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Peter Gregg (racing driver)

Peter Holden Gregg (May 4, 1940 – December 15, 1980) was a racecar driver during the golden age of the Trans-Am Series and a four-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona. He was also the owner of Brumos, a Jacksonville, Florida car dealership and racing team.

BackgroundEdit

Gregg was born in New York City, the son of a mechanical engineer and manufacturer of marine incinerators.[1][2]

He graduated from the Deerfield Academy, a private prep school,[2] in 1957 and moved on to Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English in 1961.[3] He had a brief career in filmmaking while also competing as a squash player and then eventually settling on auto racing.[2] After graduating from Harvard,[4] he moved to Europe and attended the Centro-Sud Driving School.[3] He then joined the U.S. Navy and became an air intelligence officer. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and served there until discharged in 1965.[3] He was married to Jennifer Johnson and had two sons, Jason and Simon.

Racing careerEdit

 
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR of Peter Gregg

While at school, Gregg began his motorsport career in gymkhanas and ice races after an initial appearance in a hill climb in 1958 in Laconia, New Hampshire.[2]

In 1963 he drove an unmodified production Corvette in Osceola County, Florida and won the SCCA sanctioned race. He became a serious Porsche racer in 1964 with a Porsche 904 and then moved into competition with a Porsche 906.[2] In 1965 he purchased Brumos Porsche, a local dealership, after the death of the owner, Hubert Brundage.[3] He was the SCCA's Southeastern Division champion in 1967 in two classes and scored victories in Daytona and Sebring.[2] In 1968 he acquired a Mercedes-Benz dealership and entered competition in the SCCA's Under-2-Litre section of the Trans-Am Series. He won six Trans-Am races in 1969 and also took the SCCA's B Sedan National Championship. In 1970, he opened a third dealership, SportAuto, selling Fiats and MGs.[3]

In 1971, he was part of the major Trans-Am Series, driving Bud Moore Ford Mustangs, alongside teammate George Follmer.[3] He won the Trans-Am Series in 1973 and 1974 in a Brumos Porsche. By this time, he was involved with IMSA and won the IMSA GTO overall championship in 1971 and 1973, earning him the nickname "Peter Perfect", possibly a reference to a character in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon called the "Wacky Races" and his clean-cut naval officer image. In 1973 he won the 24 Hours of Daytona in a Porsche Carrera co-driven by Hurley Haywood. He then announced his retirement to lead a life as a director of the Jacksonville National Bank,[3] a club tennis player and a speedboat racer out of the Ponte Vedra Yacht Club.[2]

Gregg retracted his retirement and won the 24 Hours of Daytona three more times, in 1975, 1976, and 1978.[3] His 1976 Daytona victory in the #59 BMW E9 Coupe Sport Leicht (CSL) "Batmobile" (the first product of what would become the BMW M Motorsport subsidiary) with co-driver Brian Redman is cited as BMW's first major victory on American soil.[5]

Gregg won IMSA GTO overall championships in 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979, giving him six career titles in the class. In June 1980, he was due to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a 924 Carrera GTS for the Porsche factory team along with fellow American Al Holbert, but was injured near Paris; en route to a practice session for the race,[3] he attempted to overtake an ox cart, but a car pulled out in front of him and, in attempting to avoiding a collision,[6] his car careered into a ditch.[4] Artist Frank Stella was his passenger.[7] When doctors refused to allow Gregg to race his place was taken by Derek Bell.[4]

Gregg was given clearance to compete at the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona the following month. His partner, Haywood, who was scheduled to drive for most of the race, soon fell ill while leading, leaving Gregg to fill in, but their Porsche fell back, eventually finishing third. Suffering from double vision, he was soon barred from racing by IMSA.[4]

Gregg’s success with BMW was rewarded with an invitation to order a BMW M1 Procar Championship supercar from the factory. The Gregg car Frank Stella painted is cited as the only BMW Art Car not owned by the factory (although "unofficial", Stella was an official art car artist). Gregg’s widow sold the car in 1990; it was donated to the Guggenheim Museum in 1999 and then sold at the Bonhams 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction for $854,000 to art collector, car collector, and BMW dealer Jonathan Sobel.[8][9]

DeathEdit

Gregg was discovered dead after committing suicide in 1980. At the time of his death he had a reputation as one of America's greatest and most successful road racers, with 152 wins out of 340 races he started.

Gregg's endurance racing partner, Hurley Haywood, assisted Deborah Gregg (herself a racer) as she took the position of Owner/CEO at Brumos Motorcars. She became a successful driver in the Trans Am and endurance series driving for Brumos in the '80s.[10] She remarried and sold the dealerships in the mid-'90s.

In 1991, Brumos Porsche entered a two-car Porsche team in the newly created IMSA SuperCar series and won three straight manufacturer’s championships for Porsche with a pair of traditional white, red, and blue 911 Turbos. Peter's son Simon later competed as a driver in Trans-Am, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series.[11] Simon Gregg campaigns a Chevrolet Corvette under the Derhaag Motorsports banner in the SCCA's GT-1-class. He won the SCCA Southeast Conference Major's Tour GT-1 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in January 2015, and set a new track record for the GT-1 class.[12]

AwardsEdit

Motorsports resultsEdit

SCCA National Championship RunoffsEdit

Year Track Car Engine Class Finish Start Status
1967 Daytona Porsche 911 E Sports Racer 2 3 Running
Porsche 911 B Sedan 12 3 Retired
1969 Daytona Porsche 911 B Sedan 1 1 Running
1970 Road Atlanta Porsche 914/6 C Production 8 15 Running

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Peter Gregg - 1940-1980". Motorsportshalloffame.com. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "International Motorsports Hall of Fame". Motorsportshalloffame.com. Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "IMSAblog: Peter Gregg : a racing legend". Alex62.typepad.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  4. ^ a b c d https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19801217&id=NvALAAAAIBAJ&sjid=P1oDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6268,796550
  5. ^ "1975-1976 BMW 3.5 CSL IMSA". Supercars.net. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
  6. ^ "Peter Gregg Takes His Life". St. Petersburg Evening Independent. 16 December 1980.
  7. ^ "Bernard Jacobson Gallery". Jacobsongallery.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  8. ^ "Tragic Racer's BMW M1 Art Car Heads to Pebble Beach Auction". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
  9. ^ "Frank Stella's BMW M1 art car finds a new home in the Hamptons". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
  10. ^ Roberts, Rich (1987-04-04). "She Is Chasing After Dreams, Leaving the Nightmare Behind Widow of Peter Gregg Has Taken the Wheel". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  11. ^ "Simon Gregg Signs With American Viperacing for Sebring and Daytona; www.TheRaceSite.com". Theraceforum.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  12. ^ "Track records fall at Homestead Majors". www.scca.com. Sports Car Club of America. Archived from the original on 20 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  13. ^ Peter Gregg at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

External linksEdit