Bell from a grid 3rd, this was the only outing for this particular long-tail model, one of three (two Gulf and one Martini) used in the race that year.

    With the spatted rear wheels, a blunted nose and an advanced rear wing they looked very different to the short-tailed 917K versions that finished 1st and 2nd  and were reminiscent of the original 908-style 917s, although unlike those initial cars a lot of work had been put into designing and then refining their bodywork. This had been carried out in Paris by Charles Deutsch, the French aerodynamicist whose DB and CD cars had used wind-cheating coachwork to maximise the performance from their small engines. Three new body styles had been tried at the Le Mans test weekend in advance of the main event and this type, along with the one-off 917-20 ‘Pig’, proved to be the most effective.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Martin.
  • #4144

    Martin
    Keymaster

    The well-known 908/2K (#022) used by Solar Productions for filming the 1970 event to gain footage for the Le Mans film is seen at the circuit. In this view the size of the camera housing is evident and it makes you think about its effect on visibility and aerodynamics. The fact that the car -which had a conventional competition career before and after this- still managed to finish 9th and only just missed being classified is a credit to Herbert Linge/Jonathan Williams in view of the extra pit stops required to change the camera for one with a fresh magazine of film.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Martin.
  • #4147

    Martin
    Keymaster

    If that young chap had stood slightly to the right we would have had a better view of this 550A coupe (#104) in the pit lane in 1956. As it is we can still make out many of the details of this interesting variant, one of two entered by the factory that year. This one was conducted by von Trips/von Frankenberg to a 5th overall and 1st in class among the 14 survivors from the 50 starters in a year that saw only five Porsches take part.

    We can see the car again back at the rather rural team base for the event, along with its sister (#105). This impromptu snap captures the rare sight of the fastback bodywork detached from the cars and they were only raced in closed form on this single occasion. Note too the rare fitment of wire wheels on the 356 Speedster.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Martin.
  • #5004

    Martin
    Keymaster

    1985 and the grimy Ickx/Bell 956 (#005) is receiving attention of various sorts plus a driver change on its way to 2nd overall after starting from pole. It finished on the same lap as the winning Rothmans team car and lapped quicker, 956’s filling the top ten apart from a Sauber in 9th (although their time would come).

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

    The result that year also provided a cue for one of the most memorable Porsche advertisements:

  • #5005

    Martin
    Keymaster

    With quite an elaborate paint job for a racing car -where the finish is usually relatively simple to facilitate any repairs- this 934 is seen competing in 1978. Entered by ‘Ségolen’ for himself and fellow Frenchmen Christian Bussi and Jean-Claude Briavoine the car qualified 52nd and finished 17th (and last, although 55 cars started), winning its class. As we can see from the entrant, who was actually André Gahinet, the Italians did not have a monopoly on drivers racing under single word nicknames.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5006

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Porsche entered a number of different models at Le Mans in 1967 and this is the 907LH (#003) of Rindt/Mitter. Qualifying 22nd it retired with camshaft failure on lap 103 of 388 and Ford and Ferrari took the top four places, works 907, 910 and 906 models following them home.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5012

    Martin
    Keymaster

    This 928S (#840225) is shown in 1983 when it qualified 52nd and while it was still running at the finish it was not classified due to being 236(!) laps behind the winning 956. The car was not really a suitable endurance racer, although preparer, entrant and driver Raymond Boutinaud used it at Le Mans again the following year to claim 22nd and last place from a grid 53rd, having outlasted the 31 cars that had retired.

    Aside from a few other outings in 1983/4 that was that for this interesting if unrewarded effort, although the car is still in Boutinaud’s ownership and is displayed in its 1984 livery at his Paris independent Porsche specialists. Raymond Boutinaud Racing was established in 1980 and is built on his (now 45) years of Porsche race and rally experience.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

    • #5297

      Martin
      Keymaster

      Here is the above car before the start of the 1984 race in the livery which it still wears today.

      Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5031

    Martin
    Keymaster

    A Porsche/Ferrari battle takes place in 1977. Ahead at this stage is the French 934/5 entered by Hubert Striebig for himself and Guy Chasseuil/Hughes Kirschoffer with the support of BP France, a non finisher due to an engine problem after starting from a grid 33rd. Just nosing into the picture is the US NART (but also French crewed) Ferrari 365 that finished 16th from a grid 48th, a 936 winning the event for Porsche

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5073

    Martin
    Keymaster

    At the time when this picture was taken in 1983 this livery was more familiar on single seaters, although it is quite effective when used on a big sports racing car. This is the 956 (#104) that the multi-national crew of Johansson/Ludwig/Wollek took to 6th from a grid 5th, a Joest car (although sometimes entered by Sorga SA, as here) that raced extensively for the team for four sesasons under a variety of sponsors. It had three Le Mans outings, although this was the most successful.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5075

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Taken in 1971, when this 917K (#026/031) came home 2nd in the hands of Attwood/Muller, the addition of the long and tall tail fins can clearly be seen. There were introduced for the 1971 season in conjunction with a slightly lengthened tail and were intended to address the issue of air turbulence in that area.

