Daytona 1967
July 1st, 2020
I researched the history of an early 911 a year or two back. It was a spring 1965 car in light ivory ordered through the celebrated Brumos dealership in Jacksonville, Florida. More recently, it found its way to the UK and, mindful of its connections, the new owner was curious as to whether it might have had a period competition history. He supplied some pictures of Peter Gregg – the race-driver owner of Brumos – flinging some early cars around some circuits and asked if any might be his. Unlikely. The pictures were from 1967 and 1968 and the clues –wipers, interior mirrors, door handles, engine lid scripts and so on – were consistent with cars from those years. You would expect Gregg to be using the latest equipment. That said, another image caught my eye. It showed the man himself in racing overalls standing next to an early 911 with coloured stripes on a light background at a circuit. The car had four-screw horn-grilles. It was from 1965. Time for some detective work.

The picture was taken at Daytona – the sticker on the car’s windscreen said as much. The driver next to Gregg was Horst Kwech, part of the Alfa Romeo team that won the under 2-litre class in the Trans-Am series with Giulia GTAs in 1966. We were getting somewhere. The event was the Daytona 300 – the opening round of the following year’s series. As the name suggests, it was a 300-mile race. It was also quick – with the leading cars running at an average of close to 100 mph for a little over three hours. Gregg finished fifth overall and won the under 2-litre class. The race was of wider historical interest. It appears to have been the first time a 911 raced as a saloon car following the FIA and SCCA rulings of the previous year. Porsche duly won the under 2-litre class in the series for the next three years. It may also have been the first time Gregg raced a 911 and the first time he raced with the number 59. He kept it throughout his subsequent career.
Further pictures – including some from the excellent Dave Friedman – showed the Daytona car with a roll hoop and wider American Racing wheels, but otherwise remarkably standard. It had an aerial, and, presumably, a radio. In a nod to aerodynamics, the passenger-side windscreen wiper was removed. That was about it. The obvious question is why was someone like Gregg driving a dated and under-prepared car in a serious race? Contemporary reports provide the explanation. It seems he blew an engine in a different car in practice and borrowed this one for the race. It may not have been a full-on race car, but it was quick enough, according to Car and Driver, to be protested by another team. The protest was later withdrawn. Gregg and co-driver Sam Posey won again at the following round at Sebring, but were back in a later car by then. As a result, the Daytona car remains something of a mystery. It’s not clear where it came from, or where it went to, before and after its three hours of fame. Do let me know if you have any more info!

Now, back to our owner and his car. As ever, the Kardex helpfully set out its spec and early history. The supplying dealer was Brumos and the first owner was from Florida. However, the service entries indicate that the car was in Switzerland in mid-1965. It’s possible it was part of the tourist delivery programme, which allowed US buyers to collect their cars from the factory and tour Europe before shipping them back home. The final entry on the Kardex was at Porsche Southeast, suggesting the car was back in Florida by mid-1966. The trail then runs cold and it isn’t until some years later that the car surfaces again – this time in Australia! From there it found its way to the UK and, once here, it was converted into an actively-campaigned and quick race car by the clever people at Tuthill’s. It has a fastest lap in a 2-Litre Cup round to its name.
So, there you have it. That’s all she wrote. It’s the story of two cars that have much in common. The first was a race car in period and the other is a race car now. It’s possible – probable, even – that their paths crossed at some point in Jacksonville in the mid-1960s. It’s conceivable they could even be the same car. How many light ivory cars did Brumos sell in 1965 anyway? The truth is that I wasn’t able to find out the full story or tie them together more closely. Research is like that. If it was obvious we would already know it and the conclusion is always that more research is required! There’s a book on Brumos and Brundage Motors, as the business was initially known and from which the Brumos name was derived, due soon. Stay tuned!

A previous version of this piece appeared in Classic Porsche magazine.

Robert Barrie E&OE