The Porsche Le Mans story began in 1950 in Paris when Charles Faroux, the director of the 24 Hours Le mans race called for Porsche to participate in France’s most prestigious racing events. To the world’s surprise a very young Porsche (the company was established in 1931 but started making cars only by 1948) decided to enter the most glorious race in the world a year later.
The Porsche Le Mans effort got support from Auguste Veuillet, the future exclusive importer for Porsche in France. He wanted to race in vehicles made by the Zuffenhausen-based carmaker at Le Mans himself. Auguste along with motorsports director Paul von Guilleaume had committed to handle any local organisational matters for Porsche in France. This decision was a brave one on Porsche’s part for many reasons. While Porsche was setup in 1931 as a automotive design and consultation house, the company did not launch their own car till 1948 in the form of the Porsche 356. This made things specially challenging for the young carmaker. Addition to that, it was a political statement as there was still a great deal of resentment among the French for Germans after the war.
After much needed support from Auguste and Paul von Guilleaume, the path of Porsche Le Man effort was open. However, a big question remained, where would Porsche team be based out of? And, once again Auguste rose up to the occasion. He convinced Georges “Jojo” Després, to rent out a part of his garage to Porsche. The garage was located in the small village of Teloché about 4 miles south of Le Mans. While “Jojo” faced criticism from his neighbours for letting Germans in, but he know that it would be an ideal ground for Porsche as the cars could be driven to straight to the circuit without the need of trailers or trucks.
And so in the small village of Teloché, in the humblest possible way Porsche’s efforts to participate in the mighty French race began. Porsche continued to face difficulties during their 1951 Le Mans campaign as their #47 car couldn’t survive testing, leaving the German carmaker only the #46 car to enter with. Despite these setbacks, the #46 Porsche 356 SL took the victory in it’s class in the hands of Auguste and Edmond Mouche, rising up to become an overnight start in the eyes of Germans and the French alike. Porsche’s French and International love affair had just begun.
From the 1950s till the 1980s, Jojo’s garage in Teloché would be the place where Porsche would return every year. The number of participating cars kept on growing and so did the team. In 1954 Porsche’s entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans had grown to four cars that were the Porsche 550 Spyder with a 1.5-litre flat-four engine. By now, the attitude of the villagers at Teloché had changed for the German carmaker as they welcomed them into their homes and cafés, starting conversations and creating new friendships. They would enjoy, encourage even, when the loud Porsche race cars went for test-run through the village and even at night when they came back from practice.
The advent of Group C and the Porsche 956 in the early 1980s saw cars become more technically advanced for which more equipment and a larger team had to be put in place. This meant that Jojo’s garage wasn’t sufficient for continuing Porsche’s Le Mans efforts and soon the mechanics and teams move to work directly at the driver’s camp next to race track.
And like that a three-decade old bond between Porsche’s Le Mans dreams and the village of Teloché was relegated to the books of history.