    They were not used on the Gulf and Martini cars in all races however and are a little reminiscent of the fins added to the rear wings of the works 550s for Le Mans in 1957. Ther are seen here on the Barth/Maglioli 718RSK (#001) that retired due to an accident.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5080

    Martin
    Keymaster

    At the factory press launch -which looks to be a pretty low-key affair- of their 1980 Le Mans works team, the sheet is lifted to reveal one of the three car team of 924 Carrera GT’s. With each of the cars projected to be crewed by a different national pairing it didn’t turn out quite like that for this nominally American entry, as Briton Derek Bell had to partner Al Holbert after Peter Gregg was injured in a road accident in France.

    The above car turned in the quickest performance of the team in practice, qualifying some ten places ahead of the best of its two German and British team mates seen below. These cars were respectively 6th and 12th in the race with the US entry 13th after all of the cars were struck by a technical problem which almost caused the retirement of all three. The outing was intended to raise the profile and sporting credentials of the 924 range and the result must still have done the production model no harm at all.

    Here is No.3 during the race, looking rather less immaculate.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

    • #5339

      Martin
      Keymaster

      The sparse crowd and clean bodywork implies that this picture might have been taken in practice. The 924 Carrera GT’s were listed in the programme as 924 Carrera Turbos and this one was the fastest qualifier of the group by far, taking 34th on the grid. The striking livery, incorporating a different national flag for each car, was the work of a Briton working in the Porsche design department.

      Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5090

    Martin
    Keymaster

    A Gendarme keeps an eye on the competitors as they speed through the Esses at Le Mans in 1961. Behind the Briggs Cunningham Maserati Typo 60 (which finished 8th) we see the 718 coupe (#046) of Gurney/Bonnier, which retired on lap 262 of the 333 in a year that was something of an Ferrari benefit. Engine trouble put the car out and at this time it was still fitted with the 1.7L four cylinder unit although an upgrade to a 2.0L flat eight was planned.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

     

  • #5100

    Martin
    Keymaster

    With Herbert Müller looking like some sort of spaceman in his silver suit -he often drove Posches but was sharing the Matra shown on this occasion- the 908/2 (#028/014) of Siffert/Redman is pushed past in the pit lane at Le Mans in 1969. Although entered by prolific Porsche competitors the Hart Ski Racing Team the car had works drivers and -as we can see here- factory mechanics along with the same identifying coloured nose as the two factory 908 coupes, so looks to have been a works entry in all but name.

    It qualified 3rd behind the pair of factory 917’s but succumbed to an early gearbox failure on only lap 60. With effectively five works cars Porsche were certainly looking for outright victory that year, but it was a JW-Gulf GT40 that cheated them of that by the narrowest of margins. However, Porsche took the manufacturers championship that season and would not have long to wait before that important first Le Mans victory would come their way.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5129

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Seen prior to the start of the 1980 race, this is the Kremer 935K3/80 (#9306700163) of Stommelen/Plankenhorn/Ikuzawa that was 6th fastest in qualifying (although it ended up 3rd on the grid) but it retired with a head gasket problem after 167 of the 339 laps. Note the smart 935 jacket worn by the chap on the right advertising one of the sponsors of another of the Kremer 935’s in the race.

    That 935K3/80 (#00011) was in the pit next door and can be seen here behind the car pictured above, this colour view allowing us to see the striking liveries of both entries. This car also failed to finish -due to piston failure- and had qualified 8th in the hands of Field/Ongais/Lafosse. Fifteen of the 55 qualifiers were 935’s, one of them setting pole.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5172

    Martin
    Keymaster

    If you have ever spectated from the stand opposite the pits at Le Mans during the night -and probably even if you haven’t- this photograph will evoke the atmosphere of the event during the hours of darkness. Taken in 1971, it shows the 917K (#026) of Attwood/Müller on its way to second place, two laps behind another 917 from the Martini stable. It was tantalisingly close to a second consecutive win for the Briton, but that’s motor racing!

    Having already been rebuilt using the frame of #031 (but renumbered #026) after an accident that put it out of Le Mans the previous year, after this race it was converted to a spyder for the Boeri team to use in Interserie. Next passing to Vasek Polak, he converted it back to JW-Gulf coupe specification, so as this abridged history shows once again some 917s had many lives.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5174

    Martin
    Keymaster

    As it is Le Mans weekend, here is a further diverse selection of pictures from this ultimate of circuits.

