What made Porsche so successful in the U.S.? Certainly the cars themselves were special enough to attract the attention of sport car enthusiasts, but what made these same enthusiasts so sincere and devoted, what makes such large numbers of people believe that a Porsche was the one and only ultimate sports car?
Racing provides the answer, as Porsche always knew that not only does competition improve the breed, but it also attracts a great deal of publicity and attention. And when the race successes are impressive and continuous, sales successes follow. Porsche always raced in Europe in an event in which its cars could compete, and it had no modesty in publicizing its victories.
In the U.S., however, for financial, and logistic reasons, Porsche never really officially raced its own cars. So the gap was filled by a young and very talented group of amateur and semiprofessional drivers who raced their own Porsches, often with great success. In the 1950s and 1960s, one could still buy a car, refine it oneself, and head for the races.
The Porsche Speedsters and Carreras were found to be ideal for this, since they were relatively inexpensive, but always competitive. Many drivers became local legends and many went onto be regional, National, and international champions. Bruce Jennings actively campaigned Porsche cars in the U.S. in those early years and became known as “King Carrera”.
(Ed. Artist Jeff Gamble depicts Bruce Jennings in his ruby red number #77 with the checkered flag waving over his shoulder taking a victory lap at Marlboro Raceway. “King Carrera” is a limited edition commemorative bronze sculpture mounted on a granite base engraved with Porsche 356 Regional and National Champions. For more information you can contact Jeff Gamble at 520-299-6714 or www.GambleART.com).
Reprinted from May 2001 Zuffenhausen News