Someone recently asked me, "what's the fastest race car you've ever driven?"
I had to think about that one for a minute. I tend to favor slower cars ("smarter to make a slow car go fast, than vice versa") but the STL and STU cars were pretty speedy. As was some Mustangs and such.
But no, I'd have to say that "the fastest race car that I have ever driven" was a Porsche 962.
Of course there's a story!
San Antonio..I love that town. It's one of my fav bigger cities: beautiful geography (I love the Texas Hill Country), southwest culture, the Riverwalk (and its associated civil engineering...ever wonder why the San Antonio River doesn't ever flood the Riverwalk...?), architecture, and of course the food. I think my first time there was during high school when our symphonic band took a tour down there, fell in love with the place immediately.
IMSA kinda liked the town, too. In 1985, the City of San Antonio approved the IMSA Nissan Grand Prix for 1987 through 1990. IMSA GTP cars on the streets! We had to go.
Friend and mentor Bill Aston and I drove down Labor Day weekend 1987 to be flaggers (F&C - Flagging and Communications). And we loved the event! Heart of downtown, lots of parties and goings-on (some so large the cops had to cut fences to let the crowds go home), GTP cars with screaming revs around a circuit and the chigga-chigga-chigga of turbo blow-off valves echoing off the building (long before it was a sign of Subarus approaching). Incredible race cars passing within inches of our elbows (second best seats in the house!)...this was the era of the Porsche 962, Nissan GTP, Spice/Tiga Buicks/Pontiacs, and what a wonderful time to be there!
The teams paddocked inside the Hemisfair convention center (site of the '68 World's Fair) and they'd roll inside through one of the large overhead doors and then swing back outside through another one. Pretty cool.
Drivers were split on the circuit as a race track - it was bumpy - but everyone else around them thought it was fantastic. We all looked forward to the next one.
Other than that first year (and then maybe the first year they swapped it to the other direction) no particular year stood out -- except for 1988.
As part of our F&C duties, each corner station had to be "manned" with an SCCA-licensed driver that held a National Competition License, our highest level in Club racing. This was supposedly in case any car was abandoned at a corner station and had to be flat-towed after the race; the SCCA-licensed driver could assist. As an SCCA member holding both National Competition and National F&C licenses, I was set for the role; each year I got put on a corner with my close F&C family and we had a blast.
Now, as you can imagine, details from that long ago are pretty fuzzy (has it really been that long?) but I recall it was 1988 when I was communicating on the station radio, and about a third of the way through the race the bright red #30 Momo Porsche 962 of Gianpiero Moretti apparently popped an engine and stopped just upstream of our station, up against the concrete wall. I don't recall who was driving - GTP always had two drivers - but the driver stopped on track, smoking, and popped open his clamshell door to signal he was safe.
This caused a full course caution as we needed to get the car off the track. The driver assisted with that flat tow into the runoff area at our station, where we called it in a safe location and the race could continue...and then he got out and simply walked away.
OK, so now we had a dead car sitting at our station with no driver...hold on, wait a sec...we now we have a dead car sitting at our station with no driver! I think that reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, the car will need to be recovered after the race, and the driver is gone, so I'm the guy in that corner to do it! I'm pretty sure my concentration wasn't as good as it was 15 minutes prior to that revelation, and I damned sure I watched that car like a hawk to make sure no one else horned into my space.
The race eventually ended - I presume someone won - and I tossed down the headset and shot over to the car. I introduced myself to the tow driver as the licensed competitor and into that car I jumped.
And man, did that thing fit nice. I sat there for a moment admiring the dash panel -- very much more simple and elegant than today's systems: straightforward analog gauges, a simple unadorned Momo steering wheel (natch), a big ole silver boost knob to my left (or was that brake bias), and something that made me laugh out loud: a simple Porsche 911 lock cylinder with 911 ignition key, and a headlight knob that I swear came from a VW Beetle or Rabbit.
And I fit really nice in there.
Someone caught my attention, we hooked up the rope, and off I went being flat-towed in the #30 Momo Porsche 962 behind a tow truck probably labeled Bob's Towing of San Antonio or something like that. I do recall that our corner station was somewhat early in the lap so I got to parade by most of my F&C buddies, all of them hootin' and hollerin' at me, with me waving like the prince I felt like. A few of them even took photos, providing proof to history that, yes, Greg Amy drove a Porsche 962.
We pulled into the convention center paddock and as I came to a stop I quietly sat there, lovingly looking all over inside and outside, over the top of the nose, off to the side, and scheming just how in the hell I was going to get to drive one of these for real... I vaguely heard a voice, in Italian, that probably said something like, "you can get out now" but no one was going to break my spell...then I was distinctly jarred awake by a quite insistent Italian mechanic's voice that I roughly translated as "hey you, get'a da funk outta my race car!" (ever notice how more angry Italians sound when they're actually angry...?)
So, grudgingly, I slipped out of the car, did an admiring lap around it, and slowly walked away, looking back. My new fav car. My future race car.
Somewhere in my basement, probably tucked in a shoebox, are photos from my friends of me driving by in the #30 Momo Porsche 962. I should go look for those 'cause I know you think I'm lyin'...
But there's probably a video on YouTube of the 1988 San Anonio Grand Prix; check it out, see if that handsome devil is waving.
So you may be saying to yourself, "wait a damned second, you didn't drive fast in this car!!" Well, you didn't ask "what's the fastest you've driven in a race car"; you asked "what's the fastest race car you've ever driven"...
P.S. (149.6 mph in a Honda Civic at Daytona ...just four more tenths, dammit!)