The ANDIAL 935-L ‘Moby Dick’ race car was a one-off creation that raced between 1982-1985. Without any help from the factory, the small team of dedicated professionals at ANDIAL with significant help from Glen Blakely, this 935-L won the Daytona 24 Hours in 1983 and finished second in 1984, with numerous other podium results in its career. Read on to discover more of this amazing race car’s story.
In 1980, IMSA introduced the concept of GTP cars in their rules for 1981. These would be ground effect prototype cars with various types of engines. Porsche had long since stopped building any 935s, as they were preparing for the new Group C formula in Europe in 1982 and working on what would become the 956. IMSA and the FIA (ACO) had a large parting of the ways in terms of rules at that time. The Group C formula would be fuel-based, i.e. a specific amount of fuel per race, using a ground effect prototype chassis. IMSA went in the opposite direction, still with a prototype chassis but with no fuel limits of any kind. Various engines were approved with various minimum weights. It could be said that the first ‘IMSA GTP car’ was the Inaltera-Ford that ran at Daytona in 1977 as an FIA invited car. Once IMSA finalised the rules in late 1980, Lola was the first manufacturer to build an IMSA GTP car of any note, and the Lola T600 (Chevrolet power) made its debut at Laguna Seca in 1981 and won the race.
Brian Redman would go on to win the 1981 IMSA championship with the Lola T600, although he did accumulate some of the points driving the Garretson prepared Porsche 935s.
Porsche teams in the USA were in somewhat of a quandary at that time, as there were no factory cars available that would be competitive in IMSA. IMSA had already announced that the Porsche 956 would not be allowed to run, as the design placed the driver’s feet ahead of the front axle, which was not allowed in IMSA rules. Porsche was not supporting teams who wanted to put Porsche engines in other chassis at that point in time either (although they would change their minds in 1983).
This led to several teams building their own 935 variants to improve on the latest factory built 935-79. The Interscope team of Ted Field bought a Kremer K4, but in early 1982 testing determined that the Lola T600 was quicker, and so the K4 was shelved, never to run. John Fitzpatrick bought a K4, but then spent quite a bit of time and resources, reworking it to improve its performance, and had some success with it in 1982. Reinhold Joest built two replicas of the factory 935-78 car known as Moby Dick. He used the factory plans, but was not given the water- cooled engine and so used the normal 935 air cooled version. Gianpiero Moretti bought one of the two Joest Moby Dick replica cars, and raced it with some success in 1981 and 1982 in IMSA. Bob Akin commissioned two cars, one was the L-1 Gaaco car and later the 935-84 tube frame car from FABCAR. John Paul built his own cars, JLP3 and JLP4, which he had some success with in 1981 and 1982 (John Paul Jr winning the IMSA championship in 1982 driving a variety of cars including JLP3, JLP4 and a Lola T600).
At this point in mid-1981, ANDIAL also decided to build their own 935 variant. ANDIAL was the partnership of Arnold Wagner, Dieter Inzenhofer and Alwin Springer who had opened a private Porsche repair facility in Costa Mesa, California in the early 1970s. This new car would use all the modifications they had come up with for their successful 1981 car for Howard Meister, also adding a few more. The concept as Alwin Springer explains it, was “A 935 with ANDIAL modifications, with the Moby Dick car in the back of our minds.”
The major difference from some of the others, was that ANDIAL had to finance this project in house, and it was a tall order for them. Also, they built this car themselves with no assistance from the factory (contrary to popular opinion), as they did not get the drawings and plans like Joest had. The goal was to be ready for the 1982 IMSA Riverside 6-Hour race in April. Fabrication expert, Glen Blakely, was brought on board and he started the chassis construction in the second half of 1981. This car would be constructed out of steel tube (not Uni-body or aluminium tube). Howard Meister consented to allow the use of parts from his 1981 car, as the running gear would be all Porsche 935, which helped with the budget, somewhat.
At this point, the IMSA rules for the GTX class, which included the Porsche 935, were quite lax. Gone were the days of adherence to strict FIA Group 5 (homologation) rules. IMSA realised that an FIA Group 5 car would not be competitive with the new GTP cars. Hence, the rules were quite open as to what could be done.
