“WIN ON SUNDAY, SELL ON MONDAY”and “improving the breed” — both are clichés and both contain truth. The “sell on Monday” was mainly to sell street cars, which reflected racing success.
Porsche has always been in racing. For example, Ferdinand Porsche’s first design, in 1898, was the Egger-Lohner car driven by two electric motors powered by batteries, commissioned for the purposes of record breaking and racing. It was not particularly successful but, in those days, reliability was problematic, so racing was a way to show one’s vehicle was fast and dependable.
The first cars to officially carry the Porsche name were built in 1948. Porsche started racing almost immediately with light-weight versions of the 356. The first start at the Le Mans 24 Hours was in 1951 with a 356 SL which won its class. The 550 Spyder was the first purpose-built racecar by Porsche. The 550 won its class at Le Mans in 1953. It began the Porsche motorsport department as cars were sold after major races. This was an exercise designed to develop cars and also make money.
Porsche did not win Le Mans overall until 1970, although there has been at least one Porsche in every Le Mans since 1951. As one of the world’s premier races, Porsche’s record there of 19 wins is unparalleled.
Porsche did not win Le Mans overall until 1970, although there has been at least one Porsche in every Le Mans since 1951. As one of the world’s premier races, Porsche’s record there of 19 wins is unparalleled. The company had won in 1998 but withdrew for financial reasons. It did design a car with a V10 engine to compete at Le Mans in 2000 but it never made it to the race. It was withdrawn either to devote resources to the upcoming Cayenne or at the rumoured insistence of Ferdinand Piëch so as not to compete with the Audi R8. Never one to waste resources, Porsche used the engine in the Carrera GT released in 2004. So even without racing, Porsche was improving the breed.
Porsche returned to Le Mans in 2014. Andreas Seidl, director at the time and now with the McLaren F1 team, commented on the rules at that time. He stated, “With the clear focus of developing powerful hybrid systems, combined with this clear target of maximum efficiency, is something that is very interesting for Porsche. Because we see also that we can develop new systems that we can later on develop into the road cars as well.” Porsche won in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Porsche joined Formula E in 2019, the open-wheel purely electric series. At that time, Michael Steiner, member of the executive board for research and development, said, “Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us.” Mission E became the Taycan.
Porsche is about to return to the top-category LMDh Hypercar at Le Mans in 2023. Spec chassis is required but teams can develop the engines. Porsche has indicated it would lean towards developing a production-based engine for its LMDh, rumored to be the V8 in the Cayenne. Porsche motorsport boss Pascal Zurlinden said, “A road-car-based concept is more cost-effective.”
Porsche’s GT3 Cup car is the world’s best-selling racecar. There are one-make series for these cars around the globe — Australia, Asia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Middle East, United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Japan and Scandinavia. Porsche also sells racecars for other series. For example, the winning car at the Sebring 12-hour race this year was bought and run by Pfaff Motorsports.
As seen by Porsche history, the Porsche factory races to improve the breed. Another example is the PDK transmission which was first tested in the Porsche 962 in 1985. Porsche not only sells regular cars basking in its race performances, but it sells lots of racecars.
There is another reason people race, and perhaps the most important — for fun! </>