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Le Mans-Winning Porsche K3 Headlines Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 935 Class

Porsche 935

The upcoming 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will witness a fleet of a dozen legendary 935 racers from Porsche in attendance. The Porsche 935 was dominant from 1976 up until 1984, when they won their final victory in a bleu riband enduro, an upset win at the 1984 12 Hours of Sebring.

The numerous race victories of the Porsche 935 include an impressive 12 wins at the 12 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. The 935 entered racing folklore in 1979 when it claimed victory in the most important endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Le Mans-winning Whittington/Ludwig #41 will be the main feature at the 935 class at Amelia’s on May 23.

Porsche entered the 1970s claiming their first overall victory at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the time, a feature film about the race also came out. Steve McQueen, who was then seduced by endurance racing, spearheaded the movie that was simply titled Le Mans. McQueen himself competed in endurance races and finished second – first in class – in the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring using his own Porsche 908.

1979 Porsche 935 K3
1979 Porsche 935 K3. Courtesy of Canepa Motorsports.

Porsche ended the 70s in the same way they started, with another Le Man’s victory, their fifth win. Again, Hollywood ties with Stuttgart were strong with Paul Newman this time.

Like McQueen, Newman was also seduced by endurance racing while he was working on Winning the year before. Driving his Group 44 TR6, Newman was able to claim victory at the SCCA’s 1976 D Production national championship and was driving a Datsun 280ZX when he won the national C Production title. In 1979, Newman made his Le Man’s debut behind the wheel in a powerful IMSA-spec Porsche 935.

He came close to the win, achieving an overall second place and IMSA category class victory, coming just after the #41 Kremer Porsche K4 935 driven by Klaus Ludwig and the Florida-based Whittington brothers.

Porsche k3
Courtesy of Canepa Motorsports.

On May 23, 2021, the 1979 Le Mans-winning Kremer K3 Porsche will be making its first visit to The Amelia. It leads the fleet of successful, significant, and decorated Porsche 935s to celebrate the model’s 45th anniversary.

The 935 is the racing variant of the 911, descending from the Porsche Turbo Carrera. It is considered to be something of a road racing Funny Car that has driven through a wide variety of rule loopholes in several different languages during its long and productive life.

“The 935 is a glorious mutant, and it may well be the ultimate Porsche because it has the silhouette of a 911 and the speed of a 917.”

Founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Bill Warner.

The 935 was not only victorious at Le Mans, but it also dominated American’s marquee endurance races like the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 12 Hours of Daytona, where it won 12 times from 1978 to 1984.

During its first year, the 935 claimed four of the seven FIA’s World Championship of Makes rounds claiming the title. The same year saw the Porsche turbo power taking home first place points in six of seven rounds of the World Championship for Sports Cars plus winning the European Grand Touring Championship.

The 935 made further history, this time being the first privately entered car to obtain a Le Man’s win since the Ferrari 275LM by North American Racing Team won in 1965.

Brumos Porsche
1979 Porsche 935. Courtesy of Bill Warner.

Other Porsche 935 heavyweights who will share the Amelia’s field will be Peter Gregg’s 1979 IMSA Winston GT-winning #59. It entered the record books with eight straight pole positions that resulted in eight race wins and taking victory in the 1979 IMSA Winston GT title, his 6th IMSA crown. The original and unrestored 1979 winner will be shown at Amelia in the same state as it was back in 1979, complete with Gregg’s signature Black Watch tartan seat and custom machined aluminum billet shift knob. The car is currently in the custody of the Brumos Collection of Jacksonville, FL.

One of the most entertaining and complex Porsche 935 gracing Amelia with its presence is the Andial 935L that won the 1983 24 Hours of Daytona title. Driven by Bob Wolleck, Preston Henn, Claude Ballot-Lena, and AJ Foyt, who was a last-minute substitution.

“Super Tex” joined the team mid-race after his Nimrod GTP prototype retired from the race. With the bad weather looming, car owner Henn was not exactly keen on racing his 935 on the high banks of Daytona. It started a tirade from Wolleck, who had put in a great deal of work on the Swap Shop-sponsored Andial-built 935 to give it a solid lead. It was Foyt’s first time to drive the 935, and fearing the worst, the Frenchman voiced his thoughts in a four-letter invective that was transmitted live on the TBS TV network.

However, the 1967 Le Mans and 1972 Daytona 500 and four-time Indy 500 winner didn’t take too long before mastering both the Daytona rain and the 935L. The 935 claimed a six-lap victory ahead of the new GTP Prototypes adding to the legend of the 935.

935 at Daytona
Field/Ongais/Haywood driven 935 at Daytona. Courtesy of Bill Warner.

The most successful 935 is the K3 version winning Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring, and the IMSA Championship. Charles Nearburg’s K3/80 won at Portland and Road Atlanta winning the 1980 title for 935 ace – and 1980 Sebring winner – John Fitzpatrick.

“We want to thank a long-time friend of The Amelia, Bruce Meyer of Beverly Hills, California, for sharing the 1979 Porsche 935 K3 with us. Without the graciousness of our entrants, The Amelia simply wouldn’t exist.”

[Source: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance]