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.

Here ProSpeed Competition's PR manager, Serge Vanbockryck tells the story of the two pink pigs.

Part I (1971)
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.

Considering 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.

Whereas Porsche's 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…

John Wyer's 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 distance record.

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.

Martini Racing 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.

The 917/20 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.

Part Il (2006)
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 pink on.

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…

The 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.


Contents Copyright © All Rights Reserved.