Throughout this month, we will bring you a very special Advent calendar dedicated to remarkable stories and anecdotes from the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Today, here is a look back at 1963 then 1977 and the exploits of two generations of Porsche drivers, Edgar Barth and his son Jürgen.
In eight starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1957 to 1964, Edgar "Eddie" Barth only represented Porsche. After achieving his best result in his first participation in 1957 (fourth), then reaching two top 10s in a row (seventh in 1961 and 1962), he was at the wheel of the last Porsche still on the track on Sunday morning in 1963.
1963: Edgar Barth pushes himself to the limit
Unfortunately, Barth Sr. lost his right rear wheel exiting the Maison Blanche. The right rear suspension collapsed, but he didn't give up and pushed, all while supporting the right rear, the crippled 764 km 718/8 WRS Spyder over the few hundred meters still separating him from his pit.
After the necessary repairs, Barth Sr. and teammate Herbert Linge returned to the track, finishing eighth overall and winning their class. Naturally, Barth Sr.'s exploit was cheered on by the crowd at the 1963 24 Hours. At the time, his son Jürgen was sixteen. Like his father, he would become a Porsche driver for all participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, starting in 1971 and including an outstanding win in 1977.
1977: Jürgen Barth keeps spectators on the edge of their seats
After a stunning climb out of the depths of the classification, the Porsche 936 he shared with Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood took the helm of the race and carved out a comfortable lead of 17 laps. But, 45 minutes from the checkered flag, Haywood returned to their garage with a perforated piston. The decision was then made to disconnect the corresponding damaged cylinder and return the car to the track in order to complete, in compliance with the regulations, a timed lap (with a preliminary launch lap to pass the timing line).
The fragile mission was then entrusted to Jürgen, whose reputation as an engineer driver was held in very high regard by Porsche. He completed a slow lap with his 936 prototype now running on five cylinders, to claim his only victory at Le Mans.
Eddie and Jürgen Barth both, 14 years apart, achieved two of the most singular exploits in Porsche's history at the 24 Hours.
PHOTOS (Copyright - ACO ARCHIVES): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), 24 HOURS OF LE MANS 1963 & 1977. From top to bottom: the tour de force of Edgar Barth (#28 Porsche) in 1963 caused an enthusiastic response from the public at the 24 Hours. Fourteen years later, the nerves of steel of his son Jürgen (#4 Porsche) gave the marque the fourth of its 19 overall wins at the race.