The 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans was legendary: Porsche competed with a total of seven 917 cars, two long-tail versions (L) and five short-tail hatchbacks (K) - three of the latter started under the direction of John Wyer, who had recently become a Porsche racing partner. This year also saw a new start to the race with the cars placed in echelon – and now with the drivers already seated in their cockpits with seat belts fastened and engines running. This change to the start was made due to drivers' protests against the classic Le Mans start which many considered dangerous. The traditional start, with drivers running across the road to their stationary cars and then starting the engine, meant some drivers did not fasten their seat belts and drove without wearing them until the first pit stop. The previous year had seen driver John Woolfe tragically die at Le Mans for this very reason.
The 1970 race was run in torrential rain and had promised to be a long-awaited duel between Porsche and Ferrari, who were running a number of 512S. Movie legend Steve McQueen was also slated to drive. However, after a short time, possibly the main Ferrari 512 S competition crashed out of the race followed by the remaining Ferrari 512 cars unbelievably crashing into each other in the pouring rain, putting them out of the race. The Porsche 917, car #23, delivered an absolutely spectacular race, working it’s way through the remaining pack in terrible weather conditions, achieving Porsche’s first ever overall victory at Le Mans.
To the annoyance of the fans, Steve McQueen himself did not receive permission from the insurance company to participate in the race, although he had previously finished second overall in the 12-hour race in Sebring/USA in a Porsche 908 (also with ZF technology in steering and limited slip differential). However, a Porsche 908/02, equipped with impressive cameras, front and rear, took part in the actual race - the footage it collected was used for the classic racing film "Le Mans", starring McQueen. The day after the race, filming for the movie proper began, and the rainy race of 1970 was immortalized in film.