Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Type: 944 GTR Turbo

David and his GTR at the Museum

This could be one of the rarest of the rare, a 944 GTR.

The 944 GTR is the only Porsche race car with it's roots in the US. Al Holbert contracted with Dave Klym of Fabcar to build seven tube frame chassis based on the 944 ...featuring the 2.5L turbo engine. Al Hobert wanted to race the 944 in the US to boost the 944 performance image. Hence, the 944 GTR was born. The GTRs drew parts from Porsche's extensive racing parts bin incorporating parts from the 928, 935, and 956 models. They also included a Hewland racing gearbox.

In 1986 there were two prominent professional sports car road racing series, IMSA and SCCA Trans -Am, and the SCCA Club racing series(the San Diego based Alan Johnson team ran one of the GTRs in the SCCA Club series competing in GT1 and making it to the National Runoffs at Road Atlanta two years in a row). The Tran-Am series was wildly popular in the mid to late 60's and early 70's when the American manufacturers went head to head with Mustangs, Camaros, AMXs, etc. By the latter part of the 80's the Trans-Am series featured turbo silhouette(looked like street cars when viewed from the side, but pure race car under the skin) racers.

This GTR was owned by Bruce Jenner, not of the Olympics fame and it's crew chief was Max Crawford. Elliot Forbes-Robinson was the driver competing in the Trans-Am Series. The 944 GTR(according to Elliot) was faster then the 935s but was underfunded and under developed, and never reached it's full potential. Al Holbert got pulled off to the Porsche Indy car effort and died in a tragic private plane crash shortly thereafter. However this car did go on to have quite a successful history.

Recently the San Diego Automotive Museum featured a Porsche Race Car Display, this was one of the historic cars invited to participate. It is now owned by David Loynd. He bought the GTR in November of '99 from Jacques Rivard. Rivard has restored quite a few race cars, including the Bob Akin Coca Cola 935. David originally joined PCA in 1990 and started racing a 944 turbo in PCA, POC as well as HSR West. David also ran "Tribute to LeMans" several times winning his class twice and enlisted Steve Livelsberger as a co-driver in several enduros. With the GTR he has raced at Portland and several times with HSR. He says, "To be honest, I never really drove the car very hard, despite two second place finishes. And, I never turned the boost over 1.5 bar, but clearly the engine will take a lot more. I was clocked at 162 at WSIR, the GTR is faster than I am."

He now has the car for sale and is looking for a good home for it. He keeps trying to twist my arm because I know how cool these cars are and boy is it temping.

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