Saturday, July 23, 2011


If you look closely, this pair of 917s finished in Count Rossi’s Martini Racing, and Wyer-Gulf Racing livery, below, has license plates.  
Experts in a poll conducted by Motor Sport Magazine in 1997 honored the Porsche 917:  “The Greatest Racing Car Of All Time.”

Between 1969 and 1971, Porsche’s thundering 917 registered 14 Podium Firsts and two Seconds out of 21 major competitive events. The 917 gave Porsche its first overall wins (1970 & 1971) at Le Mans and in 1971, during night testing at Le Mans, a 917 clocked over 246 mph! Some records set by 917s at the 24-hour race, remain unbroken! After the 1971 season, the FIA rewrote the rules, essentially ending Porsche’s domination of the Sports Category in the World Manufacturers Championship Series.

Over its lifetime, the 917 was available in six variants, all powered by Type 912 Flat-12 engines, naturally aspirated and turbocharged, displacing from 4.5 to 5.0 liters. They were campaigned by the factory and A-List racing teams and drivers in the sport. Porsche’s 917/30, powered by a turbocharged (with driver-adjustable boost) Flat-12 capable of producing over 1,100 horsepower, was the darling of the 1973 Can-Am Series.

Certainly not for the faint of heart, the 917/30 five-liter engine with the wick turned up to "hand grenade" boost, could generate close to 1,500 horsepower. Porsche’s slick racer could go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and top out well over 200 mph. At full boost the Flat-12 would be running on the ragged edge and not turning it down in time could result in a scattered engine.
Obviously 917s are not street cars. However, Sarasota Café Racer, Ottokar Jacobs and friend, Gunter Spindler, above, hardcore Porsche collectors and vintage racers living near Vienna, wanted 917s that they could drive on some of Austria’s incredible roads. Ottokar owns and races a number of vintage (original) Porsche racecars, restored to their original livery, including a 917 Spyder. He ran his 908 in the 2010 Le Mans 24-Hour Classic. Next year he will run his ex-Gerhard Mitter 910 Porsche at the Classic. Ottokar spends winters in Florida and is actively involved with the Car Guys Who Lunch (http://www.SarasotaCafeRacers.Com). 
Both his and Spindler’s 917s are handcrafted, painstakingly exact replicas of famous racecars that will never be in private hands. They showcase replicated space frames, drivetrains and suspensions along with road equipment. Both are powered by modified, high-horsepower 3.8-Liter Porsche engines fitted with signature 917 horizontal cooling fans in place the factory 911 vertical fans.

Gunter’s finned white 917 is finished in Martini & Rossi (Martini Racing-Team) # 22 livery. Ottokar’s blue & orange Wyer-Gulf Racing 917K is an exact replica of the racecar Steve McQueen drove and was seen in his 1971 movie, Le Mans. The original Gulf Racing 917 is in the Porsche Museum, Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany.
Photos of the Porsche 917 road warriors, above, were taken by Martin Datzinger on roads around Leithe Gebirge, a mountain range between Vienna and Eisenstddt, Austria.

At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000, a Jury composed of automotive (racing) journalists selected the Porsche 917 as the “Car of the Century at Le Mans.”

For more information about the incredible Porsche 917, please visit,

Photographer Martin Datzinger,

1 comment:

Scott Teeters said...

Although I was always a Corvette guy, I couln't not admire the 917 Porsches. 246-MPH at Le Mans? That's just amazing! The Gulf livery was always my favorite. And I always associate Steve McQueen with the 917. Cool car... Cool dude!