The Porsche 917 is one of the iconic Le Mans winners. Yet in spite of the glamour of the heritage of the name “917”, many cars experienced rough years following their glory days. These cars became virtually worthless once they were no longer competitive. Some had better retirement years than others, but they were all largely forgotten. Today the 917 is one of the most highly revered and celebrated competitive endurance machines ever to race. And this car, chassis 15, is arguably one of the finest examples of the breed.
Technically speaking, this car (currently numbered 21 for its participation in the group 5 sports cars demonstration) is to be referred to as chassis 15, but in prior days the number 35 graced its hull. Following a recent extensive Porsche Motorsport restoration in Germany, #21 is back to period spec, which happens to make it one of the cleanest 917s in existence. It also makes it a direct image of the 1,000kms of Spa and 1970 Daytona winner it was back in 1971.
Wearing Gulf hues, one of the most iconic 917 liveries (albeit not the one that won Le Mans), the car looked and sounded utterly sensational on track alongside its brethren as well as it’s arch nemeses’, the Ferrari 512S and Lola T70 MkIIIB. This is its first European outing for many years following its first post restoration outing at the Rennsport reunion at Laguna Seca. What an utter privilege it was to see these cars’ legs stretched competitively or otherwise, and #21 is arguably one of the best of the moment.
Before it takes some time out back at the Porsche Motorsport workshop and the Porsche museum, it will feature in another Group 5 Sports Car demo at the 74th Members’ Meeting that you can catch on the live stream.
Photography by Tom Shaxson