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Porsche’s Heritage

Porsche 919 Hybrid setting all time track record at Spa. [photo by Porsche Motorsport]

Porsche 919 Hybrid setting all time track record at Spa. [photo by Porsche Motorsport]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

Sports car manufacturers seem to come and go in the world of professional sports car racing around the world. Some stay for a short time, hoping to buy some fame and glory, some stay a bit longer. But the one thing that seems to remain the same is that most of them come and go at it suits their corporate needs. A few have even earned their own bit of sports car heritage, like Audi and Ferrari over the years.

However, in the history of motorsport, one manufacturer of sports cars has remained dedicated to sports car racing success throughout their existence and remains so to this day. They have likely built, raced and sold more race cars than any other manufacturer in history.

Porsche.

Porsche has earned their racing heritage over the long haul. Their name is synonymous with motorsport. Every road car they sell has racing DNA in its soul. Porsche’s customers know it, their dealers know it and racing fans from around the world know it.

How’s this for racing heritage? 12 World Sports Car Manufacturer and Team championships, 3 FIA World Endurance Championships, 19 24 Hour of Le Mans overall victories, 18 12 Hours of Sebring victories, 18 Daytona 24 Hour victories, 2 CanAm championships, and countless class and endurance race wins to name just a few of their many accomplishments.

On top of that, virtually every legendary driver in racing history has driven for Porsche. Names like Gurney, Bell, Holbert, Wollek, Follmer, Haywood, Gregg, Herrmann, Attwood, Elford, Donohue, Redman, Ickx, Rodriguez, Stuck, Mass and Siffert, are just a few from the history of the marque whose names are spoken with reverence, their accomplishments the stuff of legend. The modern crop of factory drivers such as Bamber, Dumas, Tandy, Pilet, Bernhard, Bergmeister, Jani, Long and Bruni (to name a few) are currently in the process of continuing Porsche’s racing heritage and many of them are likely to become future legends that will be spoken of with that same reverence.

As part of that heritage, at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche will be entering a couple of Porsche 911 RSR cars in the GTE-Pro category that will carry special color schemes in tribute to that racing heritage. One will be in the famous Rothmans livery, made famous in the 1980’s when those colors were on the factory Porsche 956 and 962 models that raced at Le Mans and around the world. The other one is certainly iconic, for it is the famous or infamous (depending on your perspective) “Pink Pig” which adorned the Porsche 917/20 at Le Mans in 1971. Legend has it that sponsor Martini so disliked the color scheme that they had Porsche remove their logos from the car. In hindsight, certainly one of the worst decisions by a sponsor in the history of racing.

As Porsche factory driver Gimmi Bruni said at Le Mans this past weekend at testing: “2018 is a very special year for Porsche because we’re celebrating 70 years of Porsche sports cars. With this being my first time at Le Mans for Porsche it’s also an exciting experience for me.”

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche VP of Motorsport and GT Cars said: “With a total of ten Porsche 911 RSR, we’re witnessing one of the largest GT line-ups ever. Our cars represent 30% of the entire GT field, and we’re very proud of this.”

70 years of Porsche sports cars. Decades of success in all forms of motorsport. A history of winning and a heritage that can only be earned through hard work, innovation and an unending dedication to competition. That is Porsche.

From the early 356, to the 550, 718, 911, 917, 935, 956, 962 and most recently the 919, just mentioning the model number of a Porsche race car evokes the image in your mind’s eye of that car in competition. That is a heritage that cannot be purchased at any price, it has to be earned and continue to be earned into the future.

That is Porsche’s heritage.

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Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970’s, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com. Eddie LePine has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up). You can usually find Eddie in the paddock area, deep in conversation with a driver.