June 11th, 2020

PORSCHE’S FIRST OVERALL VICTORY AT LE MANS & HANS MEZGER

The 1970 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans took place 50 years ago on June 13 and 14. Porsche had won first in class before, but their 1970 victory was their first overall Le Mans win.

They would go on to conquer the event more times than any other manufacturer. The late Hans Mezger was instrumental in that first victory and many others.

R.I.P. Hans Mezger, age 90, who passed away today. Hans was one of the most important engine designers ever. His first project was to work on the valve train of the Luhrmann-Designed 356 Carrera engine for Porsche – not an easy task. Over the next 35 years, he took part in the design of the first Porsche 911 engine, the Porsche turbocharged engines, and became the leader of the famed Porsche Race Engine Department.

In 1959, he developed the type 753 flat-eight engine for the Porsche 804 Formula 1 car that was later adapted to other Porsche race cars. Then he designed the 1970 917 12-cylinder motor – a car that inspired Steve McQueen’s film Le Mans that debuted in 1971.

That would be enough, but he went on to lead Porsche’s development of turbocharging with the 1100 hp 917/30 and the famed 911 Turbo. These designs include the 917/10, 917/30, 935, 956, and the 962. His bullet-proof water cooled “Mezger motor” is what is used in all 911 Turbos and GT3s. What an amazing life at Porsche. I was very lucky to meet him several times and make this portrait in 2018.