Hagerty Video: Racing with Giants: Porsche at Le Mans – narrated by Patrick Dempsey

Racing with Giants: Porsche at Le Mans - narrated by Patrick Dempsey

Posted: 2023-06-01 23:45:54
Author: Hagerty
On the 100th anniversary of the running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, and the 75th anniversary of Porsche, Mobil 1 and Hagerty Media are proud to present a documentary on the intertwined, rich history of this storied race and the most-winning brand to ever cross its finish line.

Narrated by actor/racer and Le Mans podium-finisher Patrick Dempsey, this documentary features a mixture of archival footage with firsthand interviews of Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Allan McNish, Nick Tandy and Patrick Long as well as with notable brand enthusiasts Rod Emory and Spike Feresten, plus future Le Mans hopeful Loni Unser.

This film also illustrates the strong and direct connection that the Porsche brand possesses when it comes to developing new technology on the track and translating that into the road cars that enthusiasts know and love.

About the film: Racing with Giants: Porsche at Le Mans is a collaboration between Mobil 1 and Hagerty, who chose to partner with with two-time Primetime Emmy Award and Peabody Award winner Robert Dalrymple and his production company to produce a film that will connect the race cars to the road cars they inspired, showcasing Porsche’s engineering expertise and unprecedented history of dominance at the world’s most grueling endurance race.

Through this documentary, viewers will see industry titans as they dive deep into the biggest race in endurance racing, including:

• Nick Tandy: 2015 Porsche Le Mans winning driver and current Penske Porsche 963 driver
• Spike Feresten: Podcast host, television personality, comedy writer
• Rod Emory: Renowned restorer of Porsche
• Patrick Long: Former Porsche factory driver
• Derek Bell: Five-time Le Mans winning and Formula 1 winning driver
• Jacky Ickx: Six-time Le Mans winning and Formula 1 wining driver
• Allan McNish: 3-Time Le Mans winning driver including the 1998 Porsche Mobil 1 GT1 race car
• Loni Unser: Professional race car driver and member of the legendary Unser racing family


Subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos every day! http://bit.ly/HagertyYouTube

Visit our website for daily automotive news, cars stories, reviews, and opinion: https://www.hagerty.com/media

Stay up to date by signing up for our email newsletters here: https://www.hagerty.com/media/newsletter/

Follow us on social media:
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/Hagerty
Instagram | https://instagram.com/Hagerty
Twitter | https://twitter.com/Hagerty

If you love cars, you belong with us. Hagerty Drivers Club is the world’s largest community for automotive enthusiasts. Members enjoy valuable automotive discounts, exclusive events and experiences, roadside service created specifically for collector vehicles, and a subscription to the bimonthly Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Join Hagerty Drivers Club here: https://www.hagerty.com/drivers-club

Like what you see? Watch our other series including:
Redline Rebuilds | Time-lapse engine rebuilds from start to finish http://bit.ly/RedlineRebuild
Barn Find Hunter | Tom Cotter searches the country for abandoned cars http://bit.ly/BarnFIndHunter
Jason Cammisa on the Icons | The definitive car review
Revelations | Untold Stories About Automotive Legends with Jason Cammisa

Contact us:
Suggestions and feedback – videoquestions@hagerty.com
Press inquiries – press@hagerty.com
Partnership requests – partnerships@hagerty.com

Hagerty Video Transcript

– [Narrator] Le Mans, the name stirs the heart of every race fan, car enthusiast, and serious driver. The oldest endurance race in the world. One of the most grueling and rigorous driving challenges ever conceived. – [Allan] The first time on that circuit going down the straight, I felt like I was in a rocket ship. – [Narrator] One third of racing’s triple crown,

Alongside the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500. – [Patrick] It’s this visceral connection of driver and car. – [Narrator] 24 hours through the dark of night, oppressive heat, and unrelenting storms. – Le Mans is the race to win. That’s the race. – [Narrator] It’s not just a test of the car,

It’s a test of the driver. – You know, a cool thing about Le Mans, radial tires, headlights, windshield wipers all came out of this race. – We’ve got this race, it’s in our pocket and the water temperature just started to creep up. You can see the lead going.

