Works Porsche 956 - the definitive history by Serge van Bockryck

Buy the book directly at Porter Press International, and get 10% discount by using the code LFP10

Book review

There is no way around. The Porsche 956, unleashed in 1982, is the most successful purpose-built race car in the history of sportscar racing. The Porsche 956, and its successor, the Porsche 962 collected victories and championships as if it were nothing. What do you think about a record of 7 times Le Mans 24H, 6 times Daytona 24H,  4 times Sebring 12H 39 world championship events and 55 IMSA races? The impressive race at the 1986 Le Mans 24H, with no less than 9 Porsches in the top 10 is engraved in the memory of many sports car enthusiasts. Many of the previously mentioned successes were achieved by the cars entered by the Porsche factory team. The legendary Rothmans livery decorated the Porshe factory Porsche 956s in most races. And these are the cars that are the subject of the book “Works Porsche 956 – The definitive history” by Serge Vanbockryck. 

In the 80s, the author Serge Vanbockryck has been covering endurance racing for magazines and newspapers.  The impressive Porsche 956 took his attention from the first time Vanbockryck noticed them on the track. And since then, he has been documenting and gathering all possible racing and test data on Porsche 956s and Porsche 962s (and their derivatives). That makes Serge Vanbockryck one of the world’s foremost historians on the subject.

Works Porsche 956 - The definitive history by Serge Vanbockryck
Works Porsche 956 – The definitive history : 2 volumes in slipcase

In the 3 decades that Serge Vanbockryck has been documenting the history of the Porsche 956, he has gone through thousands and thousands of pages of information, many of them deriving from the Porsche Archives who gave full acces to the author.  Interviews with dozens of people involved in the development, production and racing of the Porsche 956 gave the author a complete insight in the history of this iconic cars.

2 Volume book

So far, we haven’t found a book that brings so much detailed information of the Porsche 856 to the reader.  The first volume of “Works Porsche 956 – the definitive history” focusses on the race history of Porsche, starting with the Porsche 356 Gmünd.  One might think that the Porsche race cars of the 50s on have nothing to do with the Porsche 956. However, that’s not completely the truth with Porsche race cars. You could say that all Porsche race cars bear the same DNA, no matter whether it is a 1500cc or a 5.0 Liter engine, a 4 cylinder or an 8. And after all, it is the dominance of race cars like the Porsche 917 and Porsche 935, that forced the changes of the rules of racing. And in the 1980s, that finally led to the Group C racing, and the Porsche 956.

Works Porsche 956 - The definitive history - Serge Vanbockryck
Sample page Works Porsche 956 – The definitive history

Volume 1

… continues with the complete design and development process of the Porsche 956 by the team llead by Norbert Singer.  The book describes all the design stages, from the drawing table to the wind tunnel models, the construction of prototypes and the first test drives by Jürgen Barth at Porsche’s test-track in Weissach. In the 2nd part of Volume 1, the exploits of the Porsche 956 in racing season 1982 and 1983 are described in detail : each race of the World Championship season is covered. That includes numerous period pictures, some of them Porsche archive pictures, others from different photographers. Many of those pictures have never been published before. 

Volume 2

… starts with the racing season 1984 and 1985, in the same detailed way as the previous racing seasons in Volume 1. Furthermore, Serge Vanbockryck puts the persons behind the success of the Porsche 956 in the spotlight. All major key players are profiled. That includes engineers like Norbert Singer and Roland Kussmaul. But ofcourse the Porsche works drivers aren’t forgotten : Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood, Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Stefan Bellof, Al Holbert, Hans-Joachim Stuck… and that’s just some of them. 

Very interesting to read is the part that describes the relationship between Porsche and the main sponsor Rothmans. How many of you know that Rothmans introduced the onboard cameras in racing ? Completely the standard nowadays, but revolutianary back then.  

Sample page Works Porsche 956 - The definitive history
Sample page Works Porsche 956 – The definitive history

History of every Porsche 956 chassis of the Porsche factory team

A large part of Volume 2 tells the complete history of cars of the Porsche factory team.. The author gives exhaustive detail about every works Porsche 956, including technical details and reports of every test and every race. You’ll learn about gear ratios and compression ratios, drivers and racers. All information gathered by Vanbockryck in a research that took him 3 decades, numerous interviews, and visiting Group C races around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. But, the author does not forget recent history, and still visits historic races and auctions. 

This is the first part of his project, a two-volume production about the Works 956s, with a second such title on the Works 962s to follow in the summer of 2020. “Works Porsche 956 – the definitive history” is limited to 956 copies. 

Conclusion

Every once and a while we become ecstatic about a book. But we can hardly remember when we were as ecstatic about one as by reading “Works Porsche 956 – the definitive history” by Serge Vanbockryck. This is an absolute masterpiece that deserves a major place in the library of any motorsport enthusiast. At a retail price of £ 450.00 GBP,  we could not call that cheap. But,  it is worth every cent. 

Buy the book directly Porter Press International, and get 10% discount by using the code LFP10

Works Porsche 956 - the definitive history Book Cover Works Porsche 956 - the definitive history
Ultimate Cars
Serge van Bockryck
Motorsport
Porter Press International
September 2019
Hardcover , slipcase
800 pages, 850 images
978-1-907085-98-7