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Al Holbert's championship-winning Löwenbräu Special Porsche 962.

Alvah Robert "Al" Holbert (November 11, 1946 – September 30, 1988) was an American automobile racing driver who was a five-time champion of the IMSA Camel GT series.[1]

Life and careerEdit

 
Al Holbert's 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 on static display at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV.

Holbert was born in Abington, Pennsylvania. He was the son of racecar driver Bob Holbert, who also ran a Volkswagen-Porsche dealership in Warrington, PA, near Philadelphia (one of the first Porsche dealerships in the USA). Holbert worked for Roger Penske while studying at Lehigh University, where he graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1968.[2] Holbert began racing Porsches in the northeast division of the SCCA, racing a C-production Porsche 914/6 against, among others, Bob Tullius (Triumph TR6) and Bob Sharp (Datsun 240Z). In 1971, Holbert scored his first race win in a Porsche and would turn professional in 1974. He would score his first of his two IMSA titles in 1976 and 1977 in a Dekon Monza. Being a Porsche supporter, Holbert allowed Porsche technicians to inspect his Monza, which would eventually lead to Porsche entering the series with turbocharged cars such as the 934 that led to a Porsche dominance for the following years. During that time Holbert jumped ship to the Stuttgart marque.

From 1976-1979 Holbert raced 19 career races in NASCAR. In those 19 races, in which he drove primarily for James Hylton, Holbert scored 4 top ten finishes.

He also added an IMSA GTP title in a Porsche powered March 83G when Porsche were unable to make their 956 eligible for competition that year. February 27, 1983, he won the Grand Prix of Miami. Holbert finished fourth in the 1984 Indianapolis 500, and led the Porsche IndyCar effort in 1987-1988. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1983, 1986, and 1987, the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1986 and 1987 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1976 and 1981. Holbert was the head of the Porsche North America's Motorsports Division and ran his own racing team, Holbert Racing. In 1988, Holbert realised that the Porsche 962 that had brought him success in his earlier years was becoming outmoded by the newer generation of racers from the likes of the Jaguar XJR-9 and the Electramotive's Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo. His plan was to build an open top Porsche-engined racer for customer teams. Porsche eventually built such a car nearly a decade later, although the WSC-95 would never be built for customer teams as Holbert and Porsche intended.

Death and afterwardsEdit

On September 30, 1988, Holbert was at the IMSA Columbus Ford Dealers 500. That evening, Holbert was fatally injured when his privately owned propeller driven Piper PA-60 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff near Columbus, Ohio, when a clamshell door was not closed. At the end of the season, the team was disbanded and IMSA would retire his race number 14.

Former Holbert Racing chief mechanic Kevin Doran later became a noted team owner. Son, Todd Holbert was also a mechanic, and is currently with Toyota developing their NASCAR Tundra and Camry vehicles.

AwardsEdit

Holbert was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993.[1]
He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993.[3]

GalleryEdit

Racing recordEdit

SCCA National Championship RunoffsEdit

Year Track Car Engine Class Finish Start Status
1971 Road Atlanta Porsche 914/6 Porsche C Production 16 6 Retired
1972 Road Atlanta Porsche 914/6 Porsche C Production 4 4 Running

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans resultsEdit

Year Class Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1977 S
+2.0
G Inaltera LM77
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8
  Inaltera   Jean-Pierre Beltoise 275 13th 5th
1980 GTP D Porsche 924 Carrera GT
Porsche 2.0L Turbo I4
  Porsche System   Derek Bell 305 13th 6th
1982 C D Porsche 956
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
  Rothmans Porsche System   Hurley Haywood
  Jürgen Barth
340 3rd 3rd
1983 C D Porsche 956
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
  Rothmans Porsche   Vern Schuppan
  Hurley Haywood
370 1st 1st
1985 C1 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
  Rothmans Porsche   Vern Schuppan
  John Watson
299 DNF DNF
1986 C1 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
  Rothmans Porsche   Derek Bell
  Hans-Joachim Stuck
368 1st 1st
1987 C1 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 3.0L Turbo Flat-6
  Rothmans Porsche AG   Hans-Joachim Stuck
  Derek Bell
355 1st 1st

American open–wheel racing resultsEdit

(key)

CARTEdit

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Rank Points
1984 Alex Morales Motorsports LBH
Ret
PHX1
Ret
INDY
4
MIL
Ret
POR
Ret
MEA
5
CLE
7
MIS1
Ret
ROA
Ret
POC
Ret
MDO
Ret
SAN MIS2
13
PHX2
Ret
LS
Ret
LVG
DNS
18th 28
1987 Porsche Motorsports LBH PHX INDY MIL POR MEA CLE TOR MIS POC ROA MDO NAZ LS MIA
DNQ
NC -

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Al Holbert - 1946-1988". International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Distinguished Alumni - Al Holbert". Lehigh University. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  3. ^ Al Holbert at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

External linksEdit