Rob Parker’s 911 Porsche Race Car
Rob Parker grew up around race cars and famous race car drivers, due to his father owning a BMW repair shop in the early ’70s. Rob currently owns his own shop and has been racing HSR since 1986. We had the opportunity to spend some time with Rob both at the track and in his shop.
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Q. Tell us about your race car:
A: My current race car is a 1968 911 Porsche. I bought the car without an engine. It hadn’t been raced for five or six years, and we went through the car completely front to back. I built a pretty elaborate engine with everything I could think of to make it fast as well as replaced all the suspension and brakes.
I placed second the first time I raced it, which was at The Walter Mitty at Road Atlanta, but at Hutchinson Island, we spun a bearing due to oil tank failure. I had to take my old BMW as a back-up car at the season finale at Daytona and placed third in the slow car!
Q: How did you find the car?
A: I work on the 914 Porsche of a racing partner of mine, and we bought the car together. Well, he bought the car, and I built the engine, and later I bought the car from him. We race together a lot and drive each other’s cars. It’s really fun.
Q: What other cars do you own?
A: My number 47 is a GTU IMSA car, which is a 1969 BMW 2002 with Schnitzer body parts left over from my father’s original car and full-body flares. It’s highly modified. It’s been in my family for years, and I started racing this car when I was 17 years old, but I’ve always been into Porsches as well.
Q: Did your dad race the 1969 BMW?
A: He raced pieces of my car! [laughing] My dad bought the car from a friend and converted it to an IMSA RS car.
Q: How did you become interested in cars and racing?
A: My dad raced his whole life, and in 1970, he started Bavarian Imports in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where I grew up. At Bavarian Imports, they worked on BMWs only. I was too young to work there, but I helped my dad and knew a lot about the stuff, because I was always around it.
Jack Baldwin, Gene Felton, and Harry Grant all hung out at our shop, and Gene, Brad Frezel, and Jack were our main drivers. My father was also Gene Felton’s crew chief with the American Challenge series.
It was early in Gene’s career at the time, but later he became one of the winningest drivers at IMSA. He is still a good friend at the track.
Q. Describe your occupation:
A: For about 20 years, I’ve run a shop called German Auto Service in Savannah, Georgia. We specialize in engine and transmission repair for vintage Porsche air-cooled engines as well as preparing them for vintage racing. We do work on BMWs and Mercedes as well, but we’re changing our format to mainly Porsches. We are currently restoring a ’58 Speedster.
We’re still using all Porsche parts as much as possible to keep the cars as original as we can, so that everything is Porsche OE quality.
The HSR vintage racing scene is kind of cool these days. It represents what I remember about racing in the ’70s when amateurs could actually build their own cars and race professionally. We’re building professional cars and racing them in an amateur setting. With the 2 liter and 2.5 liter classes, they are extremely competetive.
Since we’re not professional, and there’s no money involved, this allows for great camaraderie between competitors and mechanics. We all work together to help each other, as well as building some great friendships over the years.
Q: Describe your favorite drive:
A: Hutchinson Island in Savannah is a really great track, but I literally grew up at Road Atlanta on the weekends. I first raced there and took Gene Felton’s professional driving school. I placed third in my first outing there and consider it my home track.
Q: What are your hopes for racing the Porsche 911 in the future?
A: I have to repair a few things and track a few vintage parts, and then we’ll be back in March for the beginning of the new racing season. I’m hoping for reliability and hopefully a top place finish.
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Photos by Frazer Spowart