You can see the race going. You can see everything everybody’s worked for a year just going up in smoke. – [Narrator] This contest is as much about reliability and tenacity as it is about speed. But make no mistake, it is about speed. – I just drove it completely stupidly

And fast as I could. And there we were doing 246. And I don’t think anybody’s ever been quicker. – [Narrator] Every year hundreds of thousands of fans line the roads of the small town of Le Mans in northern France. It’s a race filled with beauty. A parade of headlights illuminating the night sky

That gives way to the morning’s first light on the circuit. The cry of engines, and the spray cutting through the storms. The faces of exhausted engineers. The raw emotion of exhausted drivers. – [Announcer] And Porsche win the 1998 Le Mans, 24 Hours.

– It is without a doubt one of the most special memories any driver can have being on the Le Mans podium. – [Narrator] But every struggle and drama goes hand in hand with the beauty. Every moment has the potential to destroy aspirations and ambitions of manufacturers, of teams, fans, and even countries.

Their shot at victory always one setback away from evaporating into the midnight air. From the moment the French flag dropped to open the inaugural race in 1923, the battle was on. The triumphs, the heartbreaks, the rivalries born that day lasted a century. The early days of the race are almost unrecognizable compared to the modern event.

From the gravel and tar roads, to the famed Le Mans start that lasted until 1970. Even the circuit itself has evolved countless times over the ensuring decades. In the first race, the French Army held up lanterns to illuminate corners in the middle of the night. And breakdowns meant some drivers had to run

On foot back to the pits. The ’20s were dominated by the Bentley Boys. A group of largely British drivers who led the manufacturer to five wins in the first eight years of Le Mans. In the 1930s Alfa Romeo rose to prominence with four consecutive wins from 1931 to 1934.

World War II halted the race for nearly a decade. When the racing resumed, Ferrari and Jaguar both took home their first titles in the early ’50s. But one manufacturer would become the most associated with the history of Le Mans and win more overall titles than any other. Porsche. Their decades of dominance coincided

With another incredible feat, as Porsche also developed iconic, game changing road cars. In lock step with their wins at Le Mans. Porsche landed a class win in their debut race. That opened the door to their legacy of success at Le Mans. – 60 cars lined up for the 19th running

Of the Le Mans 24 Hour race. And this is the car that won its class. And this is the first major race for Porsche. – Porsche showed up at Le Mans with two cars. The number 46 car and the number 47 car. They crashed the number 47 car in night practice

And here is this little car company, only three years old showing up at Le Mans and they’re starting the race with one car. It finished first in class, and 20th overall. And actually beat all of the cars in the class above. – [Spike] And here we are in that very same car

In Malibu, California. – [Rod] This is such a special little car. And you know, it raced at Le Mans in 1951 and then made its way over here at the end of ’51 and has been a US race car ever since. – [Spike] But how fast did this car go in the day

When it’s on a straightaway? – [Rod] 101 miles an hour was top speed with this car. It was only an 1100 CC car with 45 horsepower. Just tucked in this little cabin for 24 hours trying to win a race. Could you imagine 24 hours in here? – [Spike] This 356 SL, super light, spawns the start of the Porsche 356 revolution. 75,000 cars in many, many years of great models of cars. – This car put Porsche on the world stage and really made these cars familiar to everybody and showed that they’re not just a cute little car.

That they have some performance and they have reliability and they can go out there and win races on the weekends which sells cars the following week. – [Spike] You can feel the very beginnings of Porsche in this car. – [Narrator] Various marks had staked claims

On different eras during the history of Le Mans. But Porsche’s overall dominance really came to the forefront in the 1970s. In 1969 to protest the dangers of a traditional Le Mans running start, Jacky Ickx walked to his car. – The race in the old days, you can call it the stone age.

Considering that aspect, there were many changes in motor racing to the famous Le Mans start, I consider that trying to put your seatbelt at 200 miles per hour plus, and never achieve that. The man who changed the Le Mans start was John Woolfe driving the Porsche 917 killing himself on lap one.

The sport authorities realized the Le Mans start of running to your car, jumping in the car without any seatbelt was not a serious option. – [Narrator] The 917s led the race with less the four hours to go, but both suffered malfunctions and broke down opening the door for the GT40.

Jacky had started last, but finished first. – In motor racing there are things that are totally unpredictable, it’s the timing. And I consider the success is linked to the timing. When they came with the first 917 I was driving the GT40. The 917 wasn’t ready at the time.

