Tuesday, 10 March 2009

LE MANS 1971 STEVE MCQUEEN CAMERA CAR

An interesting commentary about the Porsche 908 camera car by Steve McQueen on the set of cult movie Le Mans.



Stock News! Porsche 908 – The long distance runner By Jörg Thomas Födisch, Jost Nesshöver, Dieter Rossbach, Harold Schwarz and Rainer Rossbach is now in print and available to buy!

The most famous racing drivers drove it, and, for a long time, it was a guaranteed winner for Porsche: Now, finally, the first comprehensive work about the 908 has been published in the English language. The authors portray the fascinating history of the Porsche 908 racing car, and clearly explain its complex technology. Racing history is fully documented, and detailed statistics enable the reader to quickly look up all of the racing data. In addition, there are little-known anecdotes and contemporary reports from eye-witnesses and drivers. A wealth of contemporary, previously unreleased images evoke the fascinating atmosphere and excitement of the great seventies racing era.

Excerpt from the book:

In the mid-1960s, McQueen got the idea to make a racing movie. The
formula was a simple one: the film would be about a race car driver and
a single race. He would be the driver, the race would be the legendary 24
Hours of Le Mans. Both were to be genuine; McQueen would actually
enter the Le Mans race.
McQueen spared no effort in preparing himself for the event. In
late 1969, he bought a retired 908 works racer, which had been rebuilt in
Zuffenhausen as a Flounder. After three local sports car races in California,
the car was entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring. McQueen’s co-driver was
Peter Revson (February 27, 1939-March 22, 1974), one of America’s top
drivers. In 1971, Revson would become Can-Am Champion; in 1972 and
1973, he was a Formula 1 McLaren works driver, winning two Grands
Prix. In 1974, Revson was killed while testing a Formula 1 Shadow.
Just before Sebring, McQueen was injured in a motocross accident,
and had to start the race with his left foot in a cast. Nevertheless, both he
and Revson were extraordinarily fast. After the works 917s and Ferrari’s
512S entries experienced numerous technical problems and accidents, in
the last hour of the race it looked like McQueen and Revson had a chance
for an outright win. The very idea that a racing actor could humiliate the
world’s elite drivers of sports and prototype cars was too much to bear for
Mario Andretti in the last surviving works Ferrari. The Italian-American
pulled out all the stops, and succeeded in catching the McQueen/Revson
Porsche in the final minutes of the race, relegating them to second place.
Later, Andretti spoke of this win as the one that brought him the greatest
satisfaction, even though McQueen was more celebrated for his second
place finish than Andretti was as winner!
Three months later the actor did not appear at Le Mans after all; the
film company vetoed his entry. The star of the film could only experience
the real race as a spectator. His 908/02, converted to a camera car, was
driven by Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams. According to the script,
Steve McQueen, aka ‘Michael Delaney,’ drove a Gulf blue Porsche 917
short-tail to second place. But that’s another story ...


See images from the book on the Veloce flickr page!