    While we don’t know anything about the happy couple pictured in front of this 908LH (#013) we do know that it was a Swiss entry in 1972 from Siffert/ATE Racing which Reinhold Joest (whatever happened to him?!) shared with Michel Weber and Mario Casoni. Qualifying 10th they were the fastest of the six privately-entered 908’s on the grid and they came in a very respectable 3rd behind two of the factory Matras. There were no works Porsches entered that year, just eighteen from private teams and a 911 of one of them can just be seen in the background.

     

    This is one of the three works 936s (#001) that the factory sent in 1978 and one of two of those that were of 936/78 specification. It was also the most successful of the trio, coming home 2nd from a grid 4th in the experienced hands of Wollek/Barth/Ickx. However the car was beaten by one of the four Alpines by five laps.


    While in recent times Porsche has applied completely different colour schemes to its team cars at Le Mans to differentiate one from another, in the past a panel of a contrasting colour was used or the same colour scheme applied to each car in a different way. In the case of these 936s a red, white or blue rear wing was used.

     

    An all French crew -Bertapelle/Perrier (the entrant)/Salam- took this pink 934 (#9306700157) to victory in the GT class in 1981 and also to 17th overall. This was not a bad result at all after qualifying 53rd, even if they were the penultimate car home.

     

    Looking to have been taken some way into the 1983 race due to the badly abraded leading edge of the nose, this is the Kremer 956 (#101) of Andretti/Andretti/Alliot on their way to 3rd overall after starting 8th. Instead of the usual Kremer strip across the top of the windscreen -as was carried by their CK5 in the race- this car bears the name Sonauto. They were the French Porsche importer from 1950 and still have five Porsche centres in France, although they have been wholly-owned by Porsche since the late 1990s. It was Sonauto owner Auguste Veuillet who took that historic first Porsche class win (and 20th overall) at Le Mans in 1951 using a factory-entered 356SL.

     

    This picture could almost have been posed given the attitudes of people in the background and while it shows the Le Mans pits the scene was shot in 1970 during one of the test days that used to take place a couple of months prior to the main event.

    The car -with its taped on number plate- belongs to the well-known entrant Andre Wicky of Lausanne and is the 907 (#031) that the company raced widely from 1970 to 1973. On this occasion it was driven by Daniel Rouveyran and was the 6th fastest of the sixteen cars present, although in the subsequent race it qualified 29th of 56 but failed to finish. The 907 was a good looking car and this example was the only one racing at Le Mans that year, having previously been used by the Spanish Escuderia Nacional team.

     

    In a pre-race shot from 1980 we see the national flag of this team being used to keep the heat off this 935 K3 (#009 0005, based on 9307700911) and its sister car entered by Racing Associates Inc. (USA), as the clock shows that there is a while to go before the start. Driven by Aiken/Miller/Kent-Cook this car qualified 29th but did not finish due to a driveshaft problem that took it out on lap 237. Its team mate alongside (#009 0016) had even less luck, retiring after an accident caused by a spin on only lap 9, although it had qualified 22nd.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5180

    Martin
    Keymaster

    A light shower of rain is the prelude to the beginning of Le Mans 1961 and ready to race is the 718 RS61 coupe (#045) of Herrmann/Barth. The car practiced 22nd fastest but in the race was 7th home and 2nd in class, the second Porsche to finish in what was very much a Ferrari year.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5201

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Looking remarkably different to the following Group C Porsche in 1986 -although sharing its engine and brakes- I well remember this 961 (#WP0ZZZ93ZFS010016) for its consistency and lack of drama throughout the race. Driven to an amazing 7th overall out of the 19 finishers from a grid 26th and vanquishing many Group C cars in the process, Ballot-Lena and Metge also took the four wheel drive car to a GTX class win by virtue of being the only starter. The 961 finished 47 laps behind the winning 962 and the only non-Porsche in the top ten that year was a Gebhardt in 8th.

    Although based on the 959 road car only a single 961 was made due to the FIA reconstituting the Group B regulations between the development and realisation of the project, a story not unknown in motor racing. While this killed any chance of customer sales (as did the projected $325,000 price in the US!), Porsche still used the car in three races and a couple of Le Mans test days so as to get something out of the venture. Racing for Porsche has always been about beating others rather than just winning and with no opposition to compete against further entries were curtailed. Today the car resides in their Museum, an interesting contrast to the successful 4WD endurance rally cars but nothing like as well known.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5288

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Seen in 1956 passing the wrecked Monopole X88 (No.50) and Stanguellini S750 (No.52) is the works 550RS Coupe (#0104) of von Frankenberg/von Trips. The other two cars were damaged in accidents ten laps apart while the 550 managed to stay out of trouble and score a fine 5th overall and 1st in class, headed only by bigger cars from Jaguar, Aston Martin and Ferrari.

