Le Mythe Le Mans

Endurance racing is the ultimate challenge, no challenge in racing is more relentless, merciless and revelatory for man, brand and machine. The queen of endurance races: Le Mans. We approach this myth.

  • Text
    Matthias Mederer
  • Photos
    Porsche

Endurance races are the ultimate challenge. No other competition in motorsports is more unrelenting, more unforgiving and more revealing for man and machine. Endurance races are the supreme discipline of motorsports, which makes them the perfect test environment for new developments. They provide answers to questions that development engineers might otherwise not even ask in such detail. And this is true for both the motorsports departments as well as the departments for production vehicles.

The most famous of endurance races is Le Mans. For a hundred years, the 24-hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France has captivated, fascinated and mesmerized fans as the ultimate challenge among the world’s most merciless tests of endurance. The 24 Hours of Le Mans are not only celebrated as one of the oldest races in the world, even outside the motorsports scene, but also as one of the most prestigious. For many, it is the most important race of all. It certainly is the toughest. Le Mans is brutal. A simple yet equally compelling bit of advice for anyone who wants to perform well here: you have to embrace Le Mans. Though this can also be taken as a warning. In return, however, the winners are honored with the status of eternal legends.

You have to embrace Le Mans. Though this can also be taken as a warning.

For anyone who is serious about making cars with sporting aspirations, Le Mans is a must. Ferry Porsche understood this early on. And he embraced it. Which is why Porsche sends two 356 SLs to Le Mans for its first showing in 1951. And true to style, both cars drove the distance to France on their own four wheels. Following the accident in practice of car number 47, only one of the two, No. 46, is in the starting grid – but it immediately wins the class to 1.1 liters on the first attempt. Since then, the Porsche brand has been a regular presence at Le Mans – at times as a factory team, at times in the form of customer cars entered by private squads. No other manufacturer can say the same. For Porsche, Le Mans has a special meaning: If it can make it here, it can make it anywhere. On the racetrack as much as on the highway. This gives Porsche an unrivalled performance history at Le Mans as the event’s most successful brand.

→ Read these and other stories exclusively in ramp #61 & the Porsche Le Mans Special.

Matthias Mederer

Matthias Mederer

Editor & Photographer
One car. One camera. A driver. The location? Gladly a city like New York, Cape Town, Berlin or Tokyo. If, on top of that, a typhoon passes through, the conditions are almost ideal. Matthias Mederer may swear like an ill-bred bare-nuckle fighter, but he also delivers. Compulsory and freestyle. His style: cinematic. "Basically, it's like a harmless Tarantino film for me: good soundtrack, a few crazy dialogues and with a few little tricks, in the end it's mainly the story that makes the mark." Well, and he can also write more than remarkably.
ramp #61 Love Is in the Air + Porsche LeMans-Special

ramp #61 Love Is in the Air + Porsche LeMans-Special

Ein blauer Himmel, der Duft des frischen Grases, Sonne und die Wärme des Augenblicks, vor allem Licht. Das Licht der Sonnenstrahlen, erklären die Wissenschaftler, ist der entscheidende Faktor, wenn uns zu Beginn der warmen Jahreszeit ein flotter Gute-Laune-Mix aus Glückshormonen energisch in den Sommer lockt.

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