A Rothman's Porsche 956 at Le Mans, likely in 1982.Enlarge Photo
Porsche is commemorating both 60 years of racing at Le Mans and its 2014 return to the storied endurance race with a series of videos. Last week, we brought you the first of the series, called “The Early Years.”
This week, we’re giving you a two-fer, with videos highlighting Porsche’s presence at Le Mans in both the 1970s and 1980s.
The 1970s saw the debut and success of Porsche’s 917K, followed by wins with the open-cockpit 936 and production-car-based 935 coupe. The cars helped deliver Le Mans victories in 1970, 1971, 1976, 1977 and 1979 and set the stage for Porsche’s utter dominance in the 1980s.
If five wins in the 1970s is impressive, ponder this: Porsche won Le Mans seven times in the 1980s, consecutively from 1981 through 1987. While the 936 managed a win in 1981, the decade belonged to the Porsche 956 (with wins from 1982 through 1985) and the 962C (with wins in 1986 and 1987).
While Porsche would collect an occasional win in the 90s (three, to be precise), it would never again dominate at LeMans like it did in the 80s. As Derek Bell points out, the new car had best live up to the standards set by the 962C if Porsche hopes to recapture the glory of its past.