A Porsche 924 Carrera GTR from the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans is looking for a new owner
The story of this car and its sister begins with Gary Pace, BFGoodrich’s top salesman, who was discovered while working at a gas station by Robert A. Eisentrout, the Vice President of BF Goodrich. Impressed by what Pace had to say during his chance encounter, Eisentrout immediately assigned him his own department, known as the T/A Performance Team. Focusing on racing, T/A tires started in the early 1970s in Trans-Am. In the face of specially designed racing compounds, the victories of the T/A tires became full-page magazine advertisements. With endurance racing successes through IMSA and SCCA, T/A tires made a name for themselves and in the early 1980s BFGoodrich set their sights on the European market with one goal in mind: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. .
With Manfred Schurti and Andy Rouse having won this class at Le Mans in 1981 with a Porsche 924 (factory #36), the new 924 Carrera GTR seems to be the car to use. With the Porsche factory concentrating all its efforts on the new Group C class and its 956, it no longer has anyone to run its 924s, but offers its support to the private teams. A boon ! Being closely linked to Porsche will also strengthen BF Goodrich’s international reputation. Once the cars have been chosen, BFGoodrich must choose who will run them. For this, the Brumos and Herman Miller teams are chosen and each receive a « ready to use » factory 924 GTR. The Herman-Miller car is driven by Paul Miller and Patrick Bernard and the Brumos, our car (#720011) by Doc Bundy and Jim Busby who had close ties to BFGoodrich.
The road to Le Mans begins with the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1982. The Herman Miller Porsche receives the support of Jürgen Barth, while the #720011 sees the arrival of Manfred Schurti. After poor qualifying, the Herman-Miller car finished 11th, 3rd in the GTO class, while #720011 was 19th with gearbox issues.
After Daytona, direction the 12 Hours of Sebring. Barth is still in the Herman-Miller car, the 3rd driver of #720011 is James Broline, an avid racer, film actor and husband of Barbara Streisand. Coinciding with Spring Break, the Sebring crowd is full of revelers, including a group that bought a pig. The latter managed to venture onto the track when James Broline was there. The ensuing incident « destroys » the pig and severely damages the car. The Brumos team managed to get the car back on track but #720011 eventually finished 23rd and the Herman-Miller car retired with a broken crankshaft.
The cars are then shipped to Weissach where they receive cooling and fuel system updates and are prepared for Le Mans by the factory. At the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #86 was driven by Paul Miller, Patrick Bernard and Manfred Schurti, while the #87 Brumos was driven by Jim Busby, Doc Bundy and Frenchman Marcel Mignot.
Manfred Schurti set the 42nd time, the best in his category. The qualification of the #720011 (#87) was not so easy and was almost catastrophic. Marcel Mignot having not yet been able to qualify due to illness, the team had only Busby and Bundy qualified. Additionally, under new ACO rules, Busby did a few laps in the #86 car for a movie shoot and was listed as a reserve driver, leaving Bundy as the only qualified driver on 720011. Tough negotiations between BFGoodrich and the ACO, the #87 was authorized to start from the back of the grid in 55th position, with Busby and Bundy as the only drivers. But this does not end here !
Indeed, Doc Bundy spun with it during practice on Saturday morning, hitting the rails and damaging the rear. Since the ACO regulations state that all cars must start the race in perfect condition, everyone is on deck in the pits. A group of factory Porsche mechanics dismantle Jürgen Barth’s road-going Porsche 924, removing the rear bumper and all the other parts they need to rebuild 720011. Once the job is done, they make it to the grid in time to get going!
Around 8 p.m., while Doc Bundy at the wheel, the accelerator cable of #720011 broke when exiting a bend. Pulling over to the side, he is confronted by a commissioner who asks him if he is giving up, he shouts « no » and works himself under the hood. Fortunately, although mocked by his mechanics, Bundy was aware that such an incident could happen and fortunately had a length of 15 cm of wire in his racing suit. He leaves, gets back in the car, starts and returns to the pits to have the cable changed.
Around 2 a.m., with both cars leading their class, the clutch on Herman-Miller car #86 failed. The pit stop lasts three and a half hours. At 5:55 a.m., with Schurti at the wheel, the #86 returned to the track, but the team received a radio call from the driver a few minutes later saying that he had left the track with one front wheel missing. The race is over and all eyes are on #720011.
At 10:37 a.m., Busby, who noticed that a spectator at Arnage regularly gave him the middle finger, was signaled in slow motion and returned to the pits with a water leak. As the factory 956s work well, the Porsche mechanics are helping to solve the problem. But from then on, the #720011 must constantly fill up with water (eight in total). At the 22nd hour, it loses 5th gear. An hour later it started to overheat, probably from driving in 4th gear for so long and leaking water. With the turbo down, the #72001 returns to the track, but it’s about time the checkered flag is down.
While the Porsche 956 achieve the triple overall, our Porsche 924 crosses the finish line, takes 16th place overall and wins the IMSA GTO category.
The car is then sent to Japan for the 1000 km of Suzuka and ranks 6th overall, 4th in its category. The end of the 1982 season marks the end of the collaboration between BFGoodrich and the car. They achieved their goals with Le Mans and overseas success in Japan.
In 1983, 720011 was retained by the Brumos Porsche team and driven by Deborah Gregg and a women’s team at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19. Painted white and black and bearing the Brumos team name, Kathy Rude and Bonnie Henn, daughter of T-Bird Swap Shop owner Preston Henn, share the wheel. Qualified in 51st position, they unfortunately did not manage to reach the finish because of an accident by Gregg.
It then did a few IMSA races and, in 1984, was sold to Alfredo Mena’s El Salvador Racing. She disputes the 24 Hours of Daytona with Mena, Gregg and Jim Truman. They qualify in 48th position and finish 69th. After Daytona, the team went to Sebring for the 12 Hours, but did not finish (engine problems). She won’t test again…
The Porsche 924 Carrera GTR #720011 finally left for El Salvador. Purchased by the current owner almost ten years ago, an avid collector of racing Porsches, he had it restored to its 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours winner’s livery by racing Porsche specialists Willison Werksatt. It is now for sale by William I’Anson Ltd
A video showing the #87 Porsche 924 Carrera GTR at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans is HERE…
From the text of William l’Anson Ltd
Photos: Porsche, Bob Harmeyer, Luc Joly and William l’Anson Ltd