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The 1976 12 Hours of Sebring Winner
The 911 RSR
The early 1970s marked Porsche’s grasp of the prototype era, yet they seized the opportunity to dominate GT competition with the ever-successful 911. Just 10 years after the 911’s debut, the public was offered a road car with racing prowess: the 2.7 RS. It featured flared rear fenders, the first application of a tail on a 911, and boasted the greatest-displacement flat six yet offered: a 2.7-liter producing 210 hp.
Looking to compete in Group 4, Special Grand Touring Cars, Porsche built an all-out racing model based on the 2.7 RS. The cars were highly modified and engine displacement was increased to a greater, 2.8-liter capacity. The engines’ internal components were entirely different, the brakes upgraded, and the suspension modified. The outside appearance was intentionally left similar to the production Carrera RS, but many panels differed in production material or overall design.
The RSR’s racing debut came at the 1973 24 Hours of Daytona, where Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood won an outright victory. Success also came to the RSR at both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Targa Florio of that same year. Furthermore, in the European GT Championship, the RSR 2.8 was the car to beat, winning six of nine rounds and the championship.
For 1974, the Porsche factory team focused on the development and campaigning of the turbocharged 911. The company also furthered the RSR platform for private teams and fitted the 3.0-liter motors developed during the 1973 season. The 3.0-liter RSR boasted 330 bhp and weighed in at just 950 kg. The car featured 917-type brakes, a five-speed gearbox with splash lubrication, and an oil pump and cooler.
The body was highly modified: Its “G-type” bumper shape and wider front fenders, which ended abruptly before the doors, allowed for heat to escape from the brakes. The rear fenders were also widened to accommodate the increased wheel size and were vented both front and rear. A larger tail was allowed for the 1974 cars and added significant downforce.
The RSR, of which just 51 were produced, was an epic competition car and won nearly every race it entered. In 1974 alone, the RSR conquered the FIA GT class with outright wins at Monza, Spa, Nürburgring, and Kyalami. It also captured the European Hillclimb Championship, the national championships in Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, and France, and the IMSA Camel GT Championship.
RSR 9056 was first delivered to Peter Gregg’s Brumos Porsche in Jacksonville, Florida, before being sold on March 25, 1974, to George Dickinson. Dickinson was an avid racer in the late 1960s and 1970s and purchased the new RSR with the intent to send it to Al Holbert Racing. Holbert had just turned professional and was well on his way to a successful career, often at the wheel of a Porsche. In the 1974 Trans Am Series, 9056 was first entered at Lime Rock, where Holbert handily won the race.
In 1975, the RSR was finished in white with blue stripes. The car’s first appearance that year was at the 24 Hours of Daytona, where it was entered by Bill Webbe in partnership with Harry Theodoracopoulos. A fast and reliable car, 9056 was driven to a 5th place overall finish. The following month, Dickinson entered the car at the 12 Hours of Sebring, where Webbe and Theodoracopoulos finished 5th overall.
For the remainder of the year’s racing, Dickinson entrusted the car to Hurley Haywood, another notable American Porsche driver. Around this time, Brumos serviced the car and the original motor was replaced. Given the quick succession of endurance events for 9056, this was not unexpected, nor unusual for an RSR. By April, the car was prepared and driven by Haywood to 3rd place in the first heat, and 2nd place in the second heat at Road Atlanta. For the Riverside 6 Hours, Peter Gregg joined Haywood in sharing 9056, finishing 3rd overall. The result was repeated by Haywood at Mid-Ohio, followed by a win at Mosport in June. The Paul Revere 6 Hours at Daytona was next, and Haywood brought the RSR to a 2nd overall finish.
Next, Haywood finished 2nd in the first heat at Mid-America, but failed to complete the second. Finishing the summer, Haywood achieved 3rd overall at the Talladega 6 Hours, and 5th overall at the Daytona Finale. In that year’s 1975 IMSA Camel GT Championship, Haywood and 9056 earned a well-deserved 2nd place.
The year 1976 held the most glory for 9056, and after its solid result at both Daytona and Sebring, it was given to Holbert for both races. Holbert and his team prepared the car for the event and gave it a new livery of dark blue with red and yellow graphics.
At the 24 Hours of Daytona, Holbert paired with Claude Ballot-Lena. The drivers battled a field of BMW 3.0 CSLs, numerous other RSRs, Corvettes, a Ferrari Daytona, and a 934. By the end of the 24 hours, 9056 came across the finish line in 2nd to Gregg, Redman, and Fitzpatrick in a CSL. The following month, Holbert partnered with Michael Keyser for the Sebring 12 Hours. Amongst similar contenders, 9056 was driven fantastically to overall victory.
After a successful few years with 9056 and one exceptional victory, Dickenson sold the RSR to Tom Frank of California. Frank had the car refinished in white and campaigned the RSR in 1976 IMSA Camel GT and earned five top-15 finishes in eight races.
In 1977, the car received green graphics and Frank started the season at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Driving with Carl Shafer, the car failed to finish after 178 laps. At the 12 Hours of Sebring, the pair of drivers had better success, and brought 9056 to 7th overall. Frank entered the car in two other races that year: Sears Point, achieving 6th overall, and 1st in Class and 17th place at Laguna Seca.
For 1978, the RSR received 935-style bodywork finished in white and green, emblazoned with Huffaker’s sponsorship. For the fourth consecutive time, 9056 was entered in the 24 Hours of Daytona, with Frank and Bob Bergstrom piloting the car to 15th overall. Following Daytona, the RSR’s fourth appearance at the 12 Hours of Sebring ended with gearbox trouble. Frank campaigned 9056 in five more races that year.
With its successful racing career over, 9056 was sold to Joe Huffaker, of Alex’s Porsche House in 1979. The RSR changed hands again to Bill Freeman of San Diego in 1984. Freeman, realizing the importance of the RSR, had 9056 restored to its victorious 1976 12 Hours of Sebring specifications by Bill Smith, formerly of Andial Engineering. In 1986 the car sold to Bill Strakosch before Nick Soprano purchased it in 1989.
In 2004, the RSR was acquired by the consignor, who recently returned the car to the Al Holbertwinning livery of 1976. Inspection proves the long-term race use of the tub, but provides insight into the preparation of these racing weapons. The dashboard is affixed with toggle switches for nighttime running lamps, the doors retain lamps to illuminate the roundels, and an antenna remains – all believed to be from its Daytona and Sebring heritage. Components in all corners of the car have been drilled for weight reduction, something not done by Porsche. Given that the car has never been fully restored, it is a uniquely preserved example of an earlier motor-sport era.
This RSR will require preparation before any racing use, but the majority of mechanical components appear correct for the car and it has recently been tracked in non-competitive use. As one of a limited number of Carrera RSRs from 1974, particularly given its significant racing history, 9056 remains an important 911. The RSR boasts an extensive list of highly regarded drivers who commanded 9056 through its racing record. The RSR continues to be sought after as a collection piece; and for those that have raced them, the Carrera RSRs are prized.