This month’s Porsche Factoid came to me in a round about sort of way. Even better and as an added benefit is inclusive of a book review. Henry Carraro, a FlatSixes.com subscriber and retired business executive living in Central Arkansas is interested in all facets of Porsche, past and present. Henry was nice enough to copy me on an email in his quest to find more information on Porsche’s early racing endeavors in the US. What he subsequently discovered was news to me and provides an interesting read below.
Porsche Raced in NASCAR
Did you know that Porsche raced in the NASCAR series as far back as the 1950s? That’s right, as Henry discovered in the July/August 2007 issue of “Vintage Motorsport Magazine, The Journal of Motor Racing History”, in an article entitled “Them Foreign Jobs” Henry was stunned to find that several Porsche 356 coupes as well as other sports car makes, raced against the likes of Hudson Hornets, Oldsmobile 88s, Ford V8s and the like in sanctioned NASCAR dirt track events in the 50’s, principally in the Northeast.
The post below and book review is courtesy of Henry. If any of you have an interesting factoid about Porsche or would like to guest post, please feel free to contact me to discuss your ideas.
Edgar Otto Sr. puts Porsche into Nascar
I apologize in advance to the author of the article mentioned above. I have misplaced the magazine, and don’t know the author’s name, so I can not provide credit. I remembered reading in the article that Edgar Otto Sr. promoted the first Foreign against American car race of its kind at Langhorne Speedway, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania in 1951.
And as I recall from the article, he personally purchased the Porsches, Jaguars, Aston Martins, and others sport cars from local dealerships in the Northeast and then hired highly qualified drivers to race these cars against the powerful American lead sleds of the day at various race tracks through 1954.
For a little bit of historical trivia, at the Linden airport in Linden, New Jersey in 1954 A.J. Keller in a Jaguar XK120 coupe became the first foreign car to win a sanctioned NASCAR race event in America. The June 13th event was open to both American stock cars and foreign sports cars. Nearly half of the entries in the 43 car starting grid were foreign cars.
Book Review: Nascar’s Silent Partner
Being an admitted Porschephile and wanting to know more about these diminutive Porsche 356 coupes racing in NASCAR, I Googled Edgar Otto Sr. and among other things, I found that this book, Ed Otto: Nascar’s Silent Partner, had been published in 2008. I ordered the book to see if I could find information and perhaps photographs of the Porsche 356 coupes in action.
Although I didn’t find the Porsche 356 photographs I was looking for nor did I find much useful information on the subject, I did find the book to be a very interesting read nevertheless.
The book is part biography and part oral-history of Edgar Otto Sr. and his unique involvement with promoting motorsport events from motorcycles, midget racers, and jalopies to the introduction of stock car racing throughout the Northeast parts of the U.S.A. and abroad. Beginning in the 1920’s his career spans nearly 60 years in motorsports.
The first part of the book is primarily focused on Mr. Otto Sr.’s formative years and introduces many of his “firsts” in motorsport racing history. Using his public relations savvy and vision for promotion, Mr. Otto saw a way of extending the reach of the midget car racing sport with the first live television broadcasts of an automobile race in America. In the world today of multi-billion dollar deals for televised events such as Le Mans, ALMS, NASCAR, NHRA and other racing venues, this first television broadcast by Mr. Otto ushered in a new era for the sport.
The second part of the book describes from an oral-history standpoint how Mr. Otto’s genius in successfully promoting the sport in the Northeast and beyond, caught the attention of the dirt track boys in the Southeast. One chapter of the book describes an organizational meeting held December 1947 to discuss the possibility of solidifying a fragmented and confusing group of auto racing sanctioning bodies at the time, which ultimately lead directly to the formation of NASCAR with Mr. Otto becoming a Vice President and a 40% owner of the organization.
Ed Otto Molds Nascar
The authors takes the reader through the leadership and involvement of Mr. Otto during formative years of NASCAR and how this imaginative marketing genius help mold NASCAR into the phenomenon it has become today and sadly, only to be forced out of the organization as a result of greed and avarice of a few.
This is not to say that what is known today of the historical origin of NASCAR and its pioneers is untrue, but rather that it is widely incomplete, edited and tightly controlled-information releases to humanize and enhance the public image of NASCAR to the benefit of a few.
This book is a rollicking ride of never before told stories through the early days of racing, in particular NASCAR through the eyes of Edgar Otto Sr., sewn together with inputs from dozens of other people who have contributed greatly to the sport of auto racing in America.
I found the book to be entertaining and enlightening. If any of you have more information on the whereabouts of these NASCAR participating Porsches (or any of the other cars mentioned) we would love to know more. Please feel free to contact me or comment on this post below.
Porsche Factoid 3: 993 Turbo Cabriolet
Porsche Factoid 2: Porsche 968 Turbo S
Porsche Factoid 1: PDK is over 20 years old
Karl Ludvigsen: Porsche Spyders 1956-1964
Garth Stein: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Kevin Gosselin: Hunt for 901
[Source: Guest Post by Henry Carraro]