Get-Ad Free Access: Join Today!

Porsche’s 356 SL at Le Mans

Earning respect to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

At Le Mans in 1951 the lone Porsche finished 20th overall and first in its class ahead of a DB Panhard. Its average speed for the 24 hours was 73.545 mph, a performance of great merit that hooked Porsche on Le Mans.

Invitation to race from Charles Faroux

Charles Faroux was a car enthusiast, a racing official, a leading French motor-publication editor at La Vie Automobile and a charmer. Europe’s major automobile manufacturers entrusted their engineering secrets and newest models to him in hopes of a favorable review. Everyone respected his opinions. Dealers were proud to display photographs of Faroux at the wheel of one their cars. Because Faroux was interested in improving automobile lighting systems, he came up with the notion of a night race as a proving ground for better electrical technology. In 1923 he suggested this idea to Georges Durand, secretary general of l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest, and Emile Coquille, managing director of the French branch of the Rudge-Whitworth Company. The idea was we received and the 24 Heures du Mans was born.

At Le Mans in 1952 Charles Faroux, with cigar, discussed a technical point with Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari. Faroux invited Porsche to enter Le Mans in 1951 in spite of France’s loathing for Germany after the recent war.

Between 1923 and 1956 Charles Faroux was the Le Mans race director, a role in which he encouraged participation by promising car builders. Ferdinand Porsche knew Faroux from his half-decade of work with Daimler-Benz. With Faroux only three years older than Porsche, a close relationship developed. In fact Faroux played an important role in securing the release of Ferdinand Porsche and Anton Piëch from French internment after World War 2. When Porsche and his nephew Ghislaine Kaes took two Stuttgart-built Type 356 Porsches to the October 1950 Paris Salon de l’Automobile, they did so in cooperation with their new importer for France, Auguste Veuillet. At the Salon Veuillet urged that a car be entered in the 1951 Le Mans race.

Already a Member? Sign in to your account here.