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GTP: Mosport 1981

August 30, 2009 by GTP.com · 1 Comment 

You’re starting last at Mosport in the newest, fastest machine on the sportscar scene, the Lola-T600.

You have six hours to slice through the three dozen cars, so time isn’t a major concern, but with the grid filled with bullet-like Porsche turbos, making it to the front won’t be the easiest of undertakings. Throw into the mix that like most tracks of this time, the daunting, brutally fast circuit has yet to receive many of the safety measures we take for granted today, and the race appears to have more chances for calamity than success.

Welcome to the world of sportscar legend Brian Redman and co-driver Eppie Wietzes, sharing the yellow #7 Cooke-Woods Racing car 28 years ago this month.

On that day in Mosport — August 16th, 1981 — Porsche prevailed as veterans Rolf Stommelen and Harald Grohs piloted their Andial Meister 935 to victory, despite a storming drive by Redman and Canadian Trans-Am veteran Wietzes to take second place.

After years of road car-themed Porsches, namely the 935 silhouettes, Lola unveiled the first serious alternative to GT racing (then classified as ‘GTX’) by bringing a real GTP solution to North America.

Facing a large horsepower deficit, Redman and Wietzes used all of the power their 5.7L Chevy V-8 had to offer, and relied heavily on the Lola’s advanced aerodynamics and superior downforce to scythe through the competition.

While it was still early in its development at Mosport, the T600’s massive underwing and sleek shape fulfilled everything IMSA founder John Bishop hoped the new GTP regulations would represent.

Thanks to the Lola, Porsche 935 owners knew their best days were behind them.

Many of the great sportscar names from the period were there at Mosport — Derek Bell in a Porsche 934, David Hobbs and Hans Stuck in a BMW M1, Hurley Haywood sharing a Bayside 935 with team owner Bruce Leven, Bobby Rahal and Gianpiero Moretti in their Momo-liveried 935, Bob Akin and Skeeter McKitterick in their Coke 935…Porsche icon Bob Garretson…Jim Busby and John Fitzpatrick…Spanish racer ‘Jamsal’…it was a packed grid.
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The locals were also well represented, with esteemed Canadian driver Bill Adam in the race (driving a brutish Camaro), along with Uli Bieri, Ludwig Heimrath Jr. and Sr., and a large contingent of skilled professionals and enthusiastic gentlemen racers.

Look beyond the heavy hitters, and a few mechanical oddities made their way onto the grid — Porsche 914/6s, and even (take a deep breath) a Triumph TR-8!

Five wins in the GTP-class Lola helped to deliver the 1981 IMSA GT driver’s crown to Redman, yet Porsche’s sheer numbers meant Lola would have to settle for second in the manufacturer’s contest.

Enjoy this 38 minute highlight reel of the event — Redman’s Lola makes extensive use of in-car footage during the race — well ahead of its time in 1981.

Learn more about the ALMS by visiting www.AmericanLeMans.com.

(Video courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

GTP: 1981 Mosport IMSA GT Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1981 Mosport Yearbooka

1981 Mosport Yearbook 2a

GTP: Hotchkis At The Historics

August 24, 2009 by Mark Hotchkis · 1 Comment 

Evolving from the all-conquering 956, the Porsche 962 made its debut at the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours and immediately showed incredible potential. Hotchkis Racing purchased the Porsche-commissioned Fabcar tub #962F01 from Holbert Racing in the summer of 1986, and has owned it ever since. As a kid, I remember staring through the same chain-link fence (which separated pit lane from the paddock area at almost every race track), watching my father John, co-driver Jim Adams and various other drivers — Chris Chord, Rob Dyson, Bob Kirby and my older brother John — all pilot the flame-belching purple Wynn’s car.

From the tight confines of the streets of Miami to the high banks at Daytona, the Hotchkis Racing 962 served as a dependable warhorse and never disappointed.

Today, the car lives in a deep, dark storage in Southern California, rarely seeing the light of day except for those one-time special events like the Rennsport Reunion and of course, the Rolex Monterey Historics. When we received our acceptance for the 962 at this year’s event, it was time to awaken the beast, dust her off and shake her down at a local track. All systems were go and considering the brief on-track time during the Historic weekend, we decided new tires would be a unnecessary, so we utilized our Goodyear rubber from the Rennsport Reunion in 2007.

Mark Hotchkis (L) poses with Gunnar Jeanette before their 10-lap race at the 2009 Historics. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

Mark Hotchkis (L) poses with Gunnar Jeanette before their 10-lap race at the 2009 Historics. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)


Once we arrived at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and settled-in, it was time to head out for our first of two practice sessions. Our Porsche 962 is a 3.2ltr air-cooled single Garret turbo car, as opposed to a twin turbo water-cooled car. The engine is maintained by Porsche Motorsport North America and features the twin plug ignition of the later IMSA air-cooled 962’s, as opposed to the early single-plug, side intercooler engine. There is no mistaking an air cooled 962 engine as it warms up in the paddock. It tends to spit, shake and rumble at idle but is very crisp at the same time. For all of roughness while warming up, it clears up once it’s revved and the whine of the powerful horizontal fan takes over — almost like a supercharger sound.

