75 years of Porsche sports cars: the greatest motorsport triumphs

Porsche and motorsports: seventy-five years of dreams, victories and trophies – including Le Mans. The Newsroom presents a selection of the greatest motorsport triumphs achieved in a racing car from Porsche – and the people whose dreams were fulfilled by them.

The birth of the Porsche brand: the 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster received its general operating permit on 8 June. The series production model developed in parallel would quickly provide the foundation for initial racing successes.

Porsche garnered worldwide attention with a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.​​​​​​​

Gilberte Thirion: she had spent the prior two months in hospital after a rallying accident. In May, 1953, Gilberte Thirion was back in the Porsche 356 on the front row at the Nürburgring. The 25-year-old pursued her dream of big-time racing and made a name for herself in a male-dominated field.

Gilberte Thirion, Porsche 356, 1953, Porsche AG
Gilberte Thirion

At the 1954 Carrera Panamericana, Hans Herrmann scored a class victory with the 550 Spyder and came in third overall.

In the Targa Florio, Umberto Maglioli drove his Porsche 550 A Spyder to overall victory on 10 June, giving Porsche its first win over significantly more powerful competition from Ferrari and Maserati.​​​​​​​

The 804 was the first Porsche racing car specifically designed for Formula One. On 8 July, Dan Gurney won the French Grand Prix in Rouen and brought home the first F1 win to Zuffenhausen.

Eberhard Mahle: the son of a co-owner of Stuttgart company Mahle GmbH was not just a talented inventor, but also a racing driver. In his home garage, he perfected his racing cars down to the tiniest detail. One of them was a Porsche 911 2.0, which he worked on in the run up to the European Hill Climb Championship in 1966. He outpaced the competition in the series to such a degree that he won the title despite having to abandon the final race after a collision.

Eberhard Mahle, Porsche 911 2.0, 1966, Porsche AG
Eberhard Mahle

A Porsche 911 won the Monte Carlo Rally three times on the trot. Vic Elford and David Stone celebrated the first race win in a 911. The Porsche 907/8 also made a glorious racing debut with a one-two-three finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona and a first place at the 12 Hours of Sebring.


Hans Herrmann: in the neck-and-neck finish at Le Mans in 1969, Hans Herrmann crossed the line just four seconds behind the winner. A year later, Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans would be a dream come true not only for him, but also his wife Magdalena. Before the race, she had asked him if he would retire if he won this time. "And I gladly said yes,” he revealed later. He kept his word.

Hans Herrmann, Le Mans, 1969, Porsche AG
Hans Herrmann

With nine out of 10 possible wins with the 917 and 908/03, Porsche was the clear winner of the Manufacturer’s World Championship for sports cars. In June, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood took the first overall victory for Porsche at Le Mans in the 917 KH.

A year of records: in addition to securing the top five positions overall at Le Mans, Porsche took victory in nearly every class and special classification. The new 956 was a sensation – the first racing car with a monocoque chassis and ground effect.

Porsche 956, 1982, Porsche AG
1982 was a year of records.

The ‘TAG Turbo made by Porsche’ engine developed on behalf of British racing team McLaren International produced up to 1,000 PS and made its debut in the McLaren MP4 F1 racing car in the summer of 1983. With 25 Grand Prix wins and three championship titles from 1984 to 1986, it dominated the series.

In a surprising win in 1984, a Porsche 911 Carrera 4x4 (953) driven by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne triumphed on its debut in the Paris-Dakar Rally.

911 Carrera 4x4 (953), 1984, Porsche AG
Porsche 911 Carrera 4x4 (953)

Even before the first cars went out to customers, the 959 scored a win that captured global attention. René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne again won the Paris-Dakar Rally ahead of Jacky Ickx and Claude Brasseur in a second 959. The third 959, serving as a ‘flying service car’, took sixth.

Hans-Joachim Stuck: when ‘Stucki’ came to Porsche as a works driver in 1985, he had already been through some ups and downs as a racing driver. But his biggest dream only came true in 1986 with overall victory at Le Mans. Standing on the podium, he thought to himself: “Stucki, now you’ve made it.” A year later, he repeated the feat. “That’s when I knew that you can achieve anything if you really want it.”

Hans-Joachim Stuck, factory driver, Le Mans, 1986, Porsche AG
Hans-Joachim Stuck (left)

The Porsche Carrera Cup had its world premiere on 1 April in Zolder, Belgium, replacing the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup racing series. Victory in this first race between 40 identical Porsche 911 Carrera 2 models went to touring car specialist Olaf Manthey.

911 Carrera 2, Zolder, Belgium, 1990, Porsche AG
Touring car specialist Olaf Manthey

Equipped with a carbon fibre chassis, the Porsche 911 GT1 ’98 beat tough competition for a one-two finish and Porsche’s 16th overall victory at Le Mans. The winning car was driven by Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish and Stéphane Ortelli.

With the new RS Spyder sports prototype, Porsche entered the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) from autumn 2005. In its first race at Laguna Seca in California, the RS Spyder took pole position, set a lap record and won its class.

Timo Bernhard, Porsche Brand Ambassador, 2005, Porsche AG
Timo Bernhard

Timo Bernhard: the racing driver’s phone rang in August 2005. Porsche race engineer Roland Kussmaul was on the line. “How soon can you get to Weissach?” It was about a two-hour drive. Kussmaul continued: “We have an RS Spyder on the test track.” Bernhard’s reply: “I’ll be there in 90 minutes.” From the very first test lap he realised what this prototype, in which he would race to victory in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 American Le Mans Series, was capable of.

After 2015 and 2016, the 919 Hybrid scored its third overall victory in a row. At 18:30 on Saturday evening, the 24-hour race seemed a lost cause for Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley after a one-hour repair to the car left them 18 laps behind the lead. But they would embark on a furious chase that took them from 56th place to first.

The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team celebrated an historic one-two finish in Mexico City. Pascal Wehrlein, driving the Porsche 99X Electric with the racing number 94, started from pole position at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez and went on to score Porsche’s first win in the Formula E World Championship. Another Porsche driver, André Lotterer, took second.

Livestream event: “75 Years of Porsche Sports Cars” anniversary show on 8 June 2023

Porsche is celebrating a success story that is characterised by pioneering spirit, engineering acumen and courage. 75 years ago, Ferry Porsche realised his dream of a sports car. With the Porsche 356 No.1 Roadster, he and his team laid the foundation for the Porsche legend. 75 years later to the day, Porsche will mark its anniversary together with invited luminaries and other important figures from Porsche’s history, alongside some of the world’s media. The sports car manufacturer is also inviting the whole world to share in its anniversary show via a livestream.

Porsche Museum, 2023, Porsche AG

The broadcast in German and English will begin at 9:40 pm (CEST). The festivities will include a spectacular presentation of music, lights and choreography. During the one-hour event, the sports car manufacturer will offer a look forward to its vision of the sports car of the future.

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Text first published in the Porsche magazine Christophorus, No. 406.

Author: Thomas Ammann

Fotos: Porsche Archiv

Copyright: All images, videos and audio files published in this article are subject to copyright. Reproduction in whole or in part is not permitted without the written consent of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Please contact newsroom@porsche.com for further information.

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