    Only two of these coupe versions were built and after being used solely for this race (the other car retired with an engine problem) their detachable tops were discarded and they reverted to being normal 550’s. The 1956 regulations had called for full-width windscreens and this made Porsche think about how best to achieve aerodynamic efficiency, so they came up with a similar coupe design to that which they had successfully used in 1953. Although having much the same proportions as the earlier cars they incorporated a number of significant differences and as can be seen from the condition of the car in the picture the race was a very wet one, the rain and mist during the night contributing to a number of crashes. Being in a closed car may have saved the drivers from a soaking, although at the expense of their being subjected to greater noise and heat.

    Back in normal form the car was sold to an American owner later that year and raced extensively, but it was damaged in a towing accident in 1958 and sold again. Having acquired the rather crudely reshaped car the next owner commissioned a new and more aerodynamic body to be built locally and incorporated a number of mechanical changes. This gave the car a very non-Porsche appearance but it was certainly not unattractive and it competed with some success before changing hands in 1959 and again in 1960. After the engine suffered a major failure -and such failures on these reliable cars were often caused by driver error- the car was sold in 1963 minus its power unit and the new owner decided that using a Chevrolet Corvair air-cooled flat six would be a cheaper way to get it racing again and perhaps make it faster too. This installation proved to be a success until an accident in 1965 caused yet another original rebodying, this time in fibreglass.

    Eventually, as is the case with most racing cars, it ceased to have a useful competition life but after a period out of use it was fortunately bought and restored, with yet another reclothing returning it to its 1956 Le Mans condition. It may have taken almost sixty years, but that meant that the wheel had finally come full circle for this rare car.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5371

    Martin
    Keymaster

    New regulations and a new model at the 1982 race, where where the factory 956 team not only finished in numerical order but in chassis number order! cars No.1 (#002) of Ickx/Bell (1st/Grid 1st) and No.2 (#003) of Mass/Schuppan (2nd/Grid 2nd) can be seen here, the only things spoiling a text book performance being No.3 only qualifying 14th and a Rondeau taking the fastest lap.

    This lens gives an unusual view of these familiar cars and that wooden tripod on the right must have been a bit antiquated even then.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5403

    Martin
    Keymaster

    An atmospheric action shot -but one notable for its order and calm- that captures the ‘Moby Dick’ 935/78 (#006) being refuelled during the 1978 24H.

    Driven by Schurti/Stommelen the car qualified 3rd and finished 8th and although there were six Porsches in the top ten that year the race went to one of the Alpine-Renaults.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5486

    Martin
    Keymaster

    The 1971 race saw a number of unusual 917 entries in a variety of colour schemes, although none of them finished. The Martini team fielded the unique 917/20 ‘pig’ in its fetching shade of pink -a livery carried in tribute by a factory 911 at the 2018 race- and one of the three 917LH’s in a stunning (and hand painted) flowing version of their stripes and silver colours. The other LH’s were part of the JW team and #045 shown here (and in Post#4141 at the beginning of this section) was practiced by Siffert/Bell to a grid 3rd, although its race was over just before 9am on Sunday morning  due to oil loss caused by a cracked gearbox casing.

    Lined up prior to the start, #045 looks quite different to #043 next to it due to the application of much more orange paint. This livery certainly gave the car more of a presence and suited its lines very well.

    Still running strongly at this stage, after a 3.18 lap by Siffert at the beginning of the race the car consistently ran in the low 3.20’s. Even with a wing now bridging the fins those Gulf stickers were still being applied to the inner faces of the latter.

    With the number roundel secured with tape and the body wearing the signs of many hours of racing this looks to be the final pit stop, where after twelve minutes of work the car was reluctantly withdrawn.

    Extensive development of the long tail cars had taken place with a view to one of them securing victory on this occasion and while they proved themselves to be fast and stable all were ultimately eliminated by mechanical failures, handing victory to a 917K -this time from the Martini team- for the second year in succession.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5535

    Martin
    Keymaster

    At the 1969 race JW were still running GT40’s -one of which won- and Porsche were still entering cars on their own account. These comprised two 908’s along with three 917’s with the original style of LH bodywork and one of the latter is seen in action here, #008 of Elford /Attwood.

