Three significant numbers and anniversaries for Porsche, Le Mans and Endurance racing….
It was 40 years ago that Group C was born, with the debut of the world-conquering Porsche 956 at Silverstone in 1982, followed by a 956 lock out podium at their debut at Le Mans the following month. In 2023, Porsche celebrate their 75th anniversary and it is 100 years since that very first endurance race at Le Mans, in 1923.
For many, the Group C period of Endurance racing is THE Golden Era, with Le Mans victories for Porsche at the first and last ‘Group C’ races in 1982 and – as a GT1 entry – at Le Mans in 1994 – a domination that covered almost 14 years and is unlikely to ever be matched.
Porter Press has produced a set of three books, in their - Limited Edition - ‘Ultimate’ series that completely covers all the aspects of this incredibly exciting period.
Works Porsche 956 – The Definitive History tells the fascinating story, across two volumes and contains nine specific sections and circa 800 pages, detailing how Porsche built their first monocoque chassis and first ground effect car in just nine months, to produce a car that totally dominated and was competitive throughout the entire Group C era.
Volume One sets the scene by also going into great detail about Porsche’s racing history from the very beginning and their focus on the development of turbocharging and also the numerous Le Mans class and overall wins. It fully covers, in fascinating detail, the incredibly short time between Porsche’s board decision to go ahead to produce a totally different car to anything they had built before, through to a Le Mans podium lock out in just nine months. This fantastic story is greatly aided by the author’s decades of access to the factory archives, factory team personnel and drivers, extending back to when the factory team was still active in period. The 1982 and additional 956 works-supported customer teams' 1983 seasons are then extensively covered in incredible detail.
Volume Two continues the story of every relevant race across the 1984 and 1985 seasons, describing in fastidious detail every race in which the works 956s competed. In addition, the relentless development of the factory team cars is fully detailed too, including the determination to continue with the challenging development of the clutchless PDK gearbox, so plentiful in today’s road cars, and there is a comprehensive profile of all the works team drivers and key personnel, and how the relationship with Rothmans as the key title sponsor was formed. Finally, there is an incredibly detailed chassis history of every works team car, with complete details of every race.
John Fitzpatrick Group C Porsches – The Definitive History tells the story of how Porsche quickly realised that they needed to produce a customer version of the 956, so that there was actually someone else to race against. The book follows John Fitzpatrick’s fascinating career, which started with racing Minis and Anglias in saloon cars in the ‘60s. He progressed to be one of the most successful Porsche racers and team owners throughout the 1970s, in both the United States and on the world stage.
The book follows the compelling complete story of John and his dedicated team, with fascinating and exclusive behind the scenes background stories, as one of the most competitive privateer teams of the 956 era. It covers the team’s several landmark achievements and includes the complete story of secret testing and developments in the United States ahead of the them beating the dominant pairing of Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof fair and square in their works Rothmans 956 at Brands Hatch.
This tome also explains how the team were responsible for the very first Group C Porsche 962, debuted at Le Mans in 1984, and the struggles of financing a team at the top of their game on the world stage and against the might of the Porsche works team and all their resources. Success stories include the Supercup race in 1986 with the team that secured Derek Bell the Driver’s World Championship in 1986.
All the races across four seasons are covered in great detail and there is a comprehensive section on all the people that drove for 'Fitz' in Group C and also the key team members. With a detailed chapter covering the recent restoration of a lead team car and finally a comprehensive chassis history for all of the team’s cars raced, this is a compelling insight into why the 956 and 962 worked for both full factory teams as well as privateer teams, sometimes just running gifted amateur drivers.
Works Porsche 962 – The Definitive History covers the complete background of the 962 era. Already being heralded as ‘The Book of the Decade’, the complete story of the works connected 962s is covered in incredible detail across 1,400 pages, with 1,800 images and three volumes, in a story that has taken over 30 years to complete.
Volume One carries immense background detail of the development of the 962, with many images never seen before, thanks to an exhaustive period with unique access over the decades to Porsche’s extensive archives and also to all the key personnel and drivers. Each and every race is also covered in substantial detail, from the 1985 season through to 1988, the final year of the full factory works team.
Volume Two continues the complex and fascinating story, as many more factory works teams joined the World Championship. Initially it was Lancia, Jaguar and Aston Martin, and then with Mazda, Nissan and Toyota joining in, with Jaguar and Mercedes dominating later in Group C. But Porsche remained very competitive throughout, especially with the factory supported Joest team. The story with Joest is covered from 1989, having already become the works-supported ‘favoured’ team in mid-1987, when the factory shocked the sport by withdrawing from the World Championship. It covers the continuing success and wins right through to 1993 and then, for 1994, the story of the Dauer team’s win at Le Mans with a 962 in ‘GT’ specification.