Chassis #: 956-110
Gearbox #: 956/01-002
The powerful Porsche 917s were replaced by the open-topped 936 equipped with a 2.65-liter turbocharged flat-six. At the end of the 1981 racing season, the FIA replaced Groups 1 through 7 with new categories: A, B, and C, with Prototypes falling under the 'C' category. The rules were loose but did dictate size, fuel consumption, and that the forward-most section of the undersides be flat. Porsche began work on its first new protoytpe race car in a decade. The team consisted of development engineer Norbert Singer, engine specialist Valentin Schaffer, body/chassis engineer Horst Reitter, and racing manager Peter Falk.
Porsche's new race car was called the Type 956. It had a bonded and riveted sheet-aluminum monocoque with the front and rear suspension units attached. Working around the 'flat under-tray' rule, Porsche engineers created large under-floor tunnels, or venturis. This setup, along with a carbon-reinforced Kevlar body and adjustable rear wing, the 956 created immense downforce.
The 935/76 engine had water-cooled four-valve heads welded to its air-cooled cylinders. It employed twin KKK turbochargers, mechanical fuel injection, and Bosch ignition and fuel management system. Roughly 600 horsepower was produced.
The first completed car was ready for track testing at Weissach in March 1982. Production followed and eventually 25 examples were built for the factory team and then customer sales through 1985.
Highlights of the Porsche 956 included a 1-2-3 finish at LeMans. The factory team competed at LeMans the following year, again with three entries sponsored by Rothmans and supported by eight privateers. As the checkered flag fell, the 956 had claimed the top eight finishing positions, plus 10th.
This particular Type 956 is chassis number 956-110. It was acquired new in May of 1983 by John Fitzpatrick Racing (JFR) and delivered just prior to that year's Le Mans race. That year, it was driven by Fitzpatrick, Dieter Quester, and David Hobbs. They began in 11th position and were running as high as 3rd overall with a fuel pump forced the car to drop out in the 10th hour. This was the only customer 956 that did not complete the race.
Fitzpatrick drove the car to a 4th place finish at the Norisring Trophy race in July 1983, after starting 9th. Two weeks later it was in the United States. Since IMSA had banned the 956 due to the pedal box was placed too far forward, JFR competed in a portion of the SCCA's Canadian-American Challenge series while using their 935 in IMSA contests.
Fitzpatrick qualified on Pole at the Road America and went on to win the race. At Mosport in Canada on September 11th, Fitzpatrick started 5th and finished on the podium in 3rd place.
The car then returned to Europe and competed in the Brands Hatch 1000 KM. Fitzpatrick and Derek Warwick qualified 4th on the grid, and won the race. A month later at Imola, the Fitzpatrick entry qualified 5th and finished 2nd after leading much of the race. At Mugello, Fitzpatrick shared driving duties with Hobbs, and Thierry Boutsen. They started 4th and finished 3rd. In early December, it went to South Africa. Sudden rain shower on a slow corner sent the car and Hobbs into the catch fencing, resulting in a DNF.
On April 23rd, Fitzpatrick entered three cars at the Monza 1000 KM. Italians Renzo Zorzi and Georgio Francia were given driving duties of 956-110. Unfortunately, 956-110 dropped out due to engine failure.
For the Silverstone race on May 13th, 956-110 wore Skoal Bandit livery. Rupert Keegan and Guy Edwards shared driving duties. It began in 10th and finished on the podium with a 3rd place finish.
956-110 competed at LeMans for a second time in 1984. It was entered by Lord Vestey with Adrian Hamilton as team manager. Charles Ivey in London was hired to prepare the car for the event. Chris Craft, Alan de Cadenet, and Australian touring car champion Alan Grice were given driving duties. The car wore silver and black livery of Rollei Cameras. It was running as high as 11th place overall when it was forced to retire on Sunday morning. The 1984 LeMans race would be the final race. It was entered at Imola for Hobbs and Boutsen but it did not arrive.
A short time later, the car was returned to Charles Ivey to be rebuilt as necessary. It was put back into the 1983 JDavid livery, retaining the LM long-tail coachwork from its final race in June of 1984. A short time later, the car was sold to Jamey Mazzotta of California. While in his care, the car appeared at the 1990 Porsche Parade in Monterey, California.
The car entered the care of its current owner on September 5th of 2002. It was delivered to Oakland, California in early December for shipment. It arrived in the United Kingdom on January 18th of 2003.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2019