There were just thirty Porsche 911 Cup 3.8 RSR (Type 993) race cars produced for the 1997 season. This model was the last of the breed of air-cooled, naturally-aspirated 911 race cars to come from the Weissach race department before the introduction of the Type 996 water-cooled cars. To find a 993 3.8 RSR that participated in some of the world’s toughest endurance races in period, and survived unscathed and unmolested, is quite rare.
The late 1990s saw a big growth in GT racing, both in Europe and in America. Straight from the factory, the RSR was intended to compete in 24-hour endurance events such as Daytona, Spa and Le Mans, in a ‘just add driver’ formula. Standard equipment on the RSR included a full welded Matter roll cage, alloy bonnet, front strut brace, fully ball-jointed suspension, two-way adjustable Bilstein suspension, special front spoiler and adjustable rear wing, fender flares, a single racing seat and harness, battery switch and a fire extinguishing system.
But in an effort to demonstrate the car as being as close to a standard road car as possible, Porsche even installed a clock in the car. Angelo Cilli, the car’s first owner, explained further, “They [Porsche] even put power steering into the race car, because they were trying to present it like a showroom stock type of car.”
Prepping the car
This car (chassis #WP0ZZZ99ZVS398062) was ordered new through Porsche Motorsports North America for the American racing driver Angelo Cilli. With the build completed on 12 December 1996, the car was delivered directly to the Alex Job Racing team to be prepared for the 1997 Daytona 24-hour race on 1-2 February. Alex Job recalls when the car was delivered, “When we got the car, we had to put a fuel cell in it and we changed the hood from the original factory aluminium hood to a fibreglass one. There were also some other things we had to do to the car to meet IMSA regulations, and so we also put in a radio, a window net and a fuel cell. The car came finished in red, it was one of the few cars that Porsche did in something other than white.” The addition of the yellow-coloured wheel arch extensions, rocker panel and rear wing was at the request of the owner, Angelo Cilli.
The standard doors had to be removed for practical reasons of fitting the deeper Daytona side impact bars. The heavier steel doors were replaced with GRP doors which were frameless because the regulations did not allow any car to run with side windows, and so the doors had to be fitted with window nets.
The 993 RSR was powered by a M64/75 type engine, the bottom end of the engine having its origins in the 993 3.8 RS model, but the top end was significantly more lively. Because the M64/75 engine ran high lift RSR cams, it was fitted with special barrels and pistons that had deeper valve pockets. The whole top end comprised stronger but lighter valve gear, including thinner valve stems, to cope with a maximum engine speed of 6900 rpm. The inlet plenum and exhaust manifolds were thoroughly revised and mated to six individual throttle bodies. Power was delivered through a single-mass flywheel to the RSR 6-speed Type G50/30 manual ‘box. This car was also fitted with the optional larger 380 mm endurance front brakes, driver-adjustable front roll bar and a 100-litre safety fuel cell.
Daytona 24 Hours, 1-2 February 1997
There was quite a variety of 911s entered in the Daytona race that year including a 964 Carrera RSR, 911 GT2 Evo and the 993 Cup 3.8 RSR. Of the 101 cars entered, a total of 80 cars eventually lined up on the grid for the 24-hour race, making the circuit a very busy place.
Eric Bretzel remembers that Alex Job was, and still is, a very professional organisation, “It was a great experience being able to race under Alex Job’s direction because he made sure that the car was absolutely ready to run. As a prelude to the race, the amount of practice that we did, driver changes, he made us practice and practice until we were down to 20 seconds for a driver change. And in the actual practice sessions on track, we weren’t trying to set lap times, he had us bedding in brake pads and rotors (brake discs) so they were ready to go during the race.
“He knew Daytona, so he knew how to set the car up and not run it too low to the ground because compression could kill a tyre. The inexperienced teams would typically try to get the car nice and low for better aerodynamics, not realising that the compression on the banking would push the body further down, deep into the tyres, eventually causing a puncture. It was just a well-run team.”
Race day arrived, and the #26 911 Cup 3.8 RSR was to be driven by the all-American team of Angelo Cilli (owner), Anthony Lazzaro, Eric Bretzel and Mike Conte. They were placed 64th on the starting grid as Bretzel recalls, “Anthony was the pro driver so he qualified the car.”
