The Porsche legend in Le Mans begins in a village garage. A small auto shop a few kilometers from the circuit has been the home of the Porsche team in Le Mans for more than thirty years. It is here, in the village of Teloché, where preparations are made to win the famous endurance race.
France, June of 1951. A garage on the Rue du 8 Mai in Teloché, a village some seven kilometers south of Le Mans. On the eve of the nineteenth 24 Hours of Le Mans race, mechanics are working feverishly on two silver Porsches with starting numbers 46 and 47. The atmosphere is tense. The lead-up to the race has been anything but smooth—three of the four 356 SL cars prepared in Zuffenhausen did not survive the test-drives. The night before the race, the mechanics are still trying everything they can think of on number 47, but to no avail. Porsche enters only one car in the contest.
The automotive world is stunned to hear that Porsche will race in Le Mans. The carmaker, founded in 1948, is the first (and only) German brand to enter this most venerable of French endurance races in the aftermath of World War II. The announcement is not only motorsports news but also a political statement. Just a few years after the war, German carmakers are not exactly welcome in France. True, at last year’s motor show in Paris, Charles Faroux—the director of the race in Le Mans—expressly called for Porsche to participate, but his compatriots still harbor a good deal of resentment toward Germans, stemming from the occupation. The decisive impetus for Porsche to take part finally comes in the form of Auguste Veuillet, the future exclusive importer for Porsche in France. He wants to drive in the race himself, and he also plans to handle local organizational matters for Porsche with motorsports director Paul von Guilleaume.