They were the fastest, but definitely they were not able to do 24 hours. – Because we played around with 917s actually on the movie and it was during that, that John Wyer said to me, you know, how about sticking around and driving a car in the movie? So I stayed on the movie.

And the first time I drove the 917 was actually up and down the Mulsanne Straight. Until I had my test drive with Porsche later that year. Yeah, I drove the Ferrari first, the 512 S at Le Mans. And of course the next year, there I am driving a 917.

Big difference was it was a year later and as far as handling was concerned, the 917 was just more compliant. And it just was easier to drive for everybody. But the 917 was just a better car all around. – [Narrator] By 1970 Porsche had become the go to sports car for drivers. And that was reflected in the Le Mans field. They set out to chase their first victory with the 917. – The history of the 917 was pretty spectacular. – When you talk about the thread

Of overall victories at Le Mans with Porsche and you go back to 1970 and you focus on the 917K, just what the time was like, with the drivers, how lightweight those cars were and they had this massive engine behind them. But such a key, key victory in 1970 to finally breakthrough.

– [Narrator] 1970 was the first year without the Le Mans running start. Porsche loaded the field. And their biggest challenge was from Ferrari. Including one driven by Derek Bell. Ferrari was looking to get back on the top of the podium after falling to fourth. But quickly found that Porsche

Would be their true rival that day. – Leo saw the 512. It was not competitive enough against the 917. And the 512 had a very different aerodynamic than the Porsche. And we were clearly beaten by one second, two seconds a lap without being able to do anything.

The next year we had the same sort of corner car design with a short tail, with the flaps on the rear and so on. And immediately we were very quick. But that was too late. – [Narrator] Racing through heavy rainstorms, two 917s finished ahead of the Ferraris

And handed Porsche their first overall win at Le Mans. – A 917K is this visceral connection of driver and car. The engine is sitting on your shoulders. When I drove that car I thought what it must have been like for those drivers to take victory in 1970 and just the speed,

The raw thrill of that car going down the straightaway. Everything about the storyline and finally that overall victory for Porsche. That has to be number one in my book. – We go there testing with the 917 long tail. And I remember doing the test weekend and Norbert said to me, he said, “So how many revs were you pulling on Mulsanne?” And I said, “Oh the best I ever saw was 8,100 revs.”

And he said, “Ah, that’s good, because at 82 she blows up.” And he started to laugh. I said, “What are you laughing about?” And he said, “Well, allowing for time growth that’s 396 kilometers an hour.” Which is 246 miles an hour. And nobody’s ever really been as fast in the race.

I then sort of started to learn a little bit more about some of the way Porsche operated and their engineering expertise. – [Narrator] On his automotive podcast, “Spike’s Car Radio,” Spike talked to Jerry Seinfeld about driving a 917. – [Seinfeld] It’s scary, and it’s very sexy.

The front fenders, the way they kind of flow down into the nose of the car and how forward the windshield is and how you’re laying down. You just feel like you’ve been put in a missile. It’s so big and so small. – [Spike] Right.

– [Seinfeld] You know, when you stand in front of it, it just comes up to your shins. But that it’s so long, and it’s so wide. And the craziest thing about it, easy to drive. – [Spike] Right. – [Seinfeld] Easy to drive. – Then the 1977 race with the 936 was an incredible story in a way. – Well we feel that during the first four or six hours it’s not necessary to follow anyone of the race. If they go very fast, let them go. – [Narrator] The road to victory was daunting.

Jacky’s number three car lost its engine and he became the reserve driver for the number four car and found himself racing from the back. – What was fascinating when you start last and you have no limit. You start to go flat out. Because you have no option. Either it’s finish or either it breaks. You are always at the limit permanently. But sometimes you can make all sorts of attempts you want, it works.

So, I drove the night three stints in a row. Another three stints and then through every hour you can see you are 36, 20 hours, 15, 10. Hurley Haywood did an incredible race. Jurgen Barth was the third driver. Did an incredible race. The mechanics changed some parts on the car

In a speed they never did before. The conclusion of that incredible race where the car finished very sick only on five out of six cylinders. You never have to give up. In sport you never know what’s going to happen. And that’s probably the most unexpected win in the 19 wins of Porsche. That’s 1977.

