As AO Racing makes its IMSA championship debut this weekend at Roar Before the 24, the team will pay special tribute to the 1983 Daytona-winning Porsche 935 in its #80 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The new team competing in the GTD class will start the season sporting the Porsche Porsche 935 #6 Swap Shop ANDIAL livery, driven by Preston Henn, AJ Foyt, Bob Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena. The livery has a personal connection to not one, but two of the 2023 riders. PJ Hyett currently owns the historic 935 on which Gunnar Jeannette’s father, Kevin, was crew chief. The car was built by motorsport legend Alwin Springer, former president and current consultant for Porsche Motorsport North America.
“I literally grew up around Swap Shop 935, Preston Henn and Alwin Springer”remembers Gunnar Jeannette. “The fact that PJ has acquired the car from the Henn family and that we can pay this tribute during our first 24 hours with AO Racing and Porsche is very special. I hope all fans can enjoy the livery and experience the special story this car helped create in 1983.”
Forty years ago, the 935’s attempt at what was then the Pepsi Challenge at the Daytona 24 Hours was anything but boring. Preston Henn, American entrepreneur and founder of Swap Shop, teamed up with Frenchmen Wollek and Ballot-Lena. Foyt joined the team halfway through the race after his original car, an Aston Martin-Nimrod NRA/C2, was retired after just 121 laps of racing. Although Henn jumped at the chance to put a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner in the car, Wollek famously opposed it, pointing out his lack of experience on the Porsche 935 and its absence from sports car racing for 15 years.
After a quick briefing from team manager Kevin Jeannette on the car’s gear changes mid-race, Foyt joined the fray, setting the fastest lap of the race in pouring rain. In the end, the Swap Shop team came back from two blown turbochargers and a 12-lap deficit to cut the checkerboard with a six-lap lead.
PJ Hyett, American software developer and co-founder of the internet hosting service GitHub, first met Gunnar Jeannette while racing vintage cars. The pair became friends and teammates as Hyett continued his career as a sports car driver. The duo recently finished in second place at the WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain with Ben Barnicoat as third driver.