FORTUNES IN FRANCE
Those of us who enjoy historic racing are disappointed to hear the eagerly anticipated Le Mans Classic, already postponed a year, has been shunted forward to summer 2022, though it’s difficult to find anyone who will argue against this decision, made in recognition of the challenge in keeping the event’s 200,000plus (and growing) visitors safe while the pandemic continues to pose a threat and puts massive strain on public health services.
2021 marks seventy years since Porsche’s first entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which saw the 356 SL Coupe score a class win in 1951, an achievement which would undoubtedly have been celebrated at the Le Mans Classic, should it have gone ahead. In fact, following Porsche’s promising start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans all those years ago, the manufacturer followed up with many more victories, including nineteen overall wins, during an unbroken seven decades of participation in the daylong competition.
The first of those overall wins came in 1970, when Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann triumphed with the Salzburg 917 short-tail.
The race was significant in Porsche history and motorsport culture in more ways than one: while the red-and-white sports prototype was hammering its way to an impressive win, Steve Mcqueen’s 908/02 was following behind, loaded with cameras and filming the action as it happened. The resulting footage would go on to deliver some of cinema’s most exhilarating racing scenes, released as a key ingredient in Le Mans, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. It may not have been appreciated beyond the automotive world at the time of its release, but then and now, this special film stands as testament to Mcqueen’s unwavering determination to create the greatest racing flick.
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