4 April 2012

Race Car Of The Day: Bruce Canepa Pikes Peak Porsche

Crossing a dune buggy and a sprint car together by way of a Porsche engine made perfect sense to Bruce Canepa and Paul Newman in 1980. Front engine Sprint Cars and Indy Specials had been tearing up Pikes Peak Open Wheel ranks for some time, so Canepa figured a rear engine Sprint Car would be a winner for 1981. The original version sported a Porsche 911 naturally aspirated mill, but the upward transition to 14,110 feet played devils games with the carburettors. The solution? Swap out the normal breathing Porsche 911 unit with a twin-turbo fuel injected Porsche 930 powerplant. It worked. Canepa motored up the peak for an on the pole qualifying time. On the race to the top a spectator crossed the course and Canepa as he rounded a corner. Canepa avoided hitting the hapless fan, but the engine stalled in the mayhem. The good news? He got it started again and ran up the rest of the hill for a second place finish in the Open Wheel division. As is the case with so many other race cars through history that worked too well, this car was banned by way of a rules change the winter following its run to the top.

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