– [Narrator] Not only did they win Le Mans, but Porsche also made history with the release of one of their most revolutionary road cars, the first ever Porsche 911 Turbo. – Jacky winning with the 936 and here we are in a 930 turbo. Little did we know that this would become one

Of the most iconic street cars ever. Turbos really reigned both on the track and on the street. Amazing to think that the rules and regulations and the competition of Porsche going after races like the 24 Hour Le Mans bred cars and ideas like this 930 Turbo.

The art and enjoyment of driving turbo cars on roads like Mulholland Highway, it’s so rewarding because it makes so much power down low. It’s very linear in how when it builds boost and it picks up speed, it’s almost effortless. And you think about accelerating out of the Mulsanne corner

Heading back down towards Indianapolis or just taking the curves here on the infamous Mulholland Highway. There is so much for the senses in driving these cars. They’re analog and so visceral. You’re very connected. But you have to be paying attention. There really is no time for electronics

Or even the need for a stereo. It’s all about the RPM and when this car winds up and the boost is singing, you better be pointed in the right direction. It’s easy to see why they nicknamed this car the widow maker. You know, thinking about the evolution of what this street car became,

And then how it grew into the 1979 victory with the 935. And just how much connection and direct relatability there was. We’re gonna head over to Bruce Meyer’s garage and take a look at the biggest and most bad to the bone 935 ever to be on the race track. Hey, Bruce. – Patrick, welcome. – So we’re among man Le Mans winners here, but I wanna talk about one specific Le Mans winner back here. This 1979 K3 935. This has to be one of the most special cars in America. An overall Le Mans winner. Tell us a little bit about it.

– Sure. Well, it’s certainly the most famous 911. It was the only 911 ever to win overall at Le Mans. And one of the few production cars, group five cars, to win at Le Mans. – Yeah, I mean look at this backdrop and it tells such a story of prototypes

And production based cars. I mean, not only did they win the race overall, they locked out the entire podium with 935s. It just had to be incredible. But this car takes the cake as one of the most famous cars in this country, for sure. – [Bruce] This car certainly walked the walk.

Don and Bill were less known at Le Mans. So it turned out the day before the race they actually bought the car for a lot of cash money. It was a very exciting year, because the Whittingtons were actually in the lead and then they had a problem.

So they were by the side of the road. And Paul Newman’s car was just a little behind. And of course, they were making up time as the Whittingtons were stalled up by the roadside. So at the closing hours, Paul Newman came in for a tire change and they cross threaded, I believe.

One of the wheels. And it held them up and it cost them the race. That race could have gone either way, and Paul Newman would have been a great winner, as well. – [Narrator] The 1980s could only be described as the decade of dominance for Porsche at Le Mans.

In 1981 Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell won in the 936. In 1982 Jacky and Derek would land another overall victory for Porsche, but this time in the 956 race car. The first of the aluminum monocoque cars in the start of the group C era. – So after the 936 I remember Professor Bott

At the factory said to me. He said, “Oh, next year Herr Bell we’re doing group C.” And I went, like, “What’s that?” And he said, “Well, it’s the car in that workshop there.” And I went, “Oh my goodness.” And there was this glorious new monocoque being built by the factory. – [Narrator] Porsche took the top three places and finished in order of their cars. – Cars one, two, and three finished in that order after 24 hours. So, it was pretty remarkable, actually. – [Narrator] It was the last of Jacky’s six wins at Le Mans. But the second in a string of unprecedented

Seven straight wins for Porsche. In 1983, Porsche took nine out of the top 10 spots in Le Mans. But Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, it was one of the hardest races of their lives. – [Announcer] At exactly seven minutes to four o’clock, the entire field come down towards the S,

Weaving, putting warmth into their slick, dry weather tires. – [Derek] We went into the race in ’83 on poll position, as usual, assuming we got a pretty good, fair chance of winning. – [Announcer] The pace car pulls off into the pits. And the 51st Le Mans 24 Hour Race is on.

