Al Holbert

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Al Holbert's championship-winning Löwenbräu Special Porsche 962.

Alvah Robert "Al" Holbert (November 11, 1946 at Abington, Pennsylvania – September 30, 1988) was an American automobile racing driver who was a five-time champion of the IMSA Camel GT series.

Life and career[edit]

Al Holbert's 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 on static display at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV.

The son of racecar driver Bob Holbert, who also ran a Volkswagen-Porsche dealership in Warrington, PA, near Philadelphia (one of the first Porsche dealerships in the USA), Holbert worked for Roger Penske while studying at Lehigh University. Holbert began racing Porsches in the northeast division of the SCCA, racing a C-production Porsche 914/6 against, among others, Bob Tullius (Triumph TR6) and Bob Sharp (Datsun 240Z). In 1971, Holbert scored his first race win in a Porsche and would turn professional in 1974. He would score his first of his two IMSA titles in 1976 and 1977 in a Dekon Monza. Being a Porsche supporter, Holbert allowed Porsche technicians to inspect his Monza, which would eventually lead to Porsche entering the series with turbocharged cars such as the 934 that led to a Porsche dominance for the following years. During that time Holbert jumped ship to the Stuttgart marque.

From 1976-1979 Holbert raced 19 career races in NASCAR. In those 19 races, in which he drove primarily for James Hylton, Holbert scored 4 top ten finishes.

He also added an IMSA GTP title in a Porsche powered March 83G when Porsche were unable to make their 956 eligible for competition that year. February 27, 1983 he won the Grand Prix of Miami. Holbert finished fourth in the 1984 Indianapolis 500, and led the Porsche IndyCar effort in 1987-1988. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1983, 1986, and 1987, the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1986 and 1987 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1976 and 1981. Holbert was the head of the Porsche North America's Motorsports Division and ran his own racing team, Holbert Racing. In 1988, Holbert realised that the Porsche 962 that had brought him success in his earlier years was becoming outmoded by the newer generation of racers from the likes of the Jaguar XJR-9 and the Electramotive's Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo. His plan was to build an open top Porsche-engined racer for customer teams. Porsche eventually built such a car nearly a decade later, although the WSC-95 would never be built for customer teams as Holbert and Porsche intended.

Death and afterwards[edit]

On September 30, 1988, Holbert was at the IMSA Columbus Ford Dealers 500. That evening, Holbert was fatally injured when his privately owned propeller driven Piper PA-60 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff near Columbus, Ohio when a clamshell door was not closed. Holbert successfully diverted his aircraft away from a group of houses it was heading toward.[1][2] At the end of the season, the team was disbanded and IMSA would retire his race number 14.

Former Holbert Racing chief mechanic Kevin Doran later became a noted team owner. Son, Todd Holbert was also a mechanic, and is currently with Toyota developing their NASCAR Tundra and Camry vehicles.

Awards[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Racing record[edit]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1977 S
+2.0
1 G Inaltera LM77
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8
France Inaltera France Jean-Pierre Beltoise 275 13th 5th
1980 GTP 3 D Porsche 924 Carrera GT
Porsche 2.0L Turbo I4
Germany Porsche System United Kingdom Derek Bell 305 13th 6th
1982 C 3 D Porsche 956
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
Germany Rothmans Porsche System United States Hurley Haywood
Germany Jürgen Barth
340 3rd 3rd
1983 C 3 D Porsche 956
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
Germany Rothmans Porsche Australia Vern Schuppan
United States Hurley Haywood
370 1st 1st
1985 C1 3 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
Germany Rothmans Porsche Australia Vern Schuppan
United Kingdom John Watson
299 DNF DNF
1986 C1 1 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 2.6L Turbo Flat-6
Germany Rothmans Porsche United Kingdom Derek Bell
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
368 1st 1st
1987 C1 17 D Porsche 962C
Porsche Type-935 3.0L Turbo Flat-6
Germany Rothmans Porsche AG Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
United Kingdom Derek Bell
355 1st 1st

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key)

CART[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Rank Points
1984 Alex Morales Motorsports United States
LBH
Ret
United States
PHX1
Ret
United States
INDY
4
United States
MIL
Ret
United States
POR
Ret
United States
MEA
5
United States
CLE
7
United States
MIS1
Ret
United States
ROA
Ret
United States
POC
Ret
United States
MDO
Ret
Canada
SAN
United States
MIS2
13
United States
PHX2
Ret
United States
LS
Ret
United States
LVG
DNS
18th 28
1987 Porsche Motorsports United States
LBH
United States
PHX
United States
INDY
United States
MIL
United States
POR
United States
MEA
United States
CLE
Canada
TOR
United States
MIS
United States
POC
United States
ROA
United States
MDO
United States
NAZ
United States
LS
United States
MIA
DNQ
NC -

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jacky Ickx
Derek Bell
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1983 with:
Vern Schuppan
Hurley Haywood
Succeeded by
Klaus Ludwig
Henri Pescarolo
Preceded by
Klaus Ludwig
Paolo Barilla
Louis Krages
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1986 with:
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Succeeded by
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Preceded by
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Al Holbert
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1987 with:
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Succeeded by
Jan Lammers
Johnny Dumfries
Andy Wallace