Here is John’s story of how he came to love Porsches, told in his own words:
It all started right after high school when I was working as an automotive apprentice in a gas station in New Jersey. My job was to tune cars and pump gas. A regular customer of mine was a man who owned a 1958 Corvette with a fuelly motor. The car was black with red scallops and it was my dream car.
One afternoon the same customer drove into the station with a 1969 Porsche 911 S. He opened the front hood and handed me 2 shop manuals and told me to start reading because he had sold the Corvette and I would now be working on this car. I wanted to kill him for trading in the Corvette, but he assured me I would like this car even better. This is how my career and love-affair with Porsches began.
About a year later I left my job to go to work for a Porsche dealership and receive factory certified training. I became the engine and transmission specialist. In 1974 Porsche introduced the IROC (International Race of Champions) series using Penske-prepared Porsche RSRs with 3 L engines. Each dealership was given a car to maintain, and as the engine man, it was turned over to me. I quickly found out that my passion was racing and preparing fast Porsches.
Our dealership’s car was driven by Mark Donahue and when the series ended, the car was sold to a local doctor, who hired me to continue to maintain the car. One weekend I had transported the car to Summit Point, WV so the doctor could attend a driver’s school. He was called back to the hospital to perform emergency heart surgery. He told me to take his place in the school and I have never been the same. My racing career had begun.
I left the dealership to go out on my own and started Black Forest Racing in Delray Beach, Florida. One of my first customers was Jimmy Trindade. I built him a 1975 RSR clone, in which he won 4 consecutive GT2 championships.
My first race car was a European 914-6 Porsche Hill Climb car. It had won several championships at the Luxembourg Hill Climb in Belgium before it came to the USA. Vintage racing had just begun here and the car was just what I wanted because I had always dreamed of racing a 914-6. I thought they were better balanced for racing than 911s.
In my early racing days my friend and rival was Bob Snodgrass with Brumos Porsche-Audi. He was my best friend and racing buddy until I beat him in 1989 in the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. He was driving former Peter Gregg’s 914-6 GT that had won the first IMSA GT Championship. After that race we became “bitter rivals” because Bob felt I had dishonored Peter Gregg’s memory by beating his car.
At Sebring the following year Bob Snodgrass hired Hurley Haywood as the lead driver of the car, to be sure the car would not lose again. (At that time Hurley was the sports car endurance world champion and I figured that was a fair match-up, NOT) I did not beat Hurley that weekend, but I did beat Skip Barber, who was driving his 427 Ford Cobra, in which he had won a world championship. People were upset about that as well, because he blew up his motor in the last lap, in our battle for the lead.
I was driving the 914-6 in South Florida SCCA vintage races, as well as the HSR series and the CARE series. In SCCA in 1990 the car was known by all as “the green and orange car, NUMBER 57.” That year I set the vintage track records at Moroso, Road Atlanta, and Roebling Road. When the season ended, I received the SCCA Driver of the Year award. Receiving that award was one of the proudest moments of my life.
In 1995, I took a break from racing to focus on building my business and satisfied my love for the racing world by preparing the race cars of my customers. In 2000, I received a call from Chip Vance, a racer in Texas. They were planning a 2.5 L GT championship race. My 914-6 was a 2.5 L car and he wanted to see which Porsche race shop built the fastest 2.5 L car. Brumos Porsche –Audi brought Peter Gregg’s car, along with a second 914-6, which was driven by Paul Newman, plus a third 914-6 driven by Joe Cogbill. Chip brought his 914-6 from Texas, hoping to claim that he had the fastest 2.5 L car. The 901 shop from Florida brought three 911s and Dave White Racing brought three cars. (These are just a few of the shops.) Everyone wanted to win the title. Sixty 2.5 L cars started the race. I qualified 12th on the first day and moved to 7th place for the start of the race. Three laps from the finish I took the lead and an held it, winning the race. Second place was Hurley Haywood. (I finally beat him!)
Since that time our shop has been building championship race cars, helping customers to fulfill their racing dreams. We just completed a 914-6 rally car that is an exact replica of the car that won the 1970 Monte Carlo Rally in Europe. This car is owned by Italian rally car driver, Carlo Falcone, and was built as a clone with the authorization of the Porsche factory, where the original is on display. It also meets FIA racing specifications in Europe that are an exact match for the original car. Our replica is now in Europe and was driven by the original driver, Bourn Waldegard, in this year’s vintage Monte Carlo Rally.
We love to go to the track to support our customers. We plan to return to racing in 2012, so look for stories and pictures in the near future. In the meantime a favorite pastime is swapping stories with fellow Porsche enthusiasts, so stop by for a visit.