SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY
Unable to rid his mind of the image of Brumos Racing’s Daytona-winning 1973 Carrera RSR 2.8, Chronis Tsiligkeridis worked with Prepfab Motorsport Engineering to create a competition-ready replica…
A 1973 911 T given the Brumos treatment.
Five years ago, on 31st March 2016, a fiftysix-year part of the Porsche motorsport story came to a close. The event wasn’t widely reported in mainstream automotive media, but to fans of racing 911s, especially Porsche enthusiasts living Stateside, this particular date in the timeline of our favourite automotive brand is significant — it marked the end of Brumos Porsche, the dealer famous for its legendary on-track exploits in a wide variety of Stuttgart-crested sports cars, most of them wearing the famous white, blue and red Brumos Racing battle dress.
Brumos was founded by Herbert Brundage, a gentleman racer who established the only Volkswagen dealer in a three-state radius when he opened for business in Jacksonville, Florida, after relocating from Miami in the late 1950s. Recognising appetite for a low-cost motorsport programme, he commissioned well-known race car designer, Enrico Nardi (a name familiar to anyone who has lusted after a wood-rimmed steering wheel), to develop a single-seat, mid-engined Formula Junior car built around a brand new Beetle 1200 engine, transmission, brakes, wheels and suspension. The resulting racer wasn’t particularly competitive, but it did highlight the need for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) to better support motorsport participants working with a modest budget — not everyone could afford to buy and punish a 356 Speedster or 550 Spyder! Consequently, the inexpensive, fibreglass-bodied, Beetlebased Brumos (incidentally, that’s the Telex abbreviation for Brundage Motors) served as the catalyst for Formula Vee, with more than 1,500 cars in action across the
USA by the mid-1960s. Porsche was so impressed, the company’s then Director of Motorsport, Huschke von Hanstein, ordered two complete Formula Vee cars for works driver, Edgar Barth, to get to grips with, the idea being to determine whether there was potential for success if Porsche imported the format to Germany. Famous names to have contested Formula Vee in period include actor, Steve Mcqueen, and former Porsche works driver, Dan Gurney, he man to score Porsche’s only win in Formula One as a constructor. Pleasingly, Formula Vee remains one of the most popular SCCA classes to this day, with the Brundage Cup contested every five years in honour of the man who gave so much to so many.
While Brumos was making a name for itself on the VW scene, New York-based European sports car importer, Max Hoffman (the Austrian responsible for conceptualising the 356 Speedster, as well as the Mercedes-benz W198 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ and V8-powered BMW 507 roadster), was enjoying great success as Porsche’s sole importer to the USA. Quickly, however, bosses in Zuffenhausen sensed North America was likely to become the brand’s biggest sales territory and Hoffman’s monopoly came to an end — it was while Brundage was developing the cars and format for Formula Vee that his VW dealership became a Porsche importer, handling distribution of Stuttgart’s finest across seven south-eastern states. A short while later, following Brundage’s death in 1965, Brumos Porsche was sold to celebrated racer, Peter Gregg, famed for his time behind the wheel of the 904 Carrera GTS and 906 Carrera 6.
With acquisition of Brundage’s dealership, his unbridled access to high-powered air-cooled sports machinery
from Stuttgart led to the Brumos Racing enterprise as we know it: one of the world’s most successful endurance and sports car racing teams and serving as home to some of the most talented drivers ever to get behind the wheel of a Porsche.
The long and fruitful history of Brumos Racing, including its many championship wins and mind-blowing race cars, is beyond the scope of this article, suffice to say, among its numerous notable achievements, the team won the 24 Hours of Daytona no fewer than four times. The first of these victories, achieved with Gregg partnering Hurley Haywood (the Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans legend who would take up a leading role at Brumos many years later), was achieved in 1973, the pair piloting the no.59 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 to the top of the podium in the face of stiff competition, not least from the Penske Racing RSR being campaigned by seasoned Porsche racers, Mark Donohue and George Follmer. Porsche had shipped both RSRS to the USA, one landing at Brumos, the other at Penske. Renowned for being thorough, Gregg stripped the Brumos RSR and found its flywheel to be loose. Alarmed at the potential for disaster at the track, he contacted Roger Penske to inform him of his findings, only for Penske to assume Gregg was playing mind games in advance of their cars going head-to-head. Warning unheeded, the Penske car retired from the race with a loose flywheel and the Brumos car won, completing 670 laps of Daytona International Speedway, a significant distance over the 648 laps of second-place finisher, North American Racing Team, and its roaring 4.4-litre V12-powered Ferrari 365 GTB/4.
