One of the most significant stories in motorsport has to be the dominance of Porsche in endurance racing.
While for many this will conjure images of the 919 Hybrid Evo that has decimated lap records, it all began with the 917. The 917 is the car that gave Porsche its first taste of victory at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
An exhibit highlighting their motorsport milestone and celebrating the 917 Study Concept was on display in the Porsche Museum until September 15 (or so we thought – later finding out it was extended to December 8). We found two free days and set off on an impromptu trip from London to Stuttgart, and it’s only fitting that going to see an exhibit heralding the achievements of an endurance legend would entail an endurance ‘race’ of our own.
The plan, as soon as we got off the ferry, was to blitz our way through France, Belgium and the Netherlands in order to reach the automotive sanctum that is JP Performance, and more specifically, Big Boost Burger.
This might be one of the best burgers I’ve eaten, but that could be down to the incredible array of machines scattered throughout the space, the original Porsche 911 shell on the wall, or a rally car bumper complete with race dirt hanging as art.
The only thing that dragged us out of there was knowing that we still had a long stint of driving to get to our next stop, the Nürburgring.
We ended up getting to the Nürburgring after sundown, but the beauty of the ‘Ring is that even when the circuit is shut, it still acts as a magnet for petrolheads of all kinds.
For a couple of hours we took a look around at the machines that were tucked up for the night, but it was only when it approached 11:00pm that we realised the magnitude of the remaining three hours of driving that lay between us and our hotel in Stuttgart.
Suffice to say that we arrived at our hotel without incident and got some sleep before doing it all again in reverse the next day.
To enter the Porsche Museum you walk by a GT3 Cup Car casually parked at the entrance and make your way upstairs into the heart of the museum.
Everywhere you look there’s a significant car from Porsche’s history – whether it’s a 550 Spyder Carrera Panamericana, the 1 millionth 911 built, or numerous other cars in between.
The 917s were the show-stoppers, and the 917 Study the centre-piece. Porsche’s modern interpretation of their most famous Le Mans racer, with subtle hints of their 918 hypercar, is a peek at a reality that won’t, unfortunately, come to pass.
Our circuit of the Porsche Museum complete, alongside a quick pop across the street to the next-door Porsche Service Centre, we got back in the car and started the drive home.
We stopped at the Nürburgring during daylight hours, but didn’t stay for long as we needed to get through the rest of Germany and cut back across the Netherlands, Belgium and France to get to our ferry home.
It wasn’t until we parked up again in the UK that the numbers on the trip computer hit home. We’d driven 2,000km (or 1,300mi) in 24 hours of total driving, and gone across four countries in less than 48 hours.
Ultimately, the most fitting tribute we could pay to a 24-hour icon was 24 hours of driving in search of one of the greatest stories in speed – the legend of the Porsche 917.
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