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The 1984 24 Hours of Daytona Winner
"Although it is not widely known, one of the most successful Porsche powered racecars ever was not a Porsche. It was a March GTP car, an 83G that, in the hands of Al Holbert, not only won the 1983 IMSA Camel GT Championship, it then went on to win the 1984 Daytona 24-Hour race outright, in the hands of its new owners, the South African-based ‘Kreepy Krauly’ cars.”
– John Starkey
March 83G-4, sporting red and white CRC/ Red Roof Inns livery, first competed at the 500K race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 1983, claiming pole position and 1st Place in a tough field that included Bob Tullius in his new Jaguar. After a strong 4th Place at Lime Rock, the series went to Mosport, where the March lost a turbo and finished a disappointing 9th. Holbert, who is thought to have been assisted by the Porsche factory in getting his new car dialed in, went on a three-race winning streak, taking 1st Place at Brainerd, Sears Point, and Portland, all in the month of July. After a 7th at Mosport, this time for the 6-Hour race, a 15th at Road America, and a DNF 36th at Pocono, Holbert and his codriver Jim Trueman won the season-ending Daytona 3-hour finale. This victory, in addition to their earlier success, was enough to crown Holbert as the 1983 Camel GTP Driver’s Champion and March as the Manufacturer’s Champion.
Immediately following his successful 1983 season, Holbert needed to make room in the organization for his new Porsche 962s and sold 83G-4 to the owner of Kreepy Krauly, a manufacturer of swimming pool cleaners in South Africa. In 83G-4, drivers Sarel van der Merwe, Graham Duxbury, and Tony Martin won the first race of the year, which happened to be the biggest prize in American sports car racing – the 24 Hours of Daytona. The rest of the 1984 season was met with a moderate level of success, with van der Merwe racing to six top-10 finishes including a win at Lime Rock Park on May 28th.
The stalwart March continued and then finished its competitive racing career in the hands of new owner Jim Hotchkis and his co-driver Jim Adams for six events in 1985–1986 with the best result being 6th at Riverside.
In 1986 the 83G was sold to Portland-based racer Monte Shelton. Shelton reportedly raced the car at a single event in Portland before selling the March to racer and collector Rasim Tugberk. Tugberk was said to be a significant Al Holbert fan and was delighted to own a car that Holbert had so successfully campaigned. During Tugberk’s approximately 18 years of ownership, the March-Porsche was at first stored and then sent to vintage racing specialists RM Racing in Wixom, Michigan, for a complete overhaul that was completed in approximately 2003. The refurbishment of the warhorse prototype included stripping the car all the way down to its aluminum honeycomb tub. All mechanical systems were rebuilt including the 935-derived single turbocharged 3.0-liter Porsche flat-six engine. Showing Tugberk’s affinity for the 83G’s Holbert race history, the car was painted in the 1983 CRC/Red Roof Inns livery. Tugberk reportedly used the March-Porsche very sparingly, with its only apparent on-track appearance being for parade laps at the Rennsport Reunion at Daytona in 2004
The consignor, an East Coast collector and racing enthusiast, purchased the March in 2005 with the intent of using it occasionally for vintage racing demonstrations and shows. During his ownership, the 83G has made track appearances at Pocono, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Laguna Seca, and at Daytona for the 50th anniversary of the 24-hour race that was held in 2012. The livery was changed back to the appropriate blue and white Kreepy Krauly scheme just prior to the Daytona event to pay homage to the accomplishment of 1984.
In recent years, 83G-4 is reported to have been meticulously cared for by specialists and is accompanied by an extra set of wheels and various other parts, in addition to a selection of magazine articles. Whether its next owner wishes to race or show, this incredibly accomplished GTP racer would make a stunning addition to any collection and deserves close inspection and consideration.
The March 83G
After building a single Formula 3 car in 1969, March Engineering announced ambitious plans for the following year that included factory entries in Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Ford, and Can-Am racing events. March achieved their first Formula 1 victory in the hands of Jackie Stewart, driving for Ken Tyrrell. After a moderate level of success in the following years, including 2nd in the championship in 1971, March’s Formula 1 team was sold to ATS in 1977.
After a halfhearted effort to achieve Formula 1 success in 1981 and 1982, March turned their considerable engineering knowledge towards building Indy cars. Success was quick to come in the form of five straight Indy 500 victories for Cosworth-powered Marches between 1983 and 1987.
When GTP/Group C sports car racing began, March was quick to react with a car based on the M1C project they had worked on for BMW. By 1983, a young Adrian Newey, later to become known as the most talented designer in the Formula 1 garage, was working for March and so tasked with penning the 83G. The 83G was an evolution of the 82G that in turn had its roots in the M1C. Newey made many small advancements in the design of the 83G, and five cars were produced for the 1983 season, four for GTP and one for Nissan to run in Group C. Two of the GTP cars were sold to Al Holbert, one with Chevrolet power and one, 83G-4, with a Porsche flat six derived from the 935 that had been dominant in endurance racing to this point.