Porsche at Le Mans: the early days (1951-1952)

Porsche at Le Mans: the early days (1951-1952)

Two local men played a key role in setting Porsche on the road to victory at Le Mans. The constructor has clocked up plenty of miles since 1951 and a record seventeen wins in the world-famous endurance race.

Porsche forged ties with the organisers of the race before the constructor ever competed in the French 24-hour marathon. It all began with a conversation between Ferdinand Porsche and journalist Charles Faroux in the autumn of 1950 at the Paris Motor Show. Faroux, one of the founding fathers of the Le Mans 24 Hours, finally persuaded the Porsche patriarch, who took some convincing, to enter the race. A deciding factor was that the gruelling competition could serve as a testing ground for the 356, the first car to bear the name of Ferdinand Porsche. Following his father’s death shortly after, on 30 January 1951, Ferry Porsche confirmed the constructor’s intention to pursue the project.

An experienced public relations expert, Charles Faroux could see the publicity potential of having an all-French driver team at the wheel of a Porsche for the 24-hour race. Enter the second local man, Edmond Mouche. Partnered by Auguste Veuillet in the #46 356, Mouche took the wheel of the only Porsche on the grid. The pair finished twentieth, winning the under 1,100cc class. They tried their luck again in 1952 and finished eleventh, breaking the class distance record, having covered 2,955 kilometres at an average speed of 123kph. And so began the story of Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the latest instalment being the seventeenth outright win for Nico Hülkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in the 919 Hybrid on 14 June this year.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO – Translated from French by Emma Paulay

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, LE MANS 24 HOURS, SATURDAY 23 & SUNDAY 24 JUNE 1951. Porsche met with success on its maiden outing at Le Mans, with a class win for Edmond Mouche and Auguste Veuillet.

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