Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thats it for the other one: 912s in motorsports history

Most porschephiles know the legend and prowess of Vic Elford, Bjorn Waldegard and many others behind the wheel of a 911 rally car.  It is where the series got its first major wins and made a name for itself in racing.  Fewer know about Slobislaw Zasada and his victories rallying a 912, and that he won the European Rallye Championship for Group 1 touring cars in his 912.  There really isn't a whole lot of info out there past that on the history of 912s in motorsports.  But don't ever let anyone fool you that the 912 doesn't have a motorsports pedigree. It may be overshadowed by its 6 cylinder brother, but its there, and it runs through the veins of our cars.

Over the last several weeks, because I am a history geek, and in effort to get some inspiration for upcoming changes to my 912, I have been digging a little to find more info and even pictures of some of these 912 rally cars.  Until recently I had only known of the one picture of Zasada's 912.  With the internet and the help of Rick Becker (founder of the 912 Registry), Hugh Hodges of Australia, and Thomas Lundeval of Sweden (both 911 rally experts), I have started to find what I hope can be the first of many 912 rally cars.  This write up is not a definitive history, and nor is it complete. It also should not be taken as the final word. But what i do present is at least more information than the average 912er may find.

The most famous of all, as previously mentioned is Slobislaw Zasada.  There were many others though, and most of them were from Sweden.

Some of the known entries were:

28th Swedish Rally 9th-13th February 1967:

#116, Albin Griberg/Bo Altermark license plate: B1150
#117 John Kvarnström/Bertil Kanebo license plate: T59123
#60 Leif Nilsson, Porsche 912, License plate: B1080 (8th place finish!!!)

27th Polish Rally 1967
#47 Slobislaw Zasada/Ewe Zasada License plate; 6177KR (1st Place finish!!!)

1967 Gulf London Rally
#67 Bo Johansson/Per Olof Gällsing (1st place finish!!!)
Kjell Gudim/Monty Karlan

Vltava (Moldau) RALLY: 67
Sobieslaw Zazada/Jerzy Dobranski (2nd Place!!!)

also in 1967

Kjell Gudim

drivers who rallied 912s in 1968:

Albin Griberg/Jan Olov Carlsson
Lars Carlsson
Jan Fisk/Sten Åke Andersson
Sven Erik Svensson -
Leif Peterson
Åke Nilsson

 The 912 competed in Group 1 (touring cars) rallies, where as the 911 competed in group 2.  Some other famous 912s, actually raced as 911s, like Tony Adamowicz (aka Tony A to Z) famously won the 1968 TransAm Series in his 911.. which was actually born a 912!

To my knowledge, and from speaking with other sources, none of the 912s were factory Werks Cars.  Not even the famous Zasada Car.  It can be stated though that the factory was well aware of his, and other privateer 912 Rally cars, and that some most likely had factory support.  Zasada was no stranger to Porsche after all, and was a factory driver, and piloted werks 911 cars in several rallies in 1968, including London to Sydney, Monte Carlo (S-C 9167), Tour De France, Argentina to name a few.

So, lets start with the most famous one of all. 


the car was a 912 with the license plate 6177 KR.  Some say it was loaned by the factory, but i have not found any proof of that to date.  It was a privateer entry, not a factory werks car as mentioned above (none of the 912s were), but we do show evidence of factory support.

we can see this is evident in the announcement from Porsche congratulating Elford and stone on their season, as well as for Zasada for capturing the European group1 rallye championship for touring cars in 1967.

Translation from above:
"1967 Year-End Report.

Second part, Motorsport

Sobieslav Zasada, Polish Ralley Champion, 912.

Porsche wins the European Championship for Gran-Tourismo- and "Close-to-Road-Spec" cars.

Since the last Ralley Monte Carlo with the Porsche-Team, top driving-team Vic Elford/David Stone overarchieved all expectations and won with their Porsche 911S not only the Rally European Championship. They won the Lyon Charbonnieres Solitude, the Tulpenrally and the Rally Geneva in their class, too.

In the "Close-to Series" cars class, the Pole Sobieslaw Zasada the European Master Title in a Porsche 912.

Elford/Stone = 57 points, Zasada = 64 points"

We show Zasada had the following history of rallying this 912

1967 European Rally Championship for Drivers Group 1 Porsche 911 S / Porsche 912/ Porsche 911 S/ Porsche 912
1967 Polish Rally Championship for Drivers Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Coupé HF / Porsche 912/ Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Coupé HF/ Porsche 912
source: [url][/url]

We also show that his wife Ewe Zasada was usually his co driver. 

 Here is a picture I found a few years ago of the Zasada car in the Polish Rallye.

Below are a few others...  including the trophy ceremony.

Below is an image of Zasada and Nowickiduring their 5th place run in the Danube rallye

Lastly it is important to note that Zasada also second in Czechoslovakian Rally in 1967.

Next we look at Leif Nilsson.

Here he is at the KAK Rallye Sweeden in 1967, where he finished 8th.

Here he is in another rallye, though not sure which one (you can tell its the same car by the license plate).

Although not as widely known today, probably the most famous 912 rallye driver back in the day was Albin Griberg.  He consistently raced 912s in 67 as well as 68, and was quite successful.

Albin Griberg/Lennart Svensk  in 1967 (not sure which rallye)

Albin Griberg/Lennart Svensk  in the 1968 KAK  Sweden Rallye

Albin Griberg/Lennart Svensk  1968  not sure which rallye.. since no decals, livery or sponsorship, could be practice stages.

Next is Åke Nilsson.  I am not sure where this rallye was.

These next two are also 912 rallye cars in 1967, but it is not clear which rallye or who the drivers were.

This next one, is really an honorable mention.

Tony Adamowicz (aka A2Z)

In 1968 Tony was racing in TransAM.  His 911 was totaled in a race at Daytona, and they needed to act quick to get a new car, however all of there money was in the wadded up 911.  The result was the junkyard dog.  With lucky they heard about a 912 from an impound lot in New York, and picked it up and then set about modifying it for racing, including removing the 912 engine and installing a 911 engine.  There was not much in the way of Road Racing parts for Porsches in Transam at the time, so they rolled their own, especially suspension. 

While it did not race as a 912, it should be noted how its life once started. You can read all about this car on Tony's website.

Below are some pics.  pics are taken from site listed above..

The most interesting thing to me was the equipment.  After seeing so many images of 911 group 2 rally cars, I imagined the 912s would have the same set up.  But then i noticed something.  No roll bars.. little in the way of any safety equipment really, and not even racing suits.  I also noticed other interesting details.  Look at one of the images of Albin Griberg/Lennart Svensk in the 1968 KAK  Sweden Rallye -the rear seats are present and in the upright position!  Look at the same set of pictures in the one that shows the car from behind.  It has a full dash minus the radio.  It appears that everything was left bone stock.

Then I looked up the FIA regulations for group 1 touring cars.  Feel free to read through them but the basic definition is bone freaking stock.  It must contain the same number of seats from the factory.  There are rules on seat measurements.  It literally says 'No changes may be made as it is supplied by the manufacture'.  It does allow some room with lighting, saying the number of lights you can use is 'free'.  Very interesting to see and a little depressing for me in my hopes to make a period correct 912 rallye hotrod.  I guess my excuse will be that Fritz will be a group 2 car.  :)

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