This watershed moment in Porsche’s motorsport story saw the distinctively styled RSR become one of the most instantly recognisable 911s ever assembled. In 2019, three years after Brumos closed its doors and the company’s bricks and mortar became home to Porsche Centre Jacksonville, Porsche raced a pair of 991-generation 911 RSRS decorated in an adaptation of Brumos livery — close inspection of the blue and red stripes shows them to be made up of hundreds of ‘fifty-nines’ in the same typeface as the numbers on Gregg and Haywood’s 1973 Daytona-winning car — to commemorate five decades of the IMSA series. And, of course, over the past forty-eight years, there have been many privately owned 911s replicating the look of the iconic Brumos bruiser. The latest, an exquisitely finished restomod based on a 1973-and-half 911 T 2.4, is pictured here.
Owned by serial Porsche modifier, Chronis Tsiligkeridis, the car’s transformation into a faithful Brumos RSR replica began back in 2012. “I started the search for an air-cooled 911 to use as the base for the project after many years spent dreaming about building such a car. I wanted to create a mirror image of Gregg and Haywood’s 1973 Brumos RSR, with the finished article being assembled to the highest FIA standards, enabling me to drive and enjoy the car at historic racing events.” To encourage authenticity, he set his sights on
HE DESCENDED UPON NEVADA-BASED PORSCHE ENGINE AND TUNING SPECIALIST, EBS RACING
a 1973 left-hand drive, non-sunroof 911 coupe. “The Porsche I bought was originally registered in the United States, but imported to the UK in 2011. It left the factory in a lick of OEM Aubergine, but at some point in its history, a previous owner painted the car white. It was a pretty poor job, but the rare beige Recaro interior was in great condition.”
His initial thoughts were to entrust the build to recognised Porsche race car preparation specialist, Richard Lepley of Prepfab Motorsport Engineering, but by the time the project got underway, Richard had relocated to France. After much head-scratching, a company in Worcester — close to where Chronis lives — was given the job instead. “The firm’s location meant it would be easier for me to drop in and check on progress than if I’d offloaded the car with Richard in Lincolnshire as intended,” Chronis reasons. “We discussed my preferred specification, the company’s technicians stripped the car to a bare shell and they started dealing with the usual rust spots an old 911 likes to present to restorers.” So far, so good. Chronis was happy with how things were panning out and set sail for the USA, where he descended upon Nevada-based Porsche engine and tuning specialist, EBS Racing, and handed over fifteen thousand pounds in exchange for a mountain of competition parts, including uprated pistons, matching connecting rods, ARP block fasteners, performance gaskets and anything else required to turn his entry-level 911 into a rapid track monster.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Chronis was concerned work was progressing at a frustratingly slow pace. “I discovered the restoration business was going bust and progress had long stalled on projects taking up space in the company’s workshop,”
he remembers. “Worse still, many of the parts I supplied, including everything bought from EBS Racing, were missing. Thankfully, the car’s shell was salvageable, as was the rare Recaro cabin furniture, but I was back to square one, out of pocket and out of parts. It really was a case of having to start over, but with an incomplete car.” Understandably annoyed, he didn’t know what the future held for his impotent 911, but he needn’t have worried — Lady Luck shone bright when Richard and his family decided to return to the UK from their adventures in France and, after much badgering from Chronis, the Prepfab founder agreed to take control of the project. Picking up where the garage in Worcester left off, the neglected 911 moved to his premises in Gainsborough.
The shell was promptly reinforced with double-skin in all the rights areas, while 100mm RSR turrets were installed at the rear. Rsrspecification steel wheel arches and wings were fitted, as was a Safety Devices roll cage constructed to FIA standards. It didn’t take long for Richard to turn the once underpowered Porsche into a competition car, using the best materials at his disposal to ensure the restored and modified body could cope with what would be demanded of it by time spent on harsh gravel rally stages. Pure white paint covered the finished metalwork. “It was then time for the refit,” Chronis smiles. “Trying to source all the parts proved to be a huge challenge. Tonnes of new items, such as incidental trim, all seals, screws, lights, grilles and ball joints had to be purchased, which wasn’t massively difficult, but in keeping with the theme of the build, I spent time seeking RSR brakes and suspension, necessitating Prepfab to manufacture RSR shortened rear control arms. Additionally, because of the lack of ventilation in the car, I invested in an electrically heated front windscreen. I also bought a competitionspec dashboard.” An FIA fuel cell, all new fuel lines, competition oil transfer pipework and a lightweight wiring loom were manufactured on demand.
DUCK AND COVER
The wheels, though they look every (fifteen) inch authentic RSR staggered five-leaves, are, in fact, Fuchsaping, Tuv-approved Braids, boasting eleven inches of width at the back and nine at the front. They’re wrapped in Pirelli P7 black circles and look fantastic set against the ducktailed body, resplendent in that no.59 Brumos livery. TT Exhausts in Redditch provided the car with the soundtrack to match its eye-popping looks, giving Chronis two different exhaust solutions, the first a set of Megaphones for track days free of noise restrictions, the second taking the form of 102-decibel pipework to comply with volume limits typical of historic racing events. There’s a competition-ratio 915 gearbox prepared by Elite Racing Transmissions (under Richard’s instruction), too, all of which leads us to the heart of the beast, a three-litre MFI twin-plug flat-six prepared by Richard and the Prepfab team.
