x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Top 5: Finest on-track and on-screen Porsche racing drivers

Five Porsche drivers from the race track and the silver screen that will never be forgotten

Hans Herrmann
Hans Herrmann

Hans Herrmann

Born in 1928, Herrmann began racing in the Golden Age of the sport, and found victories at the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and Carrera Panamericana with various marques. The German also had a short career in Formula One, but it was with Porsche sports cars that he had some of his more memorable victories, including the 1954 Mille Miglia, where he ducked his tiny 550 Spyder under a railroad crossing gate just as a train was approaching. Herrmann also achieved Porsche's first overall win at Le Mans in 1970 driving a 917.

Hurley Haywood

"If you have one ounce of energy left, then you haven't done your job properly." So said Haywood talking about endurance racing, a sport he excelled at with Porsche. The American driver has more wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona (five) than any other driver, won Le Mans in 1977 with a 936 and has two Imsa championships. He is currently the chief instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School in Alabama and, at the age of 63, ran the Rolex 24 Hours earlier this year, finishing 17th in a 911 GT3 car.

Jacky Ickx

Though the Belgian drove with a multitude of manufacturers in sports car, off-road and F1 racing, he took three of his six victories at Le Mans under the Porsche flag, his last coming in 1982; his teaming up with Derek Bell made for one of the most successful duos in endurance racing. One of his stranger cars was an all-wheel-drive 911 that he drove to a second-place finish at the Paris-Dakar rally in 1986. Ickx retired from racing altogether after the 1986 season. He had been involved in a crash that year that killed one of his rivals.

Derek Bell

Bell drove to five Le Mans wins in the 1970s and '80s, the first three with Jacky Ickx as his teammate. The Englishman was successful outside of France, too, and won a total of 21 times between 1984 and 1987, driving a Porsch 962. Bell was one of the drivers taking part in the 1971 film Le Mans, with Steve McQueen, and had a close call when the Ferrari 512 he was driving caught fire when moving into position for a film take. He narrowly escaped the car, which was heavily damaged.

Steve McQueen

OK, he wasn't a factory race car driver for Porsche. But the American actor will forever be associated with the German brand because of the Le Mans film. McQueen was an avid racer himself and wanted to make a film on the legendary race with his Solar Productions film company. McQueen also starred in the film, but was at odds with the director over the theme of the movie and, with the budget ballooning, investors stepped in and took over. Though McQueen finished the film, he was never paid any money for it.