Posts Tagged ‘JW Automotive’

What a great commercial, symbiotic relationship it was between Gulf Oil Corporation and JW Automotive…

The success they achieved together with the Ford GT40 in 1968 and 1969 carried through into the Porsche years of 1970-1971 and beyond of course.

In 1968 the GT40, then getting long in the tooth, won the Manufacturers Championship and Le Mans. In 1969 the reliable old war-horse, again in Gulf-Wyer colours won at Le Mans, narrowly from the Porsche 908, undoubtedly the car of the year. It was one of the few races the 3 litre flat-8 Spyders and Coupes did not win- albeit not by much. The Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver GT40 ‘1075’, also the ’68 Le Mans winning chassis (driven by Pedro Rodriguez/Lucien Bianchi) beat the Hans Hermann/Gerard Larrousse 908L by only seconds, or around 120 metres after 24 hours of racing.

The Porsche 917, first raced in the Nurburgring 1000 Km in June, showed promise towards the end of 1969, winning the Osterreichring 1000 Km in the last Manufacturers Championship round on 10 August. It made sense for Wyer to race Porsche in 1970, and the German’s were happy to contract the racing of their cars to JW- with Gulf again providing commercial support. This event at the Carlton Tower Hotel i assume is the announcement of the parties plans for 1970.

JW were very successful in 1970, they won the lions share of the races- Daytona, Brands Hatch, Monza, Spa, Watkins Glen the Osterreichring and Targa, the latter won by a 908 Spyder. But they didn’t win Le Mans, nor did they do so in 1971.

In both cases Porsche Salzburg won the blue-riband endurance event. At the time JW signed with Porsche Wyer didn’t know about the Porsche family plans to cover its bases with two factory teams- Porsche Salzburg, owned by the Piech family being the other. Cunning plan. The right plan.

The car pictured at The Carlton is interesting to show the September 1969 917 paradigm, especially it’s aerodynamics.

Shortly after the JW engineers and drivers got hold of the 917, working with Weissach, the winning cocktail of changes which made the car so successful in 1970/71 was quickly determined.

One was a Lola T70 Mk3/3B type rear deck which cured the aerodynamic instability issue, the other involved changes to the suspension geometry both front and rear to both make good what was never quite right- and was needed anyway to suit the latest generation of wider and lower profile tyres to be used in 1970.

And the rest, as they say is history…

Compare the 1970 917K of Leo Kinnunen during the Brands 1000 Km with the 1969 917K spec of the original design shown in the brochure below. The Brands race is the one made famous by Pedro Rodriguez, who in this car mesmerised spectators and fellow drivers alike with his wet weather skills to win in this twitchy, difficult to master, high powered car (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Wesley, Getty Images, Porsche AG

Porsche 917 in 1969…

Check out my article on the Porsche 917 first year of competition;

Etcetera: 1969 Porsche 917 ‘Sales Brochure’ in a mix languages…



Glenda Foreman focusses on the Heuers whilst Pedro Rodriguez runs up-front at Le Mans 1970…

Pedro’s girlfriends powers of concentration were not tested, the Mexican’s John Wyer Porsche 917K was out of the race on lap 22 with engine failure, he and Leo Kinnunen started from grid 5. Another 917K, the Hans Hermann, Richard Attwood car won the race.



Rodriguez/Kinnunen JW Porsche 917K Le Mans 1970 (Schlegelmilch)


Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Leo, Pedro, Brian and Jo. Kinnunen, Rodriguez, Redman and Siffert, the 1970 JW Automotive drivers before the off…


monza bros

Siffert, Pedro chillin’, Redman and Kinnunen- JW squad 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

The JW Gulf boys relax before the off, the winning duo were Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen…

There was only one Porsche 917 amongst the first nine cars home at the duration of the Monza endurance classic on 25 April but the German flat-12 was first, Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen were happy winners.

Three Ferrari 512S followed them home, the Ignazio Giunti/Nino Vaccarella/Chris Amon Spyder 1.5 minutes adrift of the John Wyer Porsche.

It wasn’t a happy season for Ferrari in sportscars. Supremely competitive in F1 with the first of its flat-12 engined cars, the 312B, the 5 litre V12 512S really didn’t receive the development it needed to knock off the Porsches.

The German cars mainly raced at 4.5 litres in capacity that year but it was still more than enough. A win at Sebring in the second round of the Manufacturers Championship was Ferrari’s best result, and the flat-8 3 litre, nimble, light Porsche 908/3 mopped up on the tight, twisty circuits unsuited to the 917. The dudes from Stuttgart had the game well covered.


Seppi in conversation, and for the horologists he is sporting a nice Heuer Autavia chronograph  (Schlegelmilch)

The speed of Ferrari’s evolved 512S, the 512M was clear at the Osterreichring 1000 Km in October, so 1971 looked to be a great battle of two amazing 5 litre cars but effectively the Scuderia waved a white surrender flag before the seasons commencement.

They chose to race a new 3 litre flat-12 engined prototype, the 312P in 1971 with an eye to the rule change to cars of that capacity in 1972, rather than the factory race the 512M.

The Ferrari privateers did their best against the Panzers but it was ineffective, the speed of the beautifully prepared and superbly Mark Donohue driven Penske 512M duly noted. The 1971 endurance season could have been the greatest ever had Scuderia Ferrari raced those cars!

monza car

Pedro drives, Leo and the boys ride

Back to Monza 1970. The other ‘works’ Porsches were well back- the JW 917K of Jo Siffert and Brian Redman finished 12th, the Porsche Salzburg 917K’s of Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens DNF with puncture damage after 92 laps and the 1970 Le Mans winning combo of Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood were out with engine failure on lap 63.

Still there was strength in numbers, Pedro and Leo were there at the end, in front…


Rainer Schlegelmich

Tailpiece: Tifosi @ Monza, not as many as if a 512S won…