This IMSA GTU Porsche 911 was built by Karl Durkheimer of Portland, Oregon, USA in 1985.
Karl had previously raced a 911 them moved up a class to GTO to race a Corvette, but he missed the handling and feel of his old 911, so he had a GTU spec car specially designed and built to race in the IMSA GTU class.
Karl Durkheimer's new home-built Porsche 911 race car was transported from Portland, Ore., to Florida in an enclosed trailer, towed by a new six-seat truck for the start of the SunBank 24 Hours of Daytona yesterday.
The new race car and hauler were an unaccustomed luxury for Durkheimer. As a privateer on a low budget, he competes against well-financed factory-backed teams in the GTU class of the International Motor Sports Association's Camel GT road racing series. Last season he finished fifth in the final point standing, running against teams that outspent his by a margin of 3 or 4 to 1.
Durkheimer's main crew - Ricky Elverud, who works full time on the car, and Norton Gaston, who works as Durkheimer can afford to pay him -also enjoyed another unaccustomed luxury: sleeping in a motel while heading to a race. Constant Watch
Last year Elverud and Gaston (and Durkheimer when he could afford time off from his job with a radar-detector accessory company) drove straight through the night on their way to races. They avoided motels not because of the cost, but because the race car was towed behind a 13-year-old pickup on an open trailer that provided no protection against thieves or vandals.
''The car is my life,'' Durkheimer said. ''If someone stole it, I'd be finished.''
On those occasions when the team did stop for the night, its members took turns staying up to watch the truck and its precious cargo. The engine and transmission of the race car came from an earlier Porsche that Durkheimer had raced, while the suspension was scavenged from an abandoned Corvette race car. A frame cobbled up from steel tubes connected the mechanical components and supported a body that, Durkheimer said, ''the IMSA officials asked us to replace because it was too ugly.''
''Our budget, or what we actually spent?'' Durkheimer responded when asked about the cost of competing on the 16-race, coast-to-coast Camel series. ''We spent $160,000 last year. That was much more than we had budgeted.'' A Lift from Success
Durkheimer's racing is partly supported by sponsorship from V. Polak, which is also his employer, and Cincinnati Microwave, a radar-detector manufacturer. Last season Durkheimer had planned to run in only 10 races, two of them - the endurance races at Daytona and Sebring - with another team. But good finishes in several early races put the 32-year-old Durkheimer in third place in the point standing, and the prize money provided the money to enter more events.
''Goodyear gave us some help with the tires, and we got some local sponsorship at a couple of the races. Every little bit helps,'' said Durkheimer, who worked in his family's restaurant before going to work for V. Polak. ''From working in the restaurant I learned to treat racing as a business,'' he said. ''I still put money into it out of my own pocket, but I look at it as an investment in my future as a race driver.''
Volunteers, including local residents at each race site, help out on the pit crew during the races. Durkheimer's wife does the team's timing and scoring, while his parents watch their two young children at home in Portland. Big Crew for Long Grind
At Daytona, where there is no rest for 24 hours, the eight-member pit crew will get at least as tired as Durkheimer and his co-drivers, Monte Shelton, who is a Portland car dealer and veteran racer, and Jim Torres. Bigger teams have as many as 20 crew members to service their cars during the long grind.
The new car is the first one that Durkheimer has had that was fully designed on paper before construction began. It took a year to build and it uses better, more reliable parts than his earlier cars. Durkheimer hopes that a successful season will permit him to give up his office job.
''If we can make the transition to full-time professional racing, that would be nice,'' Durkheimer said. ''But if it doesn't work out, that's O.K.''
The car then passed through several hands before being bought by Tony Canahuate in the Dominican Republic. Tony further developed the car with the aid of Porsche wiz Dave Jarvis of Jarvis Tech with sponsorship from Quakerstate Oil (now part of Shell). This resulted in several Championship wins in Latin America.
|The car was run from 1985 to 1987 in IMSA championship.