Call me demented, but I could listen to the engine struggle at idle all day long – it’s too cool!

What is it like to drive a Porsche 962 at speed during the Historics? Although my time behind the wheel of this car is quite limited, it is without a doubt one of the most comfortable and confidence-inspiring race cars ever manufactured. As I slip down into the cockpit, I immediately recognize the well-planned ergonomics, all controls at my finger tips and a seat that anyone could easily fall asleep in.

Operating the 962 is quite simple: strap in, adjust the mirrors, take a deep breath then turn the key to start the engine. That’s right, the 962 utilizes a keyed ignition right out of a 911! Once the engine has lit, cockpit noise is dominated by the whirl of the horizontal fan. Select first gear — over to the left — pull back, and we’re off. The 962 uses a five speed synchro transmission with second through fifth gears set on a standard H-pattern. Accelerating up to speed, the engine’s fan gets drowned-out by the building turbo pressure and raw grunt of the Porsche flat-six.

Boost builds progressively and not at all like an on/off switch which one may think would be the case if they simply looked at the size of the turbo. Under hard acceleration, at 70 inches of mercury, it sounds as though an early-style jet engine is chasing from behind, but as the throttle is cracked for the next braking point, the twin wastegates make an instant loud chirp through the exhaust primary.

Our ten lap race for this year’s Historic was far too short. It should really be fifty minutes to an hour, or at least a fuel tank’s worth of running! We started on pole with Gunnar Jeannette alongside in the Kremer K8. Approaching the flag stand on the front straight it’s typical to hold the brake pedal with your left foot and build some boost with the right foot. At the green flag we both accelerated pretty well but I probably should have made it a second gear start instead of spinning the rears in first gear, but it all worked out entering Turn 2. Gunnar applied the pressure into the brake zones and through the turn-in points as I struggled for front grip.

The purple beast lines up alongside the Kremer K8 as the grid prepares to roll. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

The purple beast lines up alongside the Kremer K8 as the grid prepares to roll. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)


The Hotchkis 962 utilizes a spool instead of a limited-slip differential and I still have not adjusted to it. This setup requires an aggressive corner entry with some rear brake bias to help rotate the car, and then to catch it with the throttle, otherwise the front end simply understeers too badly. For the first two or three laps Gunnar was right there, carrying monster corner speed while I was able to gap him in a straight line. As the pressures and temperatures began to build, the car came alive and I could get into a rhythm and concentrate on not making any mistakes and enjoying the brief time I had with such an incredible race car.

Aerodynamically and mechanically our car had good balance. The tunnels under the 962 really help with downforce and as speed builds the suction builds, and that is felt immediately through the steering wheel; it takes added effort to make even the slightest input. Braking during the race was pretty good. I don’t know if it was our old tires or the slick track or both but I would lock both the front and the rear separately at different brake points during the race. For example, I locked the inside front entering turn 2 and at the top of the corkscrew and locked the rears entering turn 11. Otherwise, the big Brembos hauled the car down at a good clip.

For the last four laps of the race I felt strong and mistake-free. Our car encountered traffic and simply sliced its way through, never skipping a beat and it gave me a chance to take it all in — the amazing engine sounds from behind me, the remarkable grip and ease of placement the 962 allows. Compared to other prototypes of the ‘80’s, the 962 is so comfortable and feels softly sprung without a lot of roll resistance so the knife-edge grip loss (common with other GTP cars) simply does not exist.

That’s probably the main reason why many drivers can step into this car and build confidence quickly – it’s that friendly. We went on to win the ten lap super-sprint and it all seemed to end almost as quickly as it began.

It was another race in the books for the Hotchkis 962 and I hate to say it, but now she’ll head back to the dark, dungeon-like storage facility. The purple beast will stay there until it’s time to be awakened again for another special Porsche event in the future.

GTP: Hotchkis Porsche 962 In-Car, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1986 Porsche 962 Engine Warmup

August 19, 2009 by GTP.com · 1 Comment 

If you listened to yesterday’s Porsche 956 engine warmup audio, you might have noted the slightly staccato, somewhat silky quality of the twin turbo 2.65L flat-6 motor.

Big turbo, big power. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

Big turbo, big power. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)


Today it’s time to listen to that motor’s evil twin, the single turbo, air-cooled 3.2L motor in the back of Hotchkis Racing’s 1986 Porsche 962.

