On Saturday, April 12th at about 1:25PM, Mecum Auctions will be selling a significant Porsche 911S GTU racecar, lot S100, that was once raced at Sebring by Bill Freeman and actor-turned-racer Paul Newman. After McQueen, Paul Newman is one of the highest achieving actor/racers in history, and cars driven by the great man carry a hefty premium, racing cars doubly so. A car-guy practically from birth, Newman’s racing career didn’t begin until much later. Having taken classes at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in preparation for his 1969 film “winning”, he was struck by the racing bug, igniting a passion that would burn for the rest of his life.
In 1972, he campaigned a Lotus in SCCA racing. In 1974, Newman got serious about his racing career, and joined the relatively new IMSA GTU category in a Ford Escort RS. While the effort proved fruitful, Newman knew he’d have to jump in all the way if he had any chance of victory. Contacting SCCA National champion Bill Freeman, Newman floated the idea of working together on a Can-Am effort, and it was decided that they’d try their hand at GT Sports Cars, as that was where Newman had immediate experience. They agreed to join forces with Elliot Forbes-Robinson to tackle the 24 hours of Daytona in early 1977 in a Porsche 911 RSR.
The RSR never made it to the start line at Daytona, and the deal fell through. Both Forbes-Robinson and Newman would move into an open seat in a MODENA Sports Cars Ferrari 365 GTB/4 with Milt Minter. Starting over, Newman and Freeman decided to prepare Freeman’s 1974 911S for Sebring (as well as other IMSA and SCCA events during the remainder of the season), spurred on by sponsorship from Beverly Porsche/Audi. Bill Freeman had been racing the 911S since 1975, primarily on his local California tracks. The pair, with their already outdated Porsche managed to qualify for the race, but were well down the order. Struggling for 12 hours, the car climbed to 11th in the GTU class, and 30th overall.
Sebring was a very important race for Porsche in 1977, as they took the top 10 positions overall, as well as the top 8 positions in GTO and the top 7 positions in GTU. The Freeman/Newman 911S ran into a number of issues throughout the race, finishing some 50 laps down to the GTU class leader. Importantly, however, the car did finish the race, soldiering on to complete the 12 hours and retrieve decent result for a car that had already been raced for 3 seasons.
Following the Sebring result, Freeman and Newman parted for the remainder of 1977, and the 911S stayed with Freeman at the helm. At the end of 1977, Freeman sold the car to east-coast racer Tom Ashby. Ashby raced the car throughout 1978, and did manage a stellar GTU victory at Mid-Ohio in August. For 1979, Ashby aligned with Bullwinkle Racing, who ran the car at Daytona that year, resulting in a 20th place finish. This car raced, and continued to be relatively competitive, for an astonishing 22 year career. It’s last trip to Sebring occurring in 1987, 10 years after its first trip. Over the course of its career, the car raced in GTU, GTO, and even the Open class with huge turbo power. As far as we can tell, the car has competed in at least 30 major international events, including the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hour races.
In 2006, Jeff Sime, a reknowned Porsche race car restorer, with his crew at Jeff Works in Wisconsin started on a three-year restoration path, returning the car to its former glory. The process would see more than 1,000 hours of effort exerted, expended in restoring and preparing the car for vintage racing. As it currently sits, the car is powered by a dry sump three-liter flat-six with big 50mm carburetors, Carillo connecting rods, race pistons and competition ported polished heads yielding 12.0:1 compression and an outstanding 360 hp. A customized Porsche 930 four-speed gearbox was employed to handle the power. The suspension is thoroughly modern and keeps the car grounded with full JRZ components, including front struts with raised spindles and coilovers. Keeping all of that power in check is a twin master cylinder braking system. In order to keep the driver safe in the worst of situations, the car was fitted with onboard fire suppression and a modern roll cage.
Tipping the scales at only 2,050 pounds, the car now boasts a power-to-weight ratio of approximately 5.7 horsepower per pound, which is near on 2.6 times better than a stock 1974 911 S on which this car was based. You probably don’t need me to spell this out for you, but it’s a very quick machine.
The car derives its livery from the one worn on the car at Sebring in 1977, though displayed in orange, rather than its original white. Regardless, there are very few vintage races in the world where this car would not be welcome. If you are interested in making this ex-Paul Newman 911S yours, be sure to be in Houston, Texas on April 12th, and be prepared to bid high. See Mecum’s auction listing here.
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