The Porsche Indy Car



Porsche's interest in the Indianapolis 500 started back in 1979, when a car was unveileed to race in 1980. They developed it with the Interscope team. The car had a turbocharged 2.6 Liter flat-6 with water-cooled heads, which evolved from the 935 racer. The most important facet, however, was the amount of boost the engine was given--54". At 54" of boost (1.8 bar), the Porsche output 630 Horsepower. One of USAC's rules was about the boost regulations--stating that the minimum was 48" and the max was 54". As it stood in 1979, Porsche fit right in the middle with 54".

USAC was the governing body of the racing series during this era. USAC was a "democracy", that is, the majority ruled in making decisions within the governing body. The majority could thwart the efforts, topple the ideas, and frustrate the ambitions of any different organizations, simply by changing the rules. Because of this, CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) was formed in late 1978. CART went to the members of USAC, expressing concern for their problems associated with the "majority's" strong grip. CART warned that a split was forthcoming, but USAC thought it would not be possible, due to the fact that they owned all the tracks. USAC forgot, however, that Indianapolis never joined, so CART would be able to race Indy.

After Porsche unveiled their car, AJ Foyt became particularly interested with the program. Having experience with Porsche in the past, he knew they would be a formidable cometitor in the 1980 series, something he had planned on winning. In other words, he was scared he would be beaten out of the title. During this time, he was racing a 4 cylinder Offy, running 60" of boost. Foyt went on to suggest that 4 cylinders run 60", and cars with more than 4 cylinders (the Porsche), had to run a max of 48".

In the end, when Foyt threatened USAC that he'd join CART, USAC "simplified" the boost rules to exactly what Foyt had wanted. So, once again, Porsche had a fully developed car ready to kick the competition's ass, and the rules were changed to "ban" the Porsche. All this happened one month until the track opened!


By 1988, Porsche was back on the Indy Car scene when they qualified for the race for the first time. In 1989, they had a great CART season, and with Teo Fabi driving, captured 4th in the series. Tragedy then struck again in 1990. The Porsche was upgraded with bigger engine, more power, and more speed, but CART changed the rules by banning carbon-fiber chassis, thus putting Porsche back to square one with no time for re-development.

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