My 956

At the time I rode with Derek Bell at Le Mans I was uncertain about whether it was in a 956 or 962 Porsche.  Both models are visually very similar and were present at the 1985 Le Mans.  New-Man Joest Racing, the eventual winners, had 956s. Rothmans, the factory team for whom Bell was driving, were shown on the entry lists with 962s.  So I assumed my ride, the T car #111, must be a 962.

A few days ago while researching another photograph  I came across an amazing website http://www.racingsportscars.com/.  They state: “A primary focus is to create a huge photo archive containing all major national and international sports car races and to collect views of every single car in the field.”   It is a fantastic effort and resource.  On the 1985 Le Mans page I found the record of car #111 with its data.  It was a Porsche 956 chassis 009, a T car driven only in practice by Hans-Joachim Stuck, Derek Bell, Vern Schuppan and Al Holbert.  Its best lap was 3:19.720 (the best Rothmans 962 had a 3:14.800).

Now I finally have confirmation I was in a 956 and with its chassis number I was able to determine the car was a real warrior with one the best records of all the 956s.  With Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof driving, 956-009 won seven World Championship 1000 Kilometers races and the title for Stefan Bellof in 1984. I am awestruck I rode in his Championship winning car.

956.009 finished well in several other races and eventually was shipped as a T car to four more.  According to the 962.com registry 009 was acquired in 2004 by a Porsche Dealership in Reading England.  I knew none of these details until two days ago.  I thought the ride was amazing enough and now I am astounded to learn I was in a racecar with such an important history.

My posts have now been updated changing 962 to 956.

This photograph is of a model Porsche 956 I bought at Le Mans in 1985 right after my ride.  For 26 years I’ve always had it nearby.  Its currently sitting on a little shelf in my studio about 10 feet away from where I’m writing.

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