Porsche 914-6 IMSA Challenge
Story by Harry Kennison
Back in the early 70's a new racing series was created in the U. S. for sports cars that up until then had limited opportunity to run in the World Endurance Championship, which only made a few stops in the United States at Daytona, Sebring, and Watkins Glen. Created by John Bishop, it was called IMSA (International Motor Sports Association). From the beginning, the IMSA GT series provided a battleground for European and Japanese manufacturers to pit their light-weight high-performance racers against the American muscle of Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs.
In fact, the very first IMSA GT race was held back in 1971 right here in Virginia at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). And the very first car to make it to victory lane was none other than a Porsche 914-6 driven by a couple of relative unknowns at the time, Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. An interesting fact, according to Nick England, whose articles appear on the IMSA Blog website http://alex62.typepad.com/imsablog, was that Hurley Haywood was actually in the U. S. Army at the time and got a pass to participate in that first IMSA race! Although there was a big-block 7 liter Corvette on the pole, it needed twice as many stops for fuel as the slick little 914-6. With just a few laps to go the Corvette was closing on the Porsche but went off the road, giving the win to Gregg and Haywood. Hurley retired from racing following this year's Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona after nearly 40 years as one of the premier road racers in the world.
The 914-6 would continue to be a prominent factor in the IMSA GT series, winning the GTU championship for sports cars under 2 liters in 1977 in the capable hands of Walt Mass, a long-time Porsche pilot.