And straight into the lead goes Jacky Ickx, The Lancia Martini in second place. – [Derek] And the first lap he got putted off the road. – [Announcer] Change of leader because Jochen Mass in number two, Rothman’s car, has gone into the lead. – That put us back a lap

Because he had to come in the pit and check the body work. As you would during those 235 miles an hour down Mulsanne. – [Announcer] Down we go down the long, three and a half mile Mulsanne Straight. 225 miles per hour. – I turned into Mulsanne corner at 6:00 in the morning

And the engine stopped. And I wasn’t a very good mechanic. So I got out of the car and had to take all of the body off the back, the long tail. And then lept into the engine at the back. I’m sitting on top of a red hot engine

That had been running for 14 hours at this point and I’m pretty jaded by this time because we had driven so delicately, but so fast. And then I turned the key and it started. Then I had to go, oh shit, I gotta put the body back on again.

And literally I had it resting on the rear tires and I ran forward with it. Like that. And it bounced it’s way along and ended up, got in, and drove off and came in the gate. I’m up on the jacks and I can see Jacky is down in there and he’s talking to the mechanic like, “You’ve gotta take those discs off.” I said, “Get him outta the way!”

You know, so they picked him out and threw him away like that. And I carried on in the car. I was losing a hell of a lot of time trying to pump the brakes. So I suddenly had the Derek Bell plan. And as I went down the straight,

I would use my left foot and heat up the disc towards the end so that as it got hotter it would expand and glue itself together. From 235 miles an hour, it was putting a lot of pressure on the brakes down into Mulsanne corner.

I broke lap record twice in the last hour, apparently. – [Announcer] And there are the two Rothman’s Porsches. That seems have moved away a little bit. – And we lost the race by 26 seconds. That was the toughest race of my life, probably Jacky’s too as far as Le Mans is concerned.

I mean that was the one I remember intimately. The ones that I won I can’t remember, because it just was perfect the whole way, you know? – [Announcer] Almost 170,000 spectators see 4:00 PM start on Saturday afternoon. Rothman’s Porsche have dominated this race for the past four years. – [Narrator] In 1986 Porsche took the top seven places overall. As Hans Stuck, Al Holbert, and Derek Bell drove the 962 to victory at Le Mans.

– Al and I had won Daytona that year, the 24 hour. So they said, would Al come over and drive with Stuck and I at Le Mans when we were having three drivers then. – [Announcer] Bell and Stuck heading for victory with Holbert’s help. – And we won Le Mans.

In fact, we won Daytona the next year. And then Le Mans again next year. So nobody’s ever won four consecutive races like that. – [Announcer] Derek Bell wins Le Mans for the fourth time. Al Holbert for the second. Hans Stuck for the first. – [Narrator] The victory in 1986 wasn’t

The only historic achievement for Porsche. That year it also marked the debut of the 959. The car that launched the super car era. – Be clear, the philosophy of Porsche, it’s racing but basically number one is the development of their technology. – I used to moan like crazy when they brought in some new development. We had to test them in the races. I’m a racing driver, I’ve come here to race,

Not to go out and test the damn thing. Why put it in the race car for me when we can win the world championship? And they said, but every race has to be the development of something. And that was the great thing about Porsche. They were developing something all the time.

Otherwise they couldn’t justify their budgets. – 1986 was such a pivotal time for Porsche. Not only in the competition side, but on the totality of the car company. There was so much evolution and such a jump in technology. But also that car reigned for so long and there were so many dominant victories.

And then the debut. The first super car, the 959. And it was a perfect storyline of this evolution from track to street. Big horsepower, bit aerodynamics, active suspension, lots of things that we had seen little snippets of but when that car rolled out, we entered into

This new era that we now know as super cars. – And then in ’86 when it was my fourth victory, that same time of course, out comes the 959. And you go, oh, so that’s what they’ve been doing. Here we are driving this glorious car today and people are turning around in the streets taking a look at it.

They produced 200, which is so typically Porsche. So that they were always going to be in demand. People were biting people’s arms off to get in there to get the 959. And it set the world alight. – [Patrick] It was such a huge departure when you look

At the silhouette of a G model 911 and then when they started modeling the aerodynamics off the back of that core 911. And today the technologies that are in cars were really stemming from that time in a period of evolution where it was just, anything goes. – People lost their minds.

It’s the ultimate marriage of technology. It’s the fastest car in the world at that moment. And it looks different than anything they’ve ever made. It’s just the most technologically advanced car Porsche has made up until that point. – [Derek] It made such a statement

At such an important time in their life, I think, really. I mean, they went out and did Paris Dakar with it and won it. I mean, to go out there, and take on the world’s biggest off road rally, the toughest event of the year anywhere and they go and win it.