Alex Job recalled that the car ran without any mechanical issues, performing well, until that is, when the car left the pits one time during the night. “The only problem that we had was the bonnet which flew off during the night. It was located by four pins and one or both of the front pins broke, and the bonnet flew off.”
Eric Bretzel was driving at the time, “We were doing double stints and I had come in for fuel and whoever put the fuel in, closed the hood but neglected to put the hood pins in. So, I went back out on the track and at that time Daytona was not lit up like it is now. I remember, all of a sudden everything went dark but then I could see again. It took me a while to figure out what had happened but basically the darkness was when the hood came up in front of me, and then it was gone. That was somewhere just before midnight, and I radioed in and told them that the hood was gone, but we just kept on going. I noticed a loss of some downforce because the car developed a push in the slower corners that it didn’t have before, otherwise it just kept on trucking.”
Putting this unexpected development into perspective, the #26 Porsche ran for around twelve hours with its bonnet missing, which should have adversely affected the car’s aerodynamics. The team could not fit a new bonnet as they did not have one at the circuit, and a standard bonnet would not have helped as the hinges had been removed from the car in the interests of weight saving. Despite this setback, the #26 Porsche ran without fault and finished 14th overall and fifth in the GTS-3 class.
About the rear wing, Alex Cilli explained, “We had the Gurney lip from the first race at Daytona. And then there was an aluminium extension that Alex built that we put on for Sebring in ‘97, because at Sebring you needed more downforce. That was the reason we didn’t do it for Daytona because we didn’t want to increase the drag.”
When asked what his favourite memory of this car was, Alex Cilli recalled, “When we got the factory 993, that was really a piece of cake, it was very nice to drive, very easy, it was the best race car that I had ever driven. I remember Alex Job stuck a decal on what would have been the glove compartment lid on the right-hand side, ‘Don’t hit shit’. We were faithful to that.”
Sebring 12 Hours, 15 March 1997
The car’s next race was the Sebring 12 Hours, where the car was driven by Angelo Cilli, Anthony Lazzaro and Eric Bretzel. For the Sebring race, a higher rear wing was added, comprising two aluminium upright extensions that allowed the height of the horizontal wing to be significantly increased.
The #26 Porsche 993 started from 39th place on the grid and was running well until, as Eric Bretzel explained, “Sebring was not my finest moment. To put it plainly, I missed a shift coming out of turn 17 and although it didn’t break anything, I told the crew right away what I had done. They chose, rather than to continue on with guesswork, to bring the car in and change the exhaust rockers which Job thought was a weak point. I had raced that track many times before and since, and turn 17 really loads the car up and it pulls the human body away from the shifter, and so I found 3rd instead of 5th gear. But again, that is professionalism, I told them right away that the car was fine but they elected to make sure that the car finished the race rather than take a chance on something breaking out on the track. It took about 30 minutes to change all the rockers, and the car ran flawlessly afterwards.”
Angelo Cilli explained it the way he saw it, “It was in the 10th hour, and Eric was in just before the rotation with Anthony Lazzaro. He was coming out of 17 onto the front straight and he stuffed it into third gear rather than fifth, and that was it. We were running a very solid third and could possibly have finished second because Anthony Lazzaro was the lead driver, and he was very fast.” The car eventually finished in 32nd place overall and 17th in the Sports Car GTS-3 class.
Road Atlanta 2 Hours GTS, 19 April 1997
The Road Atlanta 2 Hours sprint race was the car’s next outing in 1997, where Angelo Cilli and Anthony Lazzaro finished 20th overall and eleventh in the GTS-3 class. Once again, the RSR finished just ahead of its 23rd place on the starting grid. This was the car’s last race in 1997, and so it was returned to Alex Job Racing where it was stored and prepared for the following season.
Daytona 24 Hours, 31 January-1 February 1998
There were no changes to the car for the ‘98 season, as Alex Job recalls, “It was virtually the same car, but in ‘98 we had some engine issues. I remember we never converted the bodywork on that car, it still had the original Porsche works front splitter and everything.” At the 1998 Daytona 24 Hours, the Team Seattle Porsche was once again run by Alex Job Racing, where Angelo Cilli, Don Kitch, Byron Sanborn and Kim Wolfkill qualified the car in 55th place on the grid. Alex Job again, “We kept cracking cylinder heads and it happened twice, so twice during the race we actually had to remove the engine, disassemble it and replace the cylinder head. That is why we finished in such a low position in ‘98.” The team’s finishing position was 263 laps behind the winning Ferrari 333SP in 34th place, but actually the team was NC.