    All of these cars retired with the exception of the 908 that almost won the race, the car pictured above -which had qualified 2nd- going out only 45 laps from the finish with transmission problems.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5569

    Martin
    Keymaster

    At the time when Vern Schuppan took three 962C’s to the 1991 race he was also in  the final stage of developing his 962CR road car, a project that was sadly terminated due to various circumstances beyond Schuppan’s control. This occasions was not without its problems either, the car (#140) having initially been entered as T-car with plain red bodywork that had previously carried Takefuji advertising when it had been raced by the team in the Japanese endurance series. It had also come home 12th at Le Mans the previous year and would go on to score a 3rd overall at the Daytona 24 Hours in 1992, but here it was pressed into service as a replacement for the original No.53, an ACT carbon-chassied 962 that had been rebodied but which turned out to be too unstable to race.

    This T-car was quickly converted to the team’s Art Sports livery and took its 33rd place on the grid and although still running at the finish after a variety of problems it was not classified, being 46 laps behind the winning Mazda. Some idea of the aerodynamic problems that beset the original No.53 can be gained from its best qualifying time of 4:11.718, as opposed to the 3:55.706 of this car and the 3:31.270 of the pole-setting Mercedes. The car in the background, while looking rather like an RLR-modified 962 or a Kremer CK6, is actually a Spice SE90C.

    Photo: Tede Walker Archive

  • #5672

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Bernard Beguin is probably best thought of as a rally driver, but in 1977 he entered this 911 Carrera at Le Mans for himself, Jean-Claude Briavione and Robert Boubet. They qualified near the top of their class, a respectable 40th out of 62 starters, but went out with an engine defect on lap 91 of 343. The car is seen here with two of the pace-setting Alpines, although all three of those also went out due to engine failures.

    Beguin did a surprising amount of endurance racing in Porsches and other makes, but on this occasion were those additional lamps really secured with duct tape? One can imagine their heat allowing the adhesive to come loose. The additional lips to the already flared wheelarches are unusual too.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5704

    Martin
    Keymaster

    An atmospheric picture of the start of the 1982 race, with the Rothmans 956 #002 (Ickx/Bell) taking a wider line from pole but still ahead of teammate #003 (Mass/Schuppan) in what was to be their finishing order 24 hours later. The Joest 936C #JR005 (Wollek/Martin/Martin) can be seen in 3rd where it qualified, although it unfortunately retired just 45 laps from the end with piston failure.

     

    Further back and on the far left we can just see the Kremer CK5 #01 which started from a grid 8th, although only Ted Field got a drive as the car only lasted until lap 25 due to an engine problem.

    Second place #003 in another shot from the debut of the 956 at the circuit in the first year of Group C. This may seem like rather recent history to some, but there are plenty of younger enthusiasts who were not around during this great era in sports car racing. If you were there it will bring back memories of just how sensationally these Rothmans cars performed and also looked, in a livery that was one of the most suitable ever applied to the model.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5739

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Jo Bonnier drives into the setting sun at Le Mans in 1963 in the works flat-eight 718GTR (#046) that he was sharing with South African driver Tony Maggs. Unfortunately their combined talents could not prevent retirement due to an accident at one third distance and Ferraris filled the top six places that year, the best Porsche only managing 8th. As far as I know this was Maggs’ only Porsche outing, although he raced many other sports cars and took part in almost thirty Grands Prix.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5775

    Martin
    Keymaster

    This is a familiar picture, but I have been looking into this and the other 1951 356/2 SL (Super Light) entry, the first at the circuit for Porsche and one which also provided them with their first class win. As we have noted before, it was common practice to alter the chassis numbers of racing cars for purely practical reasons, such as to fit existing transit and entry documents and these cars were subjected to this. As an additional complication at least some the Gmund alloy-bodied cars that were subsequently sold as competition versions also had additional/alternative chassis numbers and registration numbers, so it is very difficult to unravel what really took place almost seventy years ago – and often a lot more recently too! However, although quite a bit has been written about these cars I think that a recap might be useful.

    To assist in identification it is fortunate that there are some visual differences between this car (#063>3002/A) and its team mate (#054>3001/A), amounting to its spot lamps being mounted on the front panel rather than on the bumper and its having an air vent for the interior between them. It is usually said that these cars and the other competition versions were constructed after the move to Stuttgart used bodies left over from the initial Gmund run of circa 63 cars, but it is unknown if they were just shells or if some were complete or semi-complete vehicles. It is also not known how many competition models (perhaps nine?) were within the fourteen cars not accounted for by the initial Austrian sales. The way in which at least some cars had their chassis numbers changed to a totally different series is interesting too, as is the fact that there are at least three styles of chassis plates. As if all this was not enough, both of the Le Mans cars also appear to have been re-registered at some point post-race!: #063 from AW21 0729 to W24 3470 and #054 from AW21 0676 to W24 3475.

