Vic Elford, Porsche motorsport legend, passed away at his home in Plantation Florida on March 13. In the last few years, the 86-year-old battled cancer with the same courage, will, and determination that he had on track. These same values made him one of only four drivers to have six major victories at the Nürburgring.
His ability to get the fastest speed from cars from rally racers to hill climb specials, sports car prototypes to Formula One cars has earned him the moniker “Quick Vic”. Elford is survived by his wife, Anita.
Porsche Cars North America President and CEO Kjell Gruner stated, “We have stayed close to Vic and Anita, particularly in recent years, and while we knew Vic was ill, the loss is still felt acutely – we send our sincere condolences to Anita and to the whole family. His achievements on track are simply staggering – I grew up in awe of him, as many of us at Porsche did – yet it will be his warmth, his kindness and decency that will remembered most by the colleagues who knew him well.”
Elford holds the record of being the first driver to have an average lap of more than 150 mph at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans). He was able to achieve this feat in a 1970 Porsche 917 LH (Long-Tail). Behind the wheel of a Porsche 911, he was able to claim victory at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans – twice – in 1967 and 1973, and he also won at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally.
Using a Porsche 907, he conquered the Rolex 24 at Daytona in back-to-back weeks in 1967. This victory is doubly special for the marque as it was their first international 24-hour race victory. Elford also had eight starts at Le Mans, with six of those eight in a Porsche. He got his first victory behind the wheel of a Porsche 906 K. His second victory was in a Ferrari. In a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, Elford had his last start at Le Mans. His legendary driving career also had him racing in Can-Am and NASCAR’s Daytona 500.
Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Volker Holzmeyer said, “I’m desperately sad to hear this news. We have lost one of the all-time greats from our motorsport community. At Porsche we’re often described as a family – but in motorsport especially so. On behalf of every one of us at Porsche Motorsport North America we want to express our profound sadness at this news. Vic was – and will always be – a hero to us. Our immediate thoughts are with his family and his friends at this time.”
To call Elford’s track victories impressive and awe-inspiring is a gross understatement. Still, it pales in comparison to the greatest honor that Elford has achieved. It was when he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by French President Georges Pompidou back in 1972.
He rightfully earned this prestigious honor for his act of courage and heroism when he stopped in the middle of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race to help a fellow driver who was in a burning car. That same consideration and empathy of his fellow drivers have touched generations, and to this day Elford is an acknowledged hero and mentor for numerous drivers.
“Vic Elford was truly an icon. He was loved by many. His accomplishments were unmatched, and he will be greatly missed by all. Vic and I became friends later in his career. We never raced against each other, but I respected the man greatly. I feel terrible for Anita. She was his right hand man. She, his family and his friends are all in my thoughts. Anita is a strong woman and I take some comfort in knowing she will succeed in her next step,” Hurley Haywood added.
Elford’s skill was immortalized in the movie Le Mans by Steve McQueen. He was personally chosen by McQueen to handle the high-speed close-up action shots behind the wheel of the famed Porsche 917. In June 2021, the iconic film celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
Elford was also a driving coach and an author, penning two books: The Porsche High Performance Driving Handbook and Reflections on a Golden Era in Motorsport.
“As a factory Porsche driver, I got to know Vic quite well – at first, I was a in awe just to be in his presence. Quickly– his direct approach and immense humility immediately made you feel at ease. Always upbeat, it was such a treat to hear Vic tell stories of his legendary journeys with a massive smile. I will always be grateful for the fun we had, his encouragement and the kindness he showed me. My thoughts are with Anita and everyone who knew Vic. I’m so sad he’s gone,” Patrick Long shared.