You know, with drivers that aren’t really off road rally drivers, they were racing drivers. – The race of Le Mans still is a mythical race. It was something that I didn’t appreciate how important it was in the world of motor sport or just generally in the wider audience until I went there the first time. – [Narrator] Porsche and the engineers at Weissach

Reached new heights in developing the GT1 for the ’98 season. – We realized that we had to make some big improvements. Not necessarily just in terms of aerodynamics and efficiency, or in power, but things like the gearbox. So the ’97 car had an old H-pattern gearbox.

You had to brake, you heeled and toed, a very robust and very reliable system. But it wasn’t fast. And the performance of the competition was moving on so quickly that we had to go to a completely new philosophy. So the car was a carbon fiber monocoque.

The first time Porsche had ever done that. Also as well, with the sequential gearbox. And that sequential gearbox aided us quite a lot. Especially going through corners, because you were only pulling in one direction, not trying to cross over the gate. And especially in Porsche corner, that sort of thing.

The aerodynamics of the car were a lot better. There was a lot of constant learning going on and I went to do a seat fitting in the car. And it was in pure carbon black with Mobil 1 written down the side and Warsteiner. And the car looked fantastic.

But then when it came to be fully branded and fully liveried with the Mobil 1 livery. As it sort of dragged back from the logo that was on the nose of the car, it was like bleeding out of it. All the way through to the tail. It was simply stunning.

But that had a real feel of art about it. – [Narrator] Beauty was one thing. Performance was another. And Porsche would be debuting the GT1 on the biggest stage of them all. – I enjoy Le Mans and to be honest, I’m just feeling the atmosphere. I think to drive for a privateer team, and to drive for the factory Porsche team,

There’s a big difference. Because this is my first time here with the factory Porsche team. A lot of people have got a lot of interest in Le Mans, but also in Porsche. – [Announcer] What a fantastic lap for Scotland. – Yeah, it was a good lap. The car’s been very good all day. One thing about pre-qualifying today, with the strength and depth of Mercedes, Nissan, and Toyota, you always have to be ready to go back out and do it.

We know the car is quick. We know that its got a good balance. But we’ve gotta win the race, that’s the important thing. Not today. And sadly Ferry Porsche had passed away just a little bit before. And I think it’s difficult to realize the importance of someone like that

In a family company like Porsche. Without a doubt, we had extra inspiration that year to go and deliver something that was very special to him as well. You know, with the grandstands, with all the pomp and ceremony before the start itself. And then when you close the door,

And you pull first gear and you pull away for the warmup lap before the rolling start, that’s you in your own cocoon. Then you’re in your own office. There’s nothing else, it’s just you, your teammates, and 24 hours later, the checkered flag. – [Announcer] And… The lights are green and it’s go!

And Brundle was just cutting in front there. Oh, there goes Schneider! Schneider goes around the inside. Oh, I told ya! It’s a grand prix from the beginning, ridiculous. – [Commentator] A great start by one of those BMWs. BMW serious about this as well. Schneider leads Brundle then the BMW, Mercedes,

And the first of the GT1 Porsches. – [Narrator] From the first lap it was clear that the new team from Toyota would be putting up a fight. With Toyota, BMW, and Mercedes to contend with, Porsche would have to stare down some challenges from true giants. – The first time I was in the car about eight o’clock

At night if I remember, and we were in the lead. And that was the first time we had led this race. – [Narrator] Rainfall provided an opportunity for Porsche to employ a different strategy. – We were out on slick tires, when others had gone to intermediates. With an ABS system that was functioning very, very well and very tunable ABS system. And so I was able to adapt my driving style

And also the ABS to be able to manage the conditions and still stay out on not an appropriate tire for the condition, but one that saved us a pit stop. – [Narrator] Sir Stirling Moss said, “To achieve anything in this game, you must be prepared to dabble in the boundary of disaster.”

– I overtook our sister car to lead by a lap. And I saw maybe 30 seconds later, a minute later, the water temperature just going up. And radioed in to say, water temperature going up. Yep, we’re monitoring. And then they said, box. No, no, no, it’s okay. I’m sure it’s only a sensor.

And I’m quite emotional now actually. We were on the jacks. The sister car was on the jacks, because it had actually gone off and through the gravel. And I could just see this lead. And then suddenly, it’s gone. Actually the hairs are standing in the back of my neck now.