Sebring 12 Hours, 21 March 1998
The car’s final race under the watchful eye of Alex Job was the 12 Hours of Sebring on 21 March 1998. Doing duty behind the wheel were Angelo Cilli, Charles Slater, Don Kitch, Dale White and Michael Peterson, who placed the car 27th on the starting grid. This team of drivers managed to bring the car home in 19th place overall and seventh in the GT3 class.
Following its last race in 1998, the car saw very little action and in 2006, the distinctive red/yellow 993 RSR was sold to Jeff Stone of Kelly-Moss Racing. Jeff Stone recalls, “I bought the car from Alex directly and at that time it was in as raced condition with some body panels that had been changed from the original factory items. The car was in very good condition with only cosmetic issues at that time. During the time that I owned it, it was returned to one hundred percent correct as delivered from Porsche.”
Stone reinstalled the original OEM urethane bumper covers, as the factory parts had been removed and stored when the car was fitted with lighter and stronger fiberglass components for racing.
The 993 RSR was sold to Neil Primrose, the drummer for the Scottish rock band Travis, in late 2006. Primrose had broken his neck in a swimming accident in 2003 which almost cost him his life, but through determination and hard work he recovered and later regained the use of his limbs.
It was while he was laid up that Primrose had time to consider his passion for motorsport as he had been a motorsport enthusiast since he was a youngster. After searching for a while, he found and subsequently acquired the Angelo Cilli Porsche in 2006, but the only event he participated with it in was a track day at the famous, but intimidating, Spa circuit in Belgium. Primrose spent no more than two hours on the track with the Porsche that day.
Paul McLean ownership 2009-2018
British sports car enthusiast, Paul McLean, owned the Cilli 993 RSR for longer than any of its previous owners. While Primrose’s enthusiasm for the car had gone off the boil, McLean’s love of Porsche racing cars was running at full steam, and he managed to prise it away from the drummer.
McLean recalls, “When I first bought the car from Neil Primrose, the arch extensions were just red and it had none of the [original] vinyl livery. When Primrose bought the car, he specifically asked Jeff Stone to remove the livery and he also wanted the fibreglass front and rear bumpers replaced with proper factory polyurethane parts. I have now had a company reproduce the original livery and to put the arch extensions and the side skirts back to yellow. These are just vinyl wrapped in yellow, they are not painted.”
One of the great things about this car is that it is today almost as it was back in ’97 when it first raced at Daytona. So unmolested is this RSR, that it still has its original, undamaged factory tub, and the car still carries its factory first paint. The bodywork tells the story of the twelve hours it completed at Daytona without a bonnet, as the grit and debris kicked up from the track had peppered the paintwork of the front bulkhead inside the front compartment. The wheelarches still show the signs of the bits of rubber and stones picked up by the tyres and thrown upwards against the inner wheelarches. The scratch marks across the roof from the numerous air hoses that were pulled over the car to change wheels, are still evident. In their own way, the body and paint work tell the story of this car’s competitive life in the patina it still carries from the period.
McLean pointed out that the wheels on the car are still the ones from its racing life in period, “You can see the Alex Job Racing logo spray-painted onto the inner barrels of the wheels. It is commonplace for teams to mark up their rims because at the track you might have twenty or thirty teams rocking up with tyre trolleys and dumping wheels for tyre fitting, and those wheels have got to go back to the right team. It is a nice indication that Alex Job’s marking is still on those rims, so they must be at least one of the sets of rims that the car raced on in ‘97 or ‘98.”
Paul McLean has only competed once with the car, as he explains, “I raced the car only once in a proper race, and that was an invitation round with the Porsche Club of Great Britain, and I finished second with it.” Apart from that outing, McLean has displayed the car at different events and driven it in various demonstration runs such as the Silverstone Classic and the Algarve Classic at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal in the Global Endurance Legends series.
Chassis #8062 today
This 993 RSR carries the flag for Porsche, representing the last of the air-cooled breed, at a time when GT racing was enjoying a resurgence on the international motorsport stage. Whether the 911 RSRs of today rise to the legendary status of the 911 RSRs of yesteryear is yet to be seen. Fortunately, though, we have these icons from the past to enjoy for now.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale and Porsche-Werkfoto