    It is said that the two cars intended for Le Mans were damaged in pre-race accidents in France and Germany and it may be that these were #055 and #056. A picture exists of a badly crashed #056 and #055 was one of the cars later in the renumbered series (3003/A), so it seems feasible that they were the two said to have been reconstituted into #054>3001/A for the race and that #063>3002/A had to be hurriedly converted after their accidents to become the second car. In the event the former suffered heavy damage in night practice after turning over in the wet while being driven by pre-war class winner Rudolph Sauerwein, so only the latter started.

    It has often been said that the engines were reduced in capacity for this event, but they appear to have been the then-standard 1086cc units but with their power reduced for reliability. The use of these as opposed to the recently introduced 1286cc engines sensibly put them in the 1100 rather than the 1500 class, where they would have been up against the 1500cc Gordinis and Jowetts. The best of the Gordinis was 25s/lap faster than the Porsche in practice so this looks to have been a good strategy, but in the end all four of them retired with mechanical problems and one of the two Jowetts (the best of which was 27s/lap slower than the Porsche) was the only class survivor, finishing two places below the 356. An additional advantage of being in the 1100cc class was that there were also only two other entrants, a DB and a Simca, both considerably slower than the 356 in practice (by 25s and 54s/lap respectively) and while the Simca retired the DB finished just behind the Porsche. Incidentally, the 356 came in one place below the Frazer Nash co-driven by Briton and future Porsche racer Dickie Stoop (see Porsche People>Competition Post#5394 on).

    What happened to these cars subsequently?  Winner #063>3002/A took a class second in the Liege-Rome-Liege rally later in 1951 while the practiced-crashed #054>3001/A and pre-race crashed #055>3003/A were rebuilt to LM specification, although with some slight differences such as the front wheel spats overlapping the ends of the front bumpers. All three were fitted with 1488cc engines and sold to New York Porsche importer Max Hoffmann, who in turn found customers for them among US racers. While I am not sure about the American competition life of #055-3003/A, after its track days ended it survived in storage long enough to be found and restored.

    Car #054>3001/A turned up without wheel covers and in Uruguayan hands for the 1953 Carrera Panamericana (in which another 356SL -#062 from Guatemala- also took part) where it did not finish and in the 1954 race it was entered and driven solo by the British actress and Mexican resident Jacqueline Evans (see Porsche People>Competition Post#5523), a previous 356 competitor in the race who ran out of time on this occasion and so was disqualified.

    John von Neumann, proprietor of West Coast imported car dealer and repairer Competition Motors, was a friend of Hoffmann from their days in Austria and had already acquired other Porsches from him when he bought the LM class-winning car #063>3002/A. In 1952 he tried racing it in its LM form but found that the frequency of braking required on the US circuits as opposed to Le Mans meant that the wheel spats inhibited brake cooling and caused them to fade, so he removed these and then had the complete roof removed to save weight and wind resistance. In this form the car became a winner, possibly the first American Porsche victor, but the following year he sold it and it passed through a number of owners, apparently including Bill Whittington, the father of the successful and infamous later Porsche racers and LM winners Don and Bill. It then had over fifty years of road and track use with one owner until sold and sympathetically restored to its 1951 LM condition.

    Photo: Porsche AG

  • #5810

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Following our earlier Post#4147, here we see the other 550 coupe (#103) at the 1956 race. It was driven by Herrmann/Maglioli but failed to finish due to an engine problem on lap 136 of the 300 and alongside it is its fellow coupe (#104) featured previously.

    Next to that car we can just see the factory 356A Carrera GT of Max Nathan/Helmut Glöckler, which unfortunately caught fire after crashing on lap 61 and next to it the 550 (#0041) of de Beaufort/Hezemans with the Ecurie Maarsbergen symbol just visible. The latter driver was Mathieu, the father of later GELO team Porsche racer Toni and Hezemans senior was also a Porsche dealer. This Dutch pair also retired, with suspension failure taking them out after only 48 laps and so only two of the six Porsches entered made it to the finish that year.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5862

    Martin
    Keymaster

    A careworn 550 (#0013) presses on to 14th overall and 1st in class in 1954, an impressive performance from this 1100cc car of Gonzague Olivier (whose five year racing career was almost exclusively in Porsches) and Zora Arkus Duntov. Duntov (a Belgian of Russian extraction) jointly took another 550 to a class win the following year too, but after joining General Motors in 1953 he is better known for having developed the Chevrolet Corvette from a fairly soft roadster into the car that became successful in competition. Olivier worked for French Porsche importer Sonauto and sometimes co-drove with company founder Veuillet, also taking part in the Routes du Nord rally on five occasions. Previously a champion water skier, during the 1950’s he established a motor boat building company and produced various designs that were successful then and are still sought after today. As well as racing some of his own creations, French driver and sometimes Porsche racer Annie Soisbault also competed in his speedboats.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5908

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Just looking at that Ferrari in the background for a moment, it is interesting to note how much air must be going under the car given its ride height. It was aerodynamic issues that the long tail on this 906LH (#153) -being driven by Siffert in this 1966 shot- was intended to address, although it did totally change the look of the car into something very 908LH-like. Here approaching Arnage at the end of the true Mulsanne straight (it would be 24 years before those chicanes arrived) the famous sand trap can be seen in the foreground, the temporary and sometimes permanent resting place of many cars whose handling and/or braking were found wanting after the long flat-out run.