– [Narrator] The entire team knew what was at stake as the technical problems threatened to derail their chances at victory. But the pit crew and the mechanics got the GT1 back in the race in second place. – And then the final moment of the race for me

Was when it was a minute and a hour to go. And I was coming into Porsche curve. So on the left hand side there was a Toyota sitting there. – [Narrator] When a blowout crippled the Toyota’s 27 car, the Porsches broke through and took over first and second.

And then as I entered into Dunlop Chicane I got the radio message from Roland Kussmaul who was my engineer. Saying, we’re in the lead. And then I got one from Herb Tamfera. Keep it to the end, don’t crash the car. Yep, I’m gonna go for that one.

And that last hour was stunningly beautiful, stunningly long. – [Narrator] Porsche landed its 16th overall victory at Le Mans. – And that was a moment 25 years ago, but it felt like it was yesterday. You know, Laurent, Stephane, and I, we were like three children on that podium. I think it was the first time we had done a selfie. Laurent with his hand out, Steph and I taking pictures

Of three grinning kids on the podium. Those, without a doubt, are some of the best, most natural selfies you will ever have. – So in 1998 Porsche wins with the GT1 on the track and what do they do the following year? They release this car. The ’99 GT3. It’s got a wing on the back. It’s low in the front. It’s got that Mezger engine which just gives you a marvelous sound.

Hans Mezger is one of those guys, one of those guys that has been designing engines for Porsche since the late ’50s. He had his hand in the early 911. He helped design the Porsches that won Le Mans, the 917s in 1970 and 1971. And his engine is the engine that powers

The GT1 to victory in 1998 for Porsche. And then what does Porsche do? They say, why don’t we give our fans a car on the road with one of those Mezger engines in it. And that is this car right here. It wasn’t the only significant car around that time.

Porsche also had its last air cooled 911, the ’98 C2S. And there’s one of those right behind me, driven by none other than Loni Unser, who’s a professional race car driver herself. – Beautiful morning. – So you’ve driven one of the most difficult races in the world, the Pikes Peak race.

– I was lucky enough to drive it in the Cayman GT4 Club Sport and what a better car to drive it in. It was my first year and the Cayman just was amazing. It did everything that I wanted it to. I was so lucky to drive that iconic race in a Porsche.

And I hope to be able to one day drive Le Mans in a Porsche as well. – So Loni, you’ve come from a racing family. Has anybody in your family ever raced Le Mans? – Yeah, my dad is actually the only Unser to have run Le Mans.

He ran it in 1995 and he almost won the thing. – And what is it that is so unique about the 24 hour Le Mans for you? – Growing up Le Mans is just kind of like the Indy 500, it’s one of those races that as a young kid you dream of driving. – [Narrator] It would take 17 years before Porsche would contend for an overall win again at Le Mans. But in 2015 they arrived with one of the most technologically advanced race cars of all time. – Pushing forward it was quite a big gap between 1998 and when the 919 finally took its triumph.

It’s a tremendous, tremendous evolution. – There’s nothing else on the planet like it. – The atmosphere is electric. – This place is just something special. – Yeah! – [Driver] I wasn’t thinking there was a Martin and I just lose some power, actually. I don’t know what happened. We have to investigate. – We fell back around a minute early on in the race. We pitted early, just as we come out of the pit

The safety card came out for an incident on the track. Which set us back quite a lot. There was a feeling of, oh, this is not going our way already. But of course, things got better. We got lucky with some technical failures of other cars.

But at the end of the day, we proved to be the fastest car on the track as well. I do remember once we were fighting, I think the number seven Audi. Well, they were trying to stay on the lead lap. There was an incident under slow zone.

And the cars were kind of side by side. And there was very nearly contact. Things often happen. The field prevailed and we got to celebrate a victory early. – [Narrator] The 919 didn’t just win, it dethroned Audi and landed the first of Porsche’s three straight overall victories, bringing their record breaking total

To 19 wins at Le Mans. – Yeah, we’re pleased, you can say that. – It started another era of Porsche at Le Mans dominance. I’m just very proud to be part of it. – Hybrid technology at the forefront of Le Mans just didn’t exist. So much motor sport runs through the veins of this 918. It’s wild to take myself back to seeing the 919 take the overall victory. There was so much relief in the eyes of the drivers, the engineers, the program managers.

