AO Racing will pay tribute to the 1983 Rolex 24-winning Swap Shop Porsche 935 in next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, with a special livery on the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Unveiled on Tuesday, the GTD class entry will begin the season with Swap Shop Andial-themed design.
The iconic car, driven by Preston Henn, AJ Foyt, Bob Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena, is owned by AO Racing team co-owner/driver PJ Hyett, on which Gunnar Jeannette’s father, Kevin, was the crew chief.
The car was built by motorsport legend Alwin Springer, former president of and now consultant to Porsche Motorsport North America.
“I’ve literally grown up around the Swap Shop 935, Preston Henn and Alwin Springer,” said Jeanette. “To have PJ acquire the car from the Henn Family and for us to be able to do this tribute at our first 24 Hours with AO Racing and Porsche is very special.
“I hope all the fans can enjoy the livery and get to know the special story which this car helped create in 1983.”
Forty years ago, the 935’s attempt at what was then the 1983 24 Hour Pepsi Challenge at Daytona was anything but boring.
Henn, an American entrepreneur and founder of Swap Shop, teamed with Frenchmen Wollek and Ballot-Lena for the 24-hour endurance racing event.
Foyt joined the team mid-race after his original car, an Aston Martin-Nimrod NRA/C2, retired only 121 laps into the race.
Though Henn jumped at the opportunity to put a 24 Hours of Le Mans and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner in the car, Wollek famously objected, noting his lack of experience in the Porsche 935, and a 15-year absence from sports car racing.
After a quick briefing on the car’s shift pattern from crew chief Kevin Jeannette mid-race, Foyt joined the fray, setting the fastest lap of the race in a downpour.
In the end, the Swap Shop squad came back from two blown turbochargers and a 12-lap deficit to take the checkered flag with a six-lap lead. The events of the day created one of the more memorable and unique race wins in Rolex 24 history.
Hyett, the co-founder of GitHub, and Jeannette, will be joined in the No. 80 Porsche by Multimatic-contracted drivers Seb Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, with Priaulx and Hyett as the full season drivers.