Alwin Springer relates some of the improvements and modifications incorporated to build a better and faster 935:
|1)||Move the intercooler to the middle of the car, right behind the driver, improving weight distribution|
|2)||Run the intercooler cooling ducts through the top of the doors, thereby shortening the air travel, improving efficiency|
|3)||Move the turbos and waste gates to the side of the car, instead of in the middle, improving weight distribution|
|4)||Rework the engine mounting system, so that the engine could easily slide in and out of the car without having to lift the whole car up, improving maintenance efficiency|
|5)||Development of a turbo ‘after burner’ system to reduce turbo lag, which improved drivability in traffic and coming off corners. The system used a custom built electronic unit and injector nozzles, to keep the turbo RPM up when the driver let off the throttle. This then allowed better acceleration from a reduction in turbo lag. While the system was rudimentary by today’s standards, it worked|
Construction went well, and ten days prior to Riverside in 1982 they took the car to Willow Springs Raceway in California for a test prior to the race. Rolf Stommelen was brought over to test the car. Everyone was excited, and expected this would just be a formality confirming how good the car was. After a few laps, Rolf came in, and told everyone the car was impossible to drive quickly, as the chassis was flexing. That was not what they wanted to hear! But based on ANDIAL’s trust of Stommelen as a driver and his feedback from the 1981 season, they packed everything up and returned to the shop in Costa Mesa. The car was immediately stripped to the bare chassis. Their long-time friend Drino Miller, who built off- road chassis for the Baja (Mexico) races was summoned to consult. He brought along his friend, Ted Mangeles, an engineer, to look at the car. Their quick analysis called for some additional large ½” wall thickness steel tubes to be welded into the chassis front and rear. Although Glen Blakely didn’t think this would solve anything, they did it, as no-one had any alternative solutions.
It took some day and night shifts to modify the chassis and re-assemble the car, and they arrived at Riverside on time, but untested after the modifications. They only qualified 46th, as they were still putting everything back together during practice and qualifying. Driven by Al Holbert and Harald Grohs, the car ran fine in the race and was easily leading well into the 6 hours. Towards the end of the race they were run into by another car, in the back, which damaged a waste gate and caused a loss of boost, which lost power. This caused them to lose the lead and in the end, they finished second. However, Harald Grohs set the fastest lap. Thanks to some help from the ‘off-road’ boys, the car was a clearly a success.
ANDIAL sold the car to Preston Henn later in 1982, as Alwin explained, they did not have the budget to run it any further. Preston ran one more race in 1982, the Daytona Finale in November under the direction of Gunnar Racing and Kevin Jeannette. The car driven by Al Holbert, Doc Bundy and Preston Henn finished fourth, after some bodywork damage due to an off-road excursion by Doc Bundy.
The car really hit its stride at the 24 hours in 1983. The car was now being prepared by Kevin Jeannette from Gunnar Racing and his crew. Gunnar was building the engines, although the sale included support from Alwin and Dieter for the 24 hour and Sebring 12 hour. At Daytona, over a 24-hour distance the Porsche reliability (in comparison to the newer GTP cars) would come into play. Bob Wollek qualified the car on the pole using a 3.2-litre engine. For the race a fresh 3.0-litre unit built by Kevin was used. Many of the GTP cars had problems. Preston drove a few stints early, and that was it, leaving the professionals, Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena to do all the night driving, which at Daytona at that time of year was more than 50% of the race. There were problems with both turbos which had to be changed early, so Bob and Claude had to work hard in the night to make up time. Come Sunday morning the car was leading by one lap, but the two drivers were tired, and it had started to rain on and off. Preston wanted to win, so he went and rounded up AJ Foyt, whose Aston Martin had dropped out earlier, to take his place. Imagine Wollek’s surprise when he comes in to pit and finds AJ standing there waiting to get in. Wollek was upset, as Foyt had never driven a 935 before, and was unfamiliar with the car. So, Bob Wollek told the world on TV as he was interviewed that he was not happy being replaced by ‘Mr. AJ Foyt,’ after being removed from the car by Preston. But there was never any doubt about whose team this was…Preston Henn’s. Of course, the script could not have been written any better. Foyt drove much of the rest of the seven hours of the race, and did a superb job. They won by six laps. IMSA was happy, as the amount of press coverage of the race went up ten-fold as Foyt had been one of the winning drivers. Preston Henn was happy, as the publicity for his Swap Shop went up ten-fold. Wollek seemed to begrudgingly accept the winner’s trophy, but Wollek and Foyt would later go on to become the best of friends.
