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.
Reprinted from May 2001 Zuffenhausen News