And it really was a team atmosphere. I remember celebrating after the race in hospitality. And for Nick as a GT guy and very little prototype experience to jump in with sort of a third car effort and to take the victory. So many people’s plans paid off. There’s something surreal about cruising down

A coastal highway in complete electricity, completely silent and that reminds me of being at Le Mans in 2015 and watching the 919 accelerate out of its pit box in silence. And what a treat to a street car that’s applying those same learned behaviors from all of the testing

On the track with the 919. – [Narrator] This year the legendary team owner Roger Penske returns with the Porsche hyper car 963. A car that would have seemed like something from another planet when Porsche made their debut at Le Mans in 1951. – Roger Penske has made no secret that Le Mans is one race that he’s gonna continue

To fight to get to and to win. It’s gonna be high, high competition and I think you’ll see plenty of fender banging. – Well, I like to think about Roger Penske a lot. Looking at that trophy shelf with one empty spot. I gotta win Le Mans! His plan is to do that with the 963. – I think this was kind of the pinnacle of all racing technology that’s ever been present

In all of motor sport. – Aesthetically they are beautiful. It is such a beautiful creation. I can’t wait to see what they do. – I can only say how excited Roger is. Every time he has an opportunity to be with us at the race weekend or a test day,

He just, you clearly see his intensity, his desire. I think he moves us all forward. I think every person inside this team is pushing forward to win Le Mans. – I’m lucky enough now to be driving again with Porsche and Porsche Penske Motor Sport.

For me to be apart of this and trying to go and win these massive races across North America and the World Endurance Sports Car Championship. It’s a massive deal. And wouldn’t it just be a fairytale story to get a win at Le Mans this year? – There seems like there’s a lot of fear against Toyota more than anyone else. Porsche wants to win and they have a history of winning when they put their mind to it that would scare the hell out of me if I were another manufacturer. – [Narrator] Over 100 years of Le Mans, seven decades of Porsche racing. And 19 overall victories. Their history has become inseparable. – [Announcer] That is motor sport, and that is what endurance racing is all about. Unbelievable. – I’m just impressed that anything lasts 100 years.

If I see someone that’s 100 years old I go, hey, you did it. This race started with the idea of moving automotive technology forward. And here we are 100 years later and they’re still doing it. The story is not done. – [Announcer] Porsche won first with the 917,

The 936, the 935, and then the might of the 956 that turned into the 962. The Porsche GT1 and now its three wins on the trot for the Porsche 919 hybrid. – To me that’s what’s exciting about this race. Seeing what turns up this year after the 100th anniversary

And then maybe looking back in 25 years and going, look, that’s when that was developed and this is before the cars flew. – Well done, everybody. The crew, well done for all your hard work. – A centenary is without a doubt a big bofty. In the UK you get a letter from, you know it was the Queen and now the King. – [Announcer] And out go the flags. The race is won.

Porsche have won once again at Le Mans. – When I think about it, I’m extremely fortunate because I raced at Le Mans 25 times in 26 years. – [Announcer] The reigning champion, Derek Bell, who now notches up five victories in all. – Lots of incredible drivers didn’t win it.

I don’t know why certain drivers should do better than others. I think a little bit of our mentality to be able to handle the pressure and come out the other end without getting hurt. – It was a dangerous sport, but we did it. We agreed to do it.

We were happy to do it. We survived. I think it’s a privilege that we are survivors are there are only a few of us left. – [Announcer] And Porsche win the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours. – I’m proud to be a small part of the history.

I’m proud of my hand prints in the center of the town. And I’m proud that I’ve been part of that, but also very lucky that its been part of my life. Once Le Mans is in your veins, it never leaves you. It’s there for the rest of your life.

– Now that was a fantastic end to a Le Mans 24 Hours. – What, no, no, Jacky. Ha, now that’s better. Oh, I’m away now. – Wait, what’s happening? I think I am better than you. – You are. Now don’t say anything, but I’m coming up to lap him, okay. How many times have we gotta go around, because I get paid by the mile. – [Crowd] Oh! – When people say, how do you get on with Jacky? And you know, what’d you used to say? I said, I never talked to him. He’s either driving or I am. We’re never together at the same time. That’s why we’re such good friends, because we never had a chance to argue.