That night, after some confusion over a potential victory party, Kevin and Andy Jensen went to sleep, after being told there would be no party until the next day. Some hours later they got a call from Preston Henn asking why they were not at the party. The ensuing argument, while half asleep, resulted in Kevin quitting in advance (after Sebring) before Preston could fire him! Preston was known to be a cantankerous owner at times.
The rest of 1983 provided mixed results. The Miami Grand Prix was run in a monsoon rain, and the race was stopped early, due to flooding, just after Wollek had made a pit stop, so he could only finish ninth although he was running at the front prior to the stop (basically those who did not stop ended up at the front end of the results). At Sebring a few weeks later, the car was good once again. Now being managed by Graham Everett and Dave Charsley (Kevin, as he had quit, was relegated to the second car with Don Whittington), John Paul Jr. qualified on the pole, but in the final practice ran over a piece of Sebring debris, which broke an oil line and destroyed the engine. Kevin and Graham returned to the Gunnar shop in West Palm Beach and worked all night to repair the race engine, returning on Friday to re-install it. Unfortunately, it failed early in the race most likely due to left over debris in the oil cooler, which in the hectic thrash did not get changed.
After Riverside, Kevin did quit and went back to running his own business, Gunnar Racing. He and Preston would remain good friends for the remainder of Preston’s life until 2017.
At the Paul Revere race at Daytona in 1983, run at midnight on July 4 before the NASCAR race the next day, the car was good once again. Hurley Haywood had by this time probably done many thousands of laps around Daytona. He put the car on the pole, his co- driver was AJ Foyt once again. Since Preston was not doing all the races, he did not really have a full-time crew at this point. Kevin and Gunnar had quit, so it seemed like Preston brought in different people at each race to run the car. Bob Garretson was brought in to manage the race, with Graham Everett as his chief mechanic. Bob had helped Preston earlier that year with running his 956 at Silverstone. It was a good combination, that was rewarded. Hurley took the lead early and handed the car to AJ in the lead, but about 30 minutes from the end things got hectic. I relate the story from Bob Garretson who was on the radio with AJ. AJ radios in, says, “Hey, there is a flashing light on the dash.” Bob asks, “What colour is it?” AJ says, “Red.” Bob says, “Okay, that’s the alternator, we have to conserve the battery, because if we stop to fix it, we will lose the race. Turn off the headlights except where you really need them in the infield.” AJ says, “Okay,” and starts driving around the banking at night with no headlights, and turns them on as he comes to turn 1 leaving the speedway section, then off again when he re-enters the banking at turn 6.
Other teams did notice and started complaining, as the rules state that you must have functioning headlights. Bob says, “Well, we had functioning headlights, we just turned them off for a bit.” The race ended before any action was taken by the officials, and once again IMSA was most likely cheering behind the scenes, as AJ Foyt has won another IMSA race. The press and NASCAR fans at the 2:00 am race finish were excited. Certainly, AJ once again did an excellent job in a tricky situation, and the cool heads of Bob Garretson and Graham Everett pulled it off.
The car also ran Riverside, Elkhart Lake and the Daytona Finale in 1983, but failed to place well due to various mechanical issues.
For 1984, Preston again planned on doing the three early Florida races, as these were the ones closest to his business, the T-Bird Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale. He had hired Michael Colucci and Gary Cummings to take care of his racing cars. He had ordered a 962, but it would not be ready until later in the year. At Daytona the car, driven by Wollek, Foyt and Derek Bell, finished second after being delayed by a lack of boost. A vibration had caused some bolts in the air intake manifold to come out and strip, causing air leakage and loss of boost. Not easily fixed without removing the engine, Mike and Gary jammed a piece of wood between the roll cage and the manifold which helped somewhat and allowed them to continue.
