Al Holbert / Double-Duty: IMSA & TransAm

by Harry Kennison

Harry Kennison is a fan with a camera and a gift for telling good stories.  This is the first in a series of stories of the sixties and seventies. We hope you enjoy them.

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Holbert leads the Porsche of Ludwig Heimrath (74) down the ultra-fast Moraine Sweep en route to a 3rd place finish at the 1975 Elkhart Lake TransAm race.

In the mid 70’s there were two major national sports car racing series in America; the IMSA (International Motor Sport Association) series and the Sportscar Club of America’s TransAm series.  Although there were some regulatory differences between the two series several competitors entered both and a Porsche RSR was definitely the weapon of choice.

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Al Holbert driving his Porsche RSR to victory in the 1975 IMSA race at Mid-Ohio.

Perhaps the most formidable and successful of those drivers who competed in both series was Al Holbert. 

Al was born in 1946 and was the son of Bob Holbert, a highly successful Porsche racer who ran a Porsche dealership in Warrington, Pennsylvania.   He worked part time for Roger Penske while attending Lehigh University where he graduated in 1968. 

In addition to his dad, Al picked up a lot of driving tips from one Mark Donohue, Indy 500 winner, TransAm champion, CanAm champion and   F-1 competitor.

In 1974, Holbert finished third in the TransAm at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America in his Porsche RSR, despite a severe horsepower disadvantage to the big-block Corvettes and Cameros.

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Holbert starts his Porsche (14) in fourth spot behind the two BMWs of Hans Stuck (25) and Sam Posey (24) and his Porsche rival, Peter Gregg (59).

In 1975 Al Holbert piloted his #14 Porsche RSR to six IMSA wins including the round held at the scenic Mid-Ohio road course where he started fourth on the grid.  In addition to stiff competition from his Porsche rival, Peter Gregg, Al would also have to contend with the factory BMW effort featuring 3.0 CSL’s driven by F-1 ringer, Hans Stuck, and American, Sam Posey. In the end, Al’s familiar blue Porsche would emerge victorious. This was but one of his six victories that year en route to third in the championship.

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Al Holbert shows the way through the Mid-Ohio esses with Peter Gregg in the Brumos Porsche close behind.

Before his untimely death in 1988 in a small plane accident near Columbus, Ohio, Al Holbert racked up three Le Mans victories, two Daytona 24-Hour wins, two Sebring 12-Hour victories and was named to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. 

 

He was a 5-time IMSA GT Champion and the series’ all time leader in wins with 49 victories.