    Siffert was sharing the car with Targa Florio winner Colin Davis (son of journalist and pre-war driver Sammy) and although they only qualified 22nd they finished 4th against some pretty stiff opposition and also won their class. Overall there were only 15 finishers from 55 starters on this occasion.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5918

    Martin
    Keymaster

     

    The Ed Hugus/Ernie Erickson 718RSK (#027) in 1959, where it had the dubious distinction of being the last Porsche to retire. It is most unusual to have a running of Le Mans with no Porsche finishers and out of the six cars participating -including two works entries- this American-entered car lasted until lap 240 of 323. Hugus had quite a varied driving career including sporadic Porsche appearances while Erickson drove Porsches more consistently, including an Elva-Porsche.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5935

    Martin
    Keymaster

    It was so often the case at Le Mans that a Porsche starting well down the grid would finish very much higher and this car seen in 1964 is a case in point. Driven by Robert Buchet and future racing car constructor Guy Ligier, this 904GTS (#021) entered by Auguste Veuillet of French Porsche importer Sonauto qualified 26th but finished 7th and won its class. The car was one of five 904’s in the top twelve at the flag and was only headed by cars in the two 3–litre classes.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5964

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Following the 1964 904 shot featured previously, here is another example in the same race while under a bit of pressure from the 4th place Shelby Cobra Daytona. This 904 (#041) was entered and driven by ‘Franc’ partnered with Jean Kerguen and they finished 12th from a grid 24th. They also won their class and were 41 laps behind the Ferrari that won overall.

    Franc was actually Jacques Dewes, active at Le Mans between 1954 and 1967 and Kerguen raced various Porsches but was also a French Aston Martin dealer. The same pairing were to give the 911 its first Le Mans class victory two years later.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5977

    Martin
    Keymaster

    The words ‘Le Mans’ and ‘917’ can easily lead to a mental picture of a blue and orange car, although we all know that there were lots of other 917 liveries that raced there too. From the 1970 race this is the Team AAW 917K (#021) that van Lennep/Piper qualified 18th but which retired due to a puncture and accident at one-third distance. That year the race was even more of a war of attrition that usual, with only seven of the 43 starters completing. Of those, five were Porsches, all of different types.

    As is often the way with 917’s, the car was reconstituted to live again in various forms!

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5994

    Martin
    Keymaster

    The Swiss pairing of Rico Steinemann and Dieter Spoerry made a fine showing at Le Mans in 1968 in their Swiss-entered Squadra Tartaruga 907LH (#008). Starting from 22nd they finished 2nd overall and 1st in class, even beating the last of the three factory 908’s that was still running, although they had to give best to a JW GT40 by five laps for overall honours.

    Sponsors Hart Ski were an American ski manufacturer founded in 1955 and someone within the company must have been very motorsport and Porsche inclined as their name can be seen on a number of models raced in Europe during the late 1960’s. Presumably they were trying to break into the European market against the established makes.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #5999

    Martin
    Keymaster

    A shot that captures the dramatic appearance and performance of the 911 Carrera RSR Turbo (#9114609102R13), seen here in the 1974 race. While its team mate retired this car came home 2nd from a grid 7th in the hands of Müller/van Lennep, sandwiched between two of the four Matras. It was its first of four outings that year and it carries one of a number of different rear wing/airscoop arrangements that were used on this model, along with the panelled-over rear side windows.

    In this film of the race we can see this car and various other Porsches that have been or are to be featured here.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #6004

    Martin
    Keymaster

    This 906LH (#153) was one of three works Carrera 6’s that finished 4th-5th-6th in race number order at Le Mans in 1966. Crewed by Siffert/Davis it headed the trio, who also took the first three places in their class. Seen in the pits prior to the start, we can appreciate the frontal details of the car due to its being jacked up and this fuel-injected car also took the Index Of Performance award.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #6013

    Martin
    Keymaster

    The two factory 936/81’s experienced rather different fortunes during the 1981 race. The above example (#003) of Ickx/Bell was victorious, while the Mass/Schuppan/Haywood car (#001) below could only manage 12th, their respective grid positions being 1st and 2nd. That looks to be the Preston Henn-entered 935K3/80 (#0000009) of Henn/Chandler/Mignot behind No.11, which failed to finish due to an engine problem.