At Miami, a street circuit, the car was just not really in its element against improved GTP cars, and Wollek and Foyt could only finish fourth. At Sebring, again driven by Wollek, Foyt, and Bell, the car was well placed, leading late in the race, when Wollek came in with a broken left front upright. 935 uprights were made from magnesium and were a known weak point. The crew led, by Michael Colucci and Gary Cummings, went to work on it. Gary relates the story: as he is trying to get the broken front suspension parts off, he turns for some tools, and soon has a helper. AJ Foyt, has jumped over the wall with some hammers and a ball joint removal tool and was hammering on the upright to get it off the ball joint. Soon AJ was shouting, “I got it, I got it.” They get it repaired but can only get back to third place. AJ Foyt was probably one of the few drivers around who could fix it himself! It brought new meaning to AJ’s TV commercials for Craftsman tools, as you realised, he really did know tools and how to use them!
In 1985, Preston Henn once again entered Daytona and Sebring with the 935, but both times as a back-up car, as he also entered his 962 (Preston also owned a 956 which he had run at Le Mans in 1983 and finished second). The car (935) failed to finish both races, not even starting at Daytona, but his 962-104 won both races. In fact, Wollek and Foyt won both Daytona and Sebring together in the 962, allowing Foyt to join the exclusive club of drivers who had won the Daytona 24 Hours, Le Mans 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours.
It had become clear that the Porsche 935, even this advanced variant, was no longer competitive with the likes of the Porsche 962, and March GTP cars. The 935-L was reportedly retired to Preston’s house in Pompano Beach, Florida for a while, and then moved to a display at the T-Bird Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale. At last report, although Preston passed away recently at the age of 86, the 935 remained at the Swap Shop, along with many of his other cars.
Race history – ANDIAL 935-L:
|1982||24 Apr||Riverside 6H – IMSA||Al Holbert/Harald Grohs||46||2|
|28 Nov||Daytona 3H Finale – IMSA||Al Holbert/Doc Bundy/Preston Henn||5||4|
|1983||6 Feb||Daytona 24H – IMSA||Bob Wollek/Claude Ballot-Lena/ Preston Henn/AJ Foyt||1||1|
|27 Feb||Miami Grand Prix – IMSA||Bob Wollek||5||9|
|19 Mar||Sebring 12H – IMSA||Derek Bell/Michael Andretti/John Paul Jr||1||DNF|
|24 Apr||Riverside 6H – IMSA||Preston Henn/AJ Foyt/Mario Andretti/ Michael Andretti||9||20|
|4 Jul||Daytona Paul Revere – IMSA||Hurley Haywood/AJ Foyt||1||1|
|21 Aug||Elkhart Lake 500 – IMSA||Preston Henn/John Paul Jr||3||33|
|27 Nov||Daytona 3H Finale – IMSA||AJ Foyt/Bill Adam||4||29|
|1984||5 Feb||Daytona 24H – IMSA||AJ Foyt/Bob Wollek/Derek Bell||4||2|
|26 Feb||Miami Grand Prix – IMSA||AJ Foyt/Bob Wollek||10||4|
|24 Mar||Sebring 12H – IMSA||AJ Foyt/Bob Wollek/Derek Bell||5||3|
|1985||3 Feb||Daytona 24H – IMSA||Preston Henn/Harald Grohs/Jean-Louis Schlesser/Walter Brun||DNS||DNS|
|23 Mar||Sebring 12H – IMSA||Preston Henn/Bob Wollek/Don Whittington||14||DNF|
The author wishes to thank ANDIAL, Alwin Springer, Dieter Inzenhofer, Kevin Jeannette, Bob Garretson, and Gary Cummings for their photos and input to this article.
Written by: Martin Raffauf
Images from: ANDIAL, Gunnar Racing, Gary Cummings, Porsche Werkfoto