It pops, it growls, it snarls, and at times, it even rumbles like an American V-8.

We move our microphone around a bit to hear the different ancillaries — the turbo (at 1:06), the valvetrain (at 1:16) and the air cooling fan (at 1:53) to revel in the brilliance of Weissach’s iconic endurance powerplant.

GTP: 1986 Porsche 962 Engine Warmup from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Porsche 956 Warmup Audio

August 18, 2009 by Marshall Pruett · 2 Comments 

Pick your choice of flat-6 please; do you prefer the staccato sounds of the 2650cc twin turbo, water-cooled motor in the 1983 Joest Racing Porsche 956, or do you like the rumbling, basso, dragster-like nature of the 3200cc single turbo, air-cooled German mill?

1983 Porsche 956. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

1983 Porsche 956. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)


Take a listen to the twin turbo variant, and we’ll post the giant single turbo’s warmup tomorrow.

GTP: 1983 Porsche 956 Engine Warmup from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Mazda’s Wailing Wankel: The 1992 RX-792P

August 17, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

I hope I’ll be able to hear the Mazda RX-792P this weekend as Patrick Dempsey’s pilots the car around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I say that I hope I’ll be able to hear it because after my last encounter with the car seventeen years ago, I’m still mostly deaf from the experience.

The hellfire and fury that is the Mazda RX-792P is back to delight and deafen an all new audience. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

The hellfire and fury that is the Mazda RX-792P is back to delight and deafen an all new audience. (© GrandTouringPrototype.com)

The RX-792P might be the most unapologetic GTP car of all time. It was unapologetically loud, hot, and amazingly good looking. Penned by Can-Am and IndyCar engineer and designer Lee Dykstra, the RX-792P never achieved the success it was meant to on the racetrack, but in the worlds of marketing and corporate image, the silver GTP cars made a lasting impact.

Our friend “Mulsanne Mike” Fuller has some nice technical tidbits on the car at his site, and while we’ll soon have our own technical appraisal  some new in-car footage to offer, our focus for the Historics is to help Mazda’s fans relive the era when the RX-792P originally raced.

So, step back into 1992 with us and experience Mazda’s GTP effort through race broadcasts, a photo gallery and the RX-792P’s press kit.

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

1992 New Orleans GTP Race:

GTP: 1992 New Orleans IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 1 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1992 New Orleans IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 2 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1992 Road Atlanta GTP Race:

GTP: 1992 Road Atlanta IMSA GTP Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

And the final event for the RX-792P, the 1992 Del Mar GTP Race:

GTP 1992 Del Mar IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 1 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1992 Del Mar IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 2 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

While this video isn’t of the RX-792P, it is of Mazda’s win at Le Mans in 1991. (Video Courtesy of Mazda)

Le Mans: Mazda 1991, We Won the Day from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Bob Akin Racing

August 15, 2009 by Marshall Pruett · Leave a Comment 

One of the featured cars at the 2009 edition of the Monterey Historics is the Bob Akin Racing Porsche 962 from 1985. Piloted at the Historics by Bobby Akin Jr., the famous Coke-liveried 962 was resurrected after a frightening crash suffered by Akin Sr. when he was hit by a spinning John Paul Jr. at the 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP race.

While Akin walked away unharmed, the same could not be said for his 962. After a long and careful restoration by renowned Porsche specialist Kevin Jeanette, Akin Jr., a successful IMSA racer in his own right (most notably while driving Jack Roush’s Ford Muston GTO cars), will give fans a great look at the red-and-white Porsche for the first time in almost 25 years.

Legendary Porsche sportscar entrant and driver Bob Akin, circa 1985.

Legendary Porsche sportscar entrant and driver Bob Akin, circa 1985.

In an interview I did this week with former Bob Akin Racing driver Hans Stuck, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner had nothing but fond recollections of his time spent racing for the Akins in the 1980s.

“I had a fabulous relationship with the Akin family. They became good friends for me because they were very smart about racing in IMSA, but they also brought very much closeness to the team. As they say, ‘our family is your family,’ and this is exactly how they treated me. Bob’s wife, his son, his daughters – they are all very special to me. His son Bobby and I still keep in touch and email each other!”

As a factory driver for Porsche, Stuck was responsible for the testing and development of the IMSA-spec 962, but it when Akin Racing inquired about assistance from a factory driver for their 935, Stuck was quick to accept the offer.

“An opportunity came through Mr. Jurgen Barth at Porsche, and I was asked if I wanted to drive a Porsche 935 for an important customer in the United States. The 935 fascinated me, so I said ‘Yes!’ immediately. This was the start of great times for us and for me especially. With the Porsche 962, Bob Akin Racing was a very serious team. Myself, Jo Gartner and Bob Akin did many races together, including what I think must be one of the team’s biggest successes, the win at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1986. People ask me about this race victory today more than many other achievements in my career.”

