In the beginning it was a 911 no one would want.
The chap that brought it to me had promised a lovely clean and original 911, just the sort of thing I like. When it rolled up the reality was rather different than what I had been promised. I could see it from my office chair. This was a 911 that had been damaged and reapaired to a very low standard. It was still bent and buckled, it only loosely resembeld a 911 and I would like to know who on earth could have ‘repaired’ it so badly and called it a done job.
The seller was very very keen to let me have it, and the more i resisted, the lower the price became until we were at the level where just selling it for parts would be viable. So reluctantly I hopped in and tried it up the road, it wandered alarmingly, partly no doubt due to the chassis leg not being attached int he manner that Stuttgart intended and partly due to a steering rack that was so worn/damaged that made it more akin to driving a sit upon mower. But……the suprise was that this old girl had a good heart. All that was left was to decide what to do with it and that definitely didnt include seeling it from my business as a road car.
Enter our hero, Jeff Alson. He is a long term Porsche customer and friend living in Prague, and he wanted a 911 for the basis of a cheap race car project. This was simply a great plan. Even more so because it gave me the opportunity to get back into a little racing, for fun rather than serious and whats more….in a Porsche. Team Alson and his associates over the border in Poland spent a few Euros on the old girl, a bit of this and that and created a budget endurance racer which could be used in the ‘allcomers’ events in the Chezch republic. Jeff needed some team mates for the next 12 hours of Bruno and so a mere week or two before the event a rigorous selection program began. Jeff demanded the best, and after a very arduous interview, a little money and a race suit we had our driver lineup.
A cunning part of the planning was that for quick driver common sense dictate all drivers of similar stature. So we had the super lightweight Jeff, who must be said was very very keen and serious (to look like Steve Mc Queen), then the sturdy cornishman Richard Williams, and finally me. Further team planning over many beers dictated that the most suitable man to start was me. The final hurdle was to actually get there on time. This we did.
One unusual element of this International event was that there was no practise, no qualifying, in fact we begged to be able to walk the track. So grid position was decided by em eerrr …..a means that we have no clue about at all as we dont speak the language. The only words we understood at the 6.00 drivers briefing was chequered flag.
There was ‘varied’ competition; a 7 liter Ultima, Radicals, Caterhams, several old E36 and E39 DTM M3, an Ariel Atom,
Even an old 944 in gulf colours, Clio’s, Golf’s frankly anything with wheels and a race number seemed to be on the grid. We were on the 4th row so a great spot to watch the action. The organisers had cleverly put the 7 litre Ulitma on the back row.
As the 8.00 start time approached, I checked my mirrors, turned the timing hand on the original 911 clock to 9.50 and got myself settled.
The start was unlike any other race I had experienced. I had been used to the rather desperate cut and thrust of Formula Ford and Formula Renault but this was far more polite. 3 abreast into the 180 degree turn 1 actually worked without a red flag or loosing any paint. The rest of the first lap was an adventure, trying to learn the circuit best I could, still we should have plenty of track time. The big suprise was the engine. Not only did this bog standard 3.2 sound good, it had a heart of gold, we had the legs on lots of supposedly quicker machinery, even holding some of the serious M3 on the straight.
However the corners were a little more challenging. Lack of grip after the first two laps was a real handicap as the cheap tyres soon turned to butter. The best thing was to try to stay off the brakes, not stress the tyres and create as neutral an attitude as I could through the corners. It seemed like in no time at all the old 911 clock was coming up to the two hours pit for a driver change and fuel fill. So coming into the pits on the next lap I found Richard still drinking coffee and telling stories. Clearly my arrival was a suprise.
Richard soon aquainted himself with our 911, putting in the standard of stunt driving rarely seen on a high budget movie, let alone here in Bruno. Coming through the chicane for the first time, swinging first one way, then more wildly the other, a bit more to the left and finally a gracefull, black line showing where he finally got back in charge to the right. This skilled piece of driving forewarned all behind him to best stay there.
Soon though he settled down to a decent pace, and you know, the old girl looked and sounded great, pounding around and around, baring in mind the minimal mods and small budget you couldnt ask for more. Rugged, reliable and reasonably quick. A testamount to this classic Porsche. Enter at close on midday our hero Jeff ‘Mc Queen’ Alson. Having kindly let me and Richard wear his car out first, Jeff took to the track for some further flat chat work. Im hoping that no one reads the blog so we can leap straight to the glory.
Here you can see Richard on the top step of the podium. It felt good. To be perfectly honest, the podium pic was not actually after the chequered flag but some hours before. Well it was an opportunity. Unfortunately we suffered in the afternoon a little transmission glitch that couldnt be solved so had to retire. That didnt spoil our fun at all. We were just sorry for Jeff that the car was going to not make it round.
We had an absolutely brilliant time, and a big thanks to Jeff Alson for organising it, to his team for their efforts and a special thanks to those clever lot at Porsche in the early eighties that created such a great machine.