Two Pink Pigs
The ProSpeed pig was an immense success with media and spectators
alike, at the Zolder 24 Hours. The car was in the newspapers and
received masses of coverage in the live TV broadcasts.
Competition's PR manager, Serge Vanbockryck tells the story of the
two pink pigs.
1971 was the year that marked the end of an era. It was the last
year of the contemporary sportscar rules, as both Ferrari and Porsche
had used the loophole in the CSI's regulations to drive their 512s
and 917s through, seriously upsetting the Commission Sportive Internationale.
Indeed, to curb the top speeds of the 7-litre sportscars from 1968
onwards, the CSI (predecessor to the FISA), had decided to limit
the engine capacity for sportscars to 3000cc. Fearing they mighty
not have enough cars on the grids of the International Manufacturers
Championship, the CSI allowed road homologated sportscar with engines
up to 5 litres in to fill the grids, provided they had been built
in sufficient numbers. But over the years that number had been reduced
from 100 to 50 and finally to 25.
the CSI made their decision in June of 1967, there was little that
could be done by the manufacturers for the 1968 season. But by 1969,
Porsche shocked the world by presenting a new, homologated road-going
sportscar at the Geneva Motor Show: the 917, with a 4.9-litre 12-cylinder
engine. Twenty-five of these magnificent beasts were presented for
homologation to the CSI a little later, who couldn't but grudgingly
homologate the car in Group 5. Ferrari would follow suit with the
512S in 1970, and the 1970 and 1971 sportscar seasons would become
some of the most passionate ever seen.
917 was just "beastly" in 1969, it would be absolutely
monstrous by 1971. Jackie Oliver reached a top speed of 385kph (239mph)
on the Mulsanne Straight in Le Mans driving one of the 917LH "Langhecks",
the ultimate incarnation of one of the mightiest Porsches ever built.
In 1971, Porsche
did not run a proper factory team, but had two "factory-blessed"
teams in Martini Racing and JWA Gulf Racing. For Le Mans, the factory
had promised to build four 917LHs, two for each team, to be entered
alongside a regular 917K. But before the Le Mans test day, Porsche
decide to give one of the 917LH long tailsto the French SERA company,with
the clear order to come up with an aerodynamic hybrid that should
be as nimble as the 917K through corners, but as quick as a 917LH
on the straights. The result was the 917/20, aka Pink Pig, Bertha
Sau, Trüffel-Jäger von Zuffenhausen, cochon rose, etc…
team was initially earmarked to receive the 917/20, but he didn't
quite see it that way and made some calls to Stuttgart to make sure
he was given two proper 917LHs, and not just one plus the hybrid.
Thus the 917/20 ended up with Martini Racing. To make up for not
being able to supply the Martini team with two 917LHs as promised,
Porsche gave them a lightweight magnesium-chassis’d 917K as
well, the car that would ultimately win the race and set an all-time
At the test
day, the 917/20's extra-wide yet short shape caused some insiders
as well outsiders to compare the car with certain pink live stock.
In fact, the 917/20 was so wide, that it couldn't be transported
to the track in one of Porsche's race trucks, but had to be transported
on a German army flatbed Leopard-tank transporter. Incidentally,
the Leopard tank was also a Porsche design.
team manager, Hans-Dieter Dechent, took note of the remarks and
contacted American artist Dick Soderburgh, and by Le Mans race week,
the 917/20 appeared in an overall pink at scrutineering. By the
time qualifying started, the car was "cut up" in dotted
lines indicating the different pork cuts, while all the parts were
neatly named in German. The Pink Pig was born. Dechent had already
upset his sponsor, Martini & Rossi, the year before by creating
the 917 "Psychedelic", which finished in second overall.
This time, however, Count Rossi was so upset that he forbade the
car to carry any Martini logos and promptly left the track.
The image below
is 'borrowed' from Michael Cotton's recent book "24:16",
the autobiography of Norbert Singer (reviewed here)
- which shows the 1971 race winner, above two photographs of the
917/20, with Norbert Singer in the one on the left.
ran a solid race in the hands of Willi Kauhsen and Reinhold Joest,
and ran as high as third overall. After twelve hours of racing,
however, Joest crashed at Arnage, and at the time the cause was
considered to be a driver error. The car was put back on the truck
to Stuttgart, where the bodywork was repaired, and it was then put
in the museum, never to race again. It wasn't until the late eighties,
when American historic car specialist Jerry Sutterfield was asked
to properly restore the car, that the real cause of the accident
became known: the brake pads were completely worn and almost melted
to the discs. The Porsche engineers had actually calculated the
brake pad wear on a 917K, but forgetting the lesser drag of the
917/20. In other words: the Pink Pig arrived at a much higher speed
at the braking zones, thus using the brake pads much quicker.
35 years later, exactly one week before the Zolder 24 Hours race
week started, ProSpeed Competition decide to recreate the Pink Pig
for this one race. It took two days to convince the sponsors, as
their logos will not appear on the car in their corporate colours.
Then it takes another full day to locate the last roll of pink fablon
available in Europe (all racing Porsches are white, so the car had
to be completely "stickered" in pink). It is finally found
in Amsterdam and shipped to Liège, where it takes a full
two days to take the regular blue livery off the car and put the
An extra difficulty
is the fact that the font for the German names like Haxen, Rückenspeck,
Schwanz etc, doesn't exist in anymore in digital form, so it has
to be recreated by hand, as does the racing number. Through lack
of time, the livery is finally finished while the car is already
queuing for scrutineering, just as it was 35 years ago…
result of the Return Of The Pink Pig, was a bit better than the
original. After 6 and 12 hours, when championship points are awarded,
Rudi Penders, Franz Lamot, Kurt Dujardyn and Karl Jacobs ran in
the class lead, but a change of nose section and brake pads (!),
later followed by a halfshaft and an engine running low on fuel,
dropped the car back to seventh overall and fourth in class.
But the 911
GTR RS Pink Pig will live on, albeit as a scale model. Francorchamps
Mini Models of Belgium will produce the car in 1/43rd scale, while
Renaissance from France will make a 1/24th scale kit.