Akin was well known as an IMSA team owner and driver, but Stuck made it clear that Bob Sr. was more than a businessman with a racing team. His driving skills were essential to the team’s success.

“Bob was a fantastic driver for what we call a ‘gentleman drivers.’ He was as fast as or faster than most of the drivers in the series — very, very good. He hired me and Jo Gartner as the professional drivers for the team and always knew best how to use us. He was a very smart businessman like that. He knew that his sponsors wanted the car to qualify as high as possible, so Bob never questioned this, never let his ego get in the way. Some team owners that also raced their cars insisted on qualifying, or starting the race because it made them feel important. Bob was never this way. He was very quick and very accomplished, but he allowed Jo and I to help the team when extra speed was needed. The trust we had in each other, and for us in him as our co-driver was magnificent.”

While Bob Akin passed away in 2002 at the age of 66 from injuries suffered while testing a Nissan GTP car at Road Atlanta, Stuck says he’s reminded of his old friend when he looks at the accomplishments of Akin’s son.

“Bobby is very much like his father. A very fast racecar driver and a very strong businessman. When we raced in GTP, Bobby was young but starting his own career in GTO and GTU. We even shared a car together at one race, a Porsche 944, and that was fun.

“My best memory of Bobby from those times was one night when we had dinner at the hotel we stayed at. Jo and Bobby were sharing a room across from mine, so I excused myself for a moment from the table, went and got a key to their room and turned up the heater to 95 degrees. We ate dinner for some time after that so it became very hot – like a sauna. When they opened the door it was like they were hit by the sun! They opened all the windows and kept the door open for quite some time so it could cool down and they could go to sleep. I still laugh when I think about this today!”

GrandTouringPrototype.com will have an in-depth video interview with Bobby Akin from the Monterey Historics, but in the meantime, enjoy the items below.

First is the 1985 Bob Akin Racing Press Kit.

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar below)

Next, we have the 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP race broadcast where Akin’s 962 was heavily damaged.

GTP: 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 1 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1985 Charlotte IMSA GTP Race Broadcast pt 2 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

Finally, we have a brief photo gallery of the car in action in 1985 and from the Pre-Historics just last weekend. More photos will be added to the gallery over the weekend, so please check back.

(To see the fill-sized images, click the icon at the far right of the menu bar above)

GTP: Mazda RX-792P Engine Warm Up

August 15, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

Why waste words on what should be heard! Here are four rotors of fury being warmed up in the paddock at the Monterey Historics.

2009 Monterey Historics 009a

GTP: 1992 Mazda RX-792P Engine Warmup from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Sounds Of Laguna Seca IMSA GTP, 1987

August 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

What happens when a 16-year-old Marshall Pruett drives down to Laguna Seca to watch the 1987 IMSA GTP race with a camera in one hand and a tape recorder in the other?

First, he takes a bunch of photos that range from blurry to overexposed. Second, he fashions a hook out of a coat hanger to suspend his tape recorder from the fence on the outside of turn 2, then captures some of the most delightful sounding racing cars he’s ever heard.

More than twenty years later, and with that cassette tape somehow managing to remain intact, I transferred the audio to my laptop, cleaned it up as best I could, and posted it below.

The warbling sound at the beginning of the tape is accurate — it’s a driver pumping the brakes to warm them up, hence the engine note rising and falling. From there, the first big HOLY %$!* burst of sound (at 00:41) is a Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 streaking by at full chat.

I don’t know all of the physics and mechanics behind it, but the Group 44 V-12 engines had a completely different sound than the TWR V-12s. The XJR-9s and 12s had more bass — they had equal parts Motown Soul and Memphis funk coming from their exhausts.

Group 44’s had more treble and lived at a higher register — they were operatic in the tinny heights they reached. I still grin today whenever I hear this tape.

Take a listen and experience the Jags, Porsche 962, Buick and Chevy turbos, a Ford V-8, and variety of Pontiac and Mazda-powered Lights cars as they sounded back in 1987.

GTP: 1987 Sounds of Laguna Seca from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: Porsche Photo Retrospective

August 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

With Porsche serving as the featured marque for this weekend’s 36th annual Monterey Historics event, we’ve assembled 270 photos in three different photo galleries of the German constructor’s finest prototypes.

A special thanks goes out to Porsche Cars North America and Dyson Racing for their photo contributions.

(To see the full-sized images in each gallery, click the icon at the bottom right on the menu bar.)

GTP: Laguna Seca Camel GT Program Covers

August 14, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

A look at some of the program covers for Laguna Seca’s Camel GT between 1975 and 1984.

(To see the full-sized images in each gallery, click the icon at the bottom right on the menu bar.)

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