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GTP: 1990 Road Atlanta IMSA GTP Retrospective

September 29, 2010 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

Take a look back at the IMSA GTP race held at Road Atlanta in 1990 and an assortment of other shots from sportscar racing at the famed circuit.

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

GTP: 2010 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Gallery

August 19, 2010 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

Enjoy a collection of 166 photos from the 2010 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, featuring the IMSA GTP class.

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

GTP: Laguna Seca IMSA Broadcast Compilation

October 16, 2009 by GTP.com · Leave a Comment 

The 2009 American Le Mans Series just came to a close at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and in honor of that thrilling season finale, let’s take a look back at some of the exciting IMSA GTP races from the classic track’s past.

All videos are courtesy of the American Le Mans Series.

We’ll start with the 1985 edition.

GTP: 1985 Laguna Seca Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1986

GTP: 1986 Laguna Seca IMSA GTP Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1987

GTP: 1987 Laguna Seca Race Broadcast from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

1993

GTP: 1993 Laguna Seca Race Broadcast pt1 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

GTP: 1993 Laguna Seca Race Broadcast pt2 from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

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: 2009 Monterey Historics Trackside Action

August 19, 2009 by GTP.com · 8 Comments 

Here’s 36 shots from trackside at the 2009 Monterey Historics, featuring the IMSA GTP cars.

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

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: 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.)

Le Mans: Mazda 1991, We Won the Day

February 23, 2009 by Terrance · Leave a Comment 


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

A documentary made by Mazda about their victory at the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans, provided to GrandTouringPrototype.com by our friends at Mazda

GTP: Exciting World of Speed & Beauty

February 16, 2009 by Terrance · Leave a Comment 


GTP: Exciting World of Speed & Beauty from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

A short clip from the show Exciting World of Speed & Beauty from 1986 on the GTP series and cars.

GTP: IMSA, Bigger than Thunder

February 15, 2009 by Terrance · Leave a Comment 


GTP: IMSA, Bigger than Thunder from GrandTouringPrototype.com on Vimeo.

A look inside the IMSA GTP series during the 1988 season, with insightful technical interviews and discussions with the major series and manufacturer officials involved in prototype racing.

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