“Le Mans 1970 was a tremendous risk”
Porsche and Le Mans have always been a family affair. This was also the case with the first overall victory exactly 50 years ago. Dr. Wolfgang Porsche remembers. Le Mans
The furnishings exude the flair of Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder—the miraculous postwar economic recovery when Porsche grew from a small family enterprise to a sports-car company of worldwide renown.
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche’s eyes sparkle upon spotting himself as a thirteen-year-old on the pit wall with his father in 1956. “But I wasn’t allowed to go every time because the race was always held during the school year.” Skipping school was not exactly an option, even in the race-crazy Porsche household.
First overall victory
“For me it’s not just about being there but supporting the entire Porsche team,” he says. “I suffer through the mechanical issues and am thrilled when we succeed.” Porsche has had all manner of tragedies and triumphs in Le Mans, and no manufacturer has been more successful on the course near the Sarthe River. Since the very first appearance of two modified Porsche 356s in 1951, no year has passed without the presence of Porsche race cars driven by factory or customer teams. Which is why Le Mans is also known as “Porsche’s living room.”
The Porsche DNA
The race in 1976 holds a special place in Wolfgang Porsche’s heart: the Porsche 936 was the first turbocharged car in history to win Le Mans. “We showed that turbos are fuel efficient and well engineered, which was crucial for the success of the production models.” Porsche had only recently introduced the 911 Turbo as its first road-going production car with a turbocharged engine.
Three overall victories in a row—in 2015, 2016, and 2017—continued to fuel Porsche’s story of success, not only at Le Mans. The Porsche 919 Hybrid generated valuable expertise that went into developing hybrid production vehicles and Porsche’s first all-electric car, the Taycan.
He was also there with his team at the dramatic end of the race in 2016, when Toyota appeared sure to win, only to be overtaken by Porsche literally in the final meters.
In 2017 he and the team went through the emotional ups and downs that only a twenty-four-hour race can offer. More than an hour was needed to change the electric motor on the front axle of the 919 Hybrid with start number 2.
Jun 13, 2020 at 18:44