WEC: A Historic Return to Mexico
In 2016 the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be held for the first time in Mexico City. Porsche’s 919 Hybrid will be in action over the next few days, 62 years after Porsche took a famous victory in the Carrera Panamericana road race – a win which proved ground-breaking for the company. In fact, Porsche’s association with Mexico is a strong one, with Mexican brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez being successful for the marque in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Porsche continued to race in Mexico until the 90s, with the 962 C being a regular at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit.
One of the most epic road races of the past century, Hans Herrmann crossed the line first in November 1954. After a gruelling South to North race of 3,077km, his Porsche 550 Spyder crossed the line just 36 seconds ahead of Jaroslav Juhan in the sister car, with whom Herrmann had been battling for the majority of the race. This gifted Herrmann and Porsche the class win for cars up to 1.5-litres, and put him and Juhan third and fourth overall.
The win is considered a breakthrough for Porshce, and the first achievement in Ferry Porsche’s goal of making the company’s name through success in motor racing. The 1954 Carrera Panamericana has also had an obvious, lasting effect on Porsche nomenclature, “Carrera” becoming the standard name for cars with twin camshafts, and latterly in 2009, being the inspiration for the “Panamera” name.
The Rodríguez brothers
Brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez became Porsche and wider motorsport legends. From 1957, Ricardo Rodríguez successfully races the Porsche 550 Spyder and 718 RSK in Central, South and North America. In 1961, as one of the youngest drivers ever, he entered the automobile world championship – now Formula One. On November 1st in 1962, only 20 years old, he tragically dies in a Lotus during a practice session for the Mexican Grand Prix.
His brother Pedro lived a similarly short life. He won a total of 15 sports car races, including the 24 hours of Daytona in 1970 and 1971 at the wheel of a Gulf liveried Porsche 917. In 1970 he won the sports car world championship also in a 917 and a further accolade was gained in May 1971, at the 1000-kilometre race of Spa-Francorchamps where he averaged over 249 km/h. This is still the fastest sports car race ever. He died in July 1971, in a Ferrari at the Norisring in Germany, but both brothers become national heroes in Mexico.
Porsche 962 C in Mexico
In 1989 the FIA cut the distances of all sports car world championship rounds to 480km except for Le Mans. During this period the Porsche 962 C is in the hands of customer teams – bringing successes to teams across the world. In 1989 and 1990 drivers such as Thomas Lopez, Jonathan Palmer, Bernd Schneider, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Bob Wollek race at the “Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez”. Stuck remembers: “Of course this was the old circuit, but the crowd was enthusiastic about sports cars. It is a super decision to go back to Mexico. A six-hour race with prototypes like the Porsche 919 Hybrid is just the right thing there.”
The action in Mexico begins today (September 1st) and continues through to the 3rd.