    The differing conditions of the cars early and late in the race will be noted. All in all it was a good result for a couple of models that had their origins in 1976 season and had been revised and re-engined at short notice after having not been used since 1979. I recall the race as being something of a mixed bag even by Le Mans standards, with the new Kremer 917 (see Porsche Partially post#3869) having the first of its two outings and -even older than the 936’s- a 1969 McLaren M12 practicing, although it was far too slow to qualify at nearly two minutes off the pace. It’s best time was only the same as the 1937 race-winner and was almost a minute slower per lap than the Lola-Porsche ahead of it, which was co-driven by Brian Redman and also failed to make the grid.  Additionally there were four 924GTR’s from different teams (two of which were non-qualifers), a factory 944 (7th overall!) and a fantastic variety of 935’s. Great days and at least from the Porsche perspective unlikely to be equalled.

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #6026

    Martin
    Keymaster

    In an unmistakable view from 1964 we see the all-Swiss Scuderia Filipinetti 904 (#079) of Herbert Muller/Claude Sage about to be passed by a NART Ferrari 250GTO. However, that was not the whole story, the Porsche starting from only four places behind the 25th position of the Ferrari and outlasting its one-third distance retirement to finish 11th overall.

    That was only good enough to give it 4th in class though, as there were another three 904’s ahead of it out of a total of seven in the race. In fact, the only two that failed to finish were the eight cylinder pair entered by the factory, proving once again that reliability is sometimes more than a match for greater speed and bigger engines!

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

  • #6036

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Peter Gregg was perhaps an unlikely member of the driving crew of the French JMS Racing Team 935 (#9307700912) at the 1977 event, sharing the duties with only Claude Ballot-Lena after Jaques Borras failed to practice. Qualifying 16th and behind other Group 5 935’s from Martini-Porsche, Georg Loos and Kremer they went on to triumph in class with a very respectable 3rd overall after overcoming various engine and brake problems, beaten only by a works 936 and a Mirage GR8 and vanquishing many faster cars, including the entire works Alpine-Renault team.

    The car gave Gregg one of his best results of his five LM races (he was also 3rd in a 936 the following year) and it carries the name of Parisian Porsche dealer, preparer and sometime LM driver Henri Cachia. Its striking x-ray livery relating to sponsor 3M was also worn by the other JMS-entered car seen above, a 934 (#9306700177) of Grandet/Bousquet/Dagoreau that finished 19th from a grid 29th and so making it a very successful weekend for the team. This 934 raced at Le Mans for six consecutive years between 1976 and 1981, finishing three times but only being classified twice, its final appearance (for a different team) being its best ever, a class-winning 17th overall.

    The Inaltera seen with the 935 in the above picture also had an equally unexpected US crew member and one more usually associated with Porsches, Al Holbert. A pre-Rondeau project of Jean Rondeau which started out as an all-French LM challenger before the lack of a competitive engine forced a switch to Cosworth power, the three Inalteras took their name from their sponsor (a wallpaper company) and this one started and finished 13th, the last of the trio.

    Photos: Ted Walker Archive

  • #6038

    Mike Beattie
    Participant

    Interesting that the sliding door windows on the 935 are fully open and the rear quarter windows have been removed, I remember that June 1976 was warm here in the UK, so I assume this must have been done for the driver’s sake despite the extra drag I must have created down the then long Mulsanne. It must have also put a lot of pressure on the rear screen.

  • #6040

    Martin
    Keymaster

    That’s an interesting observation Mike and looking at other Porsches competing in the same year (more pictures to follow in due course) they too were running with the drivers window at least partially open or replaced by a net. You have to wonder how removing the rear side windows sat with the regulations and there must presumably have been some holes in the rear screen to alleviate the pressure. The additional drag must have also had a effect on fuel consumption, an important consideration in an endurance race.

  • #6069

    Martin
    Keymaster

    Carrying very little sponsorship during the 1976 race is the Carrera RSR entered by American Tom Waugh for himself, John Rulon-Miller and Pierre Leffeach. While Waugh’s may not be a name that many will associate with the race -although he also drove Porsches there in 1975 and 1977- he was active in a variety of cars and classes in the US from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. This was his most successful French outing, netting the team a 14th overall and a 1st in class from a 46th place start.

    Just behind the Porsche can be glimpsed a non-finishing Group 4 Datsun 260Z, which obviously had its work cut out against the twelve Porsches making up the rest of its class. The race that year was unusual in having a class for NASCAR entrants, although only two of these ostensibly rather unsuitable cars made the trip and neither finished, one melting some of its eight pistons after only two laps!

    Photo: Ted Walker Archive

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