In 1994, nine years after I staged the image of this rather special machine on the back straight at Sebring, and 23 years after I’d had the privilege to see the John Wyer Gulf-Porsche 917 win overall at Daytona and finish fourth at Sebring, we—like Porsche racing–were on to somewhat more mundane things.
Having a new 993 Tiptronic Cab press car for a few days, Betty Jo and I had taken to the mountains of North Carolina to spend some time with friends, wring out this surprisingly capable machine, and get a few pictures for the story for Pano. You know, colorful autumn leaves swirling around beautiful car, that kind of stuff. It all went well until the weather turned rainy, and we headed back for home, stopping at a small country store we knew from previous trips. Small and weathered looking, with a rusty and faded red Ford from somewhere in the 1930s parked out front to provide antique credentials, it offered an array of the stuff you really didn’t need but would kind of like to have.
The owner of this mountain emporium was a pleasant but somewhat scraggly older man, white beard if I recall correctly; he looked the part of a mountain man, though not much like a car guy. But he had seen the 993 and commented on it, following that with the observation that he had once owned a Porsche. Well, lots of people were previous owners from back in the day when you could get a Speedster project for less than a thousand dollars, but his comment was intriguing so I asked what it was.
His reply was something like “917. Porsche 917. Do you know what that is?” Well, yes, I did, but with credulity fully strained I felt the urgent need for details. It turned out that he had previously lived in South Florida and had been in the car business. He had dealings there with another man who had owned a Porsche business, and in some level of negotiations I never understood completely, had temporarily held the title for his friend, and therefore technically owned a 917.
That friend, I realized, would be the Gerry Sutterfield, well known as a restorer and collector, who had beautifully re-done the number two Gulf-Porsche before returning it to the care of the factory, and who had let me photograph that machine on multiple occasions, and even drive it once.
My new mountain man acquaintance had “seen” my 993, and raised me one.