Throughout the history of motorsports, no race has as many fans or historical cachet as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Those few drivers and race cars that have earned a checkered flag are forever anointed in the pantheon of motorsports greats. But even among these champions, there are a chosen few remembered by history as the greatest among the greats.
The Porsche 917 won the automaker its first of 17 Le Mans victories, kicking off an era of German dominance in endurance racing that continues to this day. To celebrate its victory over rival Audi at the 2015 running of Le Mans, the Porsche 917 was brought out of retirement for shakedown runs ahead of Rennsport Reunion V at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The 917 is iconic both in its presence and the sound it gives off, with high-tech V12 engines in both 4.9 and 4.5 liter displacements putting out a mechanical symphony with every blip of the throttle. Though it is credited with just two Le Mans wins, the 917 brought down records, going over 224 MPH at Le Mans and thoroughly crushing the competition at almost every event. It could be argued that the 917 is the car that made Porsche a household name, and something of an automotive superpower.
Porsche took an extended break from Le Mans, with its last win (prior to this year) coming in 2007 at the hands of none other than Patrick Long. It seemed only proper to have the famous Porsche driver on hand for 917 shakedown runs, and he also turned up this weekend’s festivities at Laguna Seca. Porsche has been firing on all cylinders through 2015, and what better way to close out a great year than with a visit from an old and treasured friend?