With 18 overall triumphs at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in American endurance racing. But dyed-in-the-wool patriots need not wince; three of Weissach’s Daytona wins (and one of the Sebring triumphs) were achieved by a team of home state heroes: Brumos Racing. To anyone with more than a passing interest in Porsche’s US triumphs, the name is synonymous with success, with Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood’s wins turning the white, red and blue 911s into icons. Brumos’ racing arm was closed in 2013 and in 2015 the dealership’s long and illustrious history was brought to a halt when a buy-out was led by Fields Auto Group, now trading under the “Porsche Jacksonville” banner.
Florida and Zuffenhausen’s synergy has not been completely cast aside though. Based in the south of Florida, Champion Porsche has also tasted the spoils of success on the US endurance scene, all while regularly achieving the accolade of ‘Largest Porsche dealer in America’, a mantle it has maintained since Dave Maraj took over the site in Pompano Beach 29 years ago. The son of a jewellery dealer, Maraj had raced and rallied with minor success in his native Trinidad but, having been out of the motorsport loop since moving to the US in the late 1980s, he had no plans to return to the grid with Champion until, in 1992, a new salesman – Mike Peters – joined the team. Peters’ amateur racing exploits with the Sports Car Club of America reignited Maraj’s flame and, when IMSA’s ‘Supercar’ series visited Miami in 1993, the decision was taken to enter a 964 RS America fresh from Champion’s showroom. With Peters at the wheel, contact with the wall meant that it was hardly an auspicious debut but Champion’s presence had been noticed.
With Maraj convinced by the extra exposure for the dealership, just a few weeks later the 964 (quickly repaired by cannibalising another RSA) raced at the 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing 21st overall and seventh in class. Armed with what Maraj described as “a horse trailer” and “pop-up tent”, Champion’s paddock setup at that initial race marked the team out as the plucky upstarts; the antithesis of Brumos’ slick professionalism. The boss wouldn’t let that be the case for too much longer though. The 1994 season saw the Champion Racing team contest selected IMSA GT races with their own ‘home-built’ 993 Turbo racer. However, tuned to around 800hp, the car was unreliable leaving Maraj (in a new partnership with Michael Colucci Racing) seeking a proven quantity for the following year. He found it in Porsche’s new 993 GT2, the latest track weapon for customer race teams. Unveiled in racing spec at the Essen Motor Show in November 1994, the original 911 GT2’s story actually began the year before at Sebring, where Porsche entered the one-off964 Turbo S LM-GT. Homologated by the Exclusive-built Turbo S, the LM-GT was powered by a bespoke 3.2-litre flat six, its 480hp transmitted via the huge rear slicks housed inside inflated arches, while an enlarged, adjustable version of the 3.8 RS rear wing helped to keep it all in check. In the hands of the Brumos squad, Walter Röhrl (the project’s development driver), Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck won the Invitational GT class.
Lady Luck did not shine on the duo at Le Mans though; the French enduro race featured a GT class for the first time since 1985, but the 964 was out of contention due to a crash. Further successes for the LM-GT in the inaugural BPR series in 1994 with Larbre Competition convinced customer motorsport boss, Jürgen Barth, that a cross between the RSR and the soon-to-be unveiled 993 Turbo was needed for the 1995 season. The result was the GT2. In competition trim, the GT2 featured a number of changes over the production car debuted at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show, not least in the engine bay where a new M64/81 flat six turned out 550hp at 6,000rpm when running at full boost without an air restrictor. Even in BPR spec, the motor made an improved 450hp, requiring a beefed up G50/54 six-speed gearbox. The limited-slip differential’s locking effect was also increased for racing, providing 40 per cent lock under acceleration and 65 per cent when coasting (compared to the road car’s 25:40). The bulging plastic arches (8mm wider at the front) were designed with the rigours of competition in mind. Bolted on to the wide-body 993 Turbo shell, the flares were easily replaceable in the event of contact with other cars and provided a lightweight solution to housing the widened centre-lock BBS wheels. Aluminium door skins and a stripped out interior meant that, despite the large fuel tank and air jack system, the 993 GT2 racers hit the scales at just 1,150kg, nearly 150kg lighter than the road car. Dealing through Alwin Springer (the famed founder of ANDIAL), Maraj ordered his GT2 directly through the factory, with chassis no. 3062 delivered just before the 1995 season. To make the most of this top-line racer, Champion put together its most formidable driver line-up yet, anchored by Canadian sports car stalwart, Bill Adam and exfactory ace, Stuck.