Hang on — why go to all this trouble observing the Brumos car’s specification and not opt to replace the restomod’s original 140bhp 2.4-litre lump with a 2.8-litre unit, as per the very RSR Chronis is in awe of? “The answer is simple,” he says, after revealing he spent a further ten thousand pounds on engine equipment at EBS Racing to replace much of what was nowhere to be found in Worcester. “When the 1974 911
THE NEW ENGINE POWERING THE REANIMATED PORSCHE WAS BUILT TO DELIVER AS MUCH AS 330BHP
Carrera RSR 3.0 was released into the wild, many of the 1973 cars switched to the three-litre alloy engine, which was more powerful and more reliable than its predecessor, the magnesium-cased 2.8-litre boxer. A three-litre unit became the ‘new norm’ and was totally accepted by the FIA, which continues its endorsement of this specification to the present day.” During many conversations with the guys at Prepfab, Chronis was told by Richard the new engine powering the reanimated Porsche was built to deliver as much as 330bhp, but has been detuned to around 300bhp to ensure an unstressed service life and bombproof reliability. “He told me the headline power figure and then asked if I was prepared to strip and reassemble the engine every time it reached a specified number of race hours. It didn’t take long to convince me it would be best to reduce engine output in the interests of avoiding a costly rebuild every season!” There was, however, a carrot dangled in front of Chronis. “Richard reasoned that when my racing skills are at a level where the additional 30bhp will be of significant use, we can release the extra power at little cost. His rationale made perfect sense and I was happy to follow his advice.”
This Brumos-inspired restomod was finally finished in December 2020 and was collected by Chronis in January of this year. The car’s FIA paperwork arrived thereafter. “A few miles are required to run-in the engine, before a return to Prepfab for a proper shakedown and final adjustment, including calibration of the dash dials, which are Rsr-correct clocks, comprising a 10,000rpm rev counter and a 300km/h speedo prepared by Reap Automotive Design.” Sitting ahead of an OMP threespoke steering wheel, the dials inhabit a cabin shared by a Lifeline fire safety system, custom switchgear, a Monit lap timer, ATL fuel gauge and gorgeous Motordrive Alcantara-trimmed sport seats with stitched Carrera RSR
logos and Porsche crests. “The interior was prepared by Motordrive, the British manufacturer of world-class FIA competition seats for professional motorsport,” Chronis tells us. “I asked the company to cover the dashboard in Alcantara, too.”
Obviously, Richard’s help and expertise were crucial in ensuring Chronis’ vision to turn an air-cooled 911 road car into an aggressive motorsport machine bore fruit. “The build has exceeded my expectations,” he smiles. “Prepfab’s work on this project has been second to none. I’ll admit it was a costly and, sometimes, challenging near ten-year process from purchasing the car to seeing it in the pages of Classic Porsche, but I’m glad I persevered with the project. It’s certainly ticked many boxes on my Porsche ownership bucket list.” There’s only one problem, although we’ll be the first to say it’s a nice conundrum to be struggling with. “This car is arguably too nice to be belted around a rally stage,” Chronis cries. “Knowing how much time, money and effort has been invested in the build, I’m unsure if I have the guts to race it as hard as I intended. Time will tell, but the thought of denting this thing gives me sleepless nights!” No such concerns for Gregg in 1973, who went on to win the 24 Hours of Daytona three more times: in 1975, 1976 and 1978, though the middle win was in a BMW E9 Coupe Sport Leicht (CSL) ‘Batmobile’, the first product of what would become the Munich manufacturer’s M division. The win was achieved with Porsche works driver, Brian Redman, serving as co-pilot and is recognised as BMW’S first major motorsport victory in the USA. The number worn by this race-winning Bimmer? No.59, of course!
Additionally, Gregg won IMSA GTO titles in 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979. He was scheduled to compete alongside Al Holbert for the Porsche works team in the 924 Carrera GTP at the 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans, but a pre-practice road accident caused him to pull out. Porsche recruited Derek Bell to fill his place and, save for a third-place finish with Haywood at the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona the following month, Gregg’s competition career was over — it was revealed he was suffering double vision and IMSA immediately banned him from further track action. The decision had a profound impact on the Brumos boss, who committed suicide six months later.
Assisted by Haywood, Gregg’s widow, Deborah, assumed control of the Brumos dealership and racing businesses, going on to become a successful endurance racing driver in her own right. She remarried in the
1990s and sold the dealerships soon after. Gregg was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 and, with the Brumos brand under new management, a new chapter in the firm’s story began. None, however, have achieved the same level of international recognition as those golden years in the early 1970s, and, as the race-ready restomod on these pages highlights, no Brumos Porsche has left such an indelible mark on the minds of motorsport enthusiasts as the team’s 1973 Daytona-dominating Carrera RSR 2.8.