PCA Adopts the 944 Cup Race Series
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Photo from Sebring courtesy of 944 Cup.

Article by Patti Mascone

With the racing arm of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) absorbing the 944 Cup, a new light has shined on the front-engine Porsche, which "lived" - its first life - from 1976 to 1995. The first 924 hit U.S. shores in 1976, as Porsche went after younger buyers, who often seemed to be the college-aged children of 911 owners! As the manufacturer tinkered, iterations included each of the following: 924 (and Turbo), 944 (and S, Turbo, Turbo S), 944 S2, and 968.

A few were specifically built for racing - 31 factory-built 1986 944s were constructed for the Rothmans Challenge Series in Canada, driven by the likes of Goodyear, Tracy, and Fellows.

Although you may see one of those remarkable models in 944 Cup today, you don't need one to go racing. 944 Cup founder Dave Derecola's goal remains, 14 years after he founded the series: Take the various 944 models, put them in Cup and Super Cup classes, and level the playing field in each class with weight. Dave, a PCA member from South Carolina, will retain his position as series director, joining PCA's racing committee.

A model that may have been relegated to extinction has gotten a second life, certainly one more suited to Porsche's racing bloodline. In developing rules and running the series since 2002, Derecola's emphasis has been on keeping drivers engaged and helping new drivers enter the fold. The series has flourished, even as the U.S. economy has waxed and waned.

The PCA-944 Cup relationship begin in 2006, when PCA created SP1 (spec), SP2 (Cup), and SP3 (Super Cup). The two organizations ran joint events, with 944 Cup getting split starts if grids reached 15, a level the group regularly exceeded. By 2013, a record 60 entrants took to Watkins Glen, with 17 racers crossing the border from Canada; in 2014, the Midwest chapter joined 944 Cup, jump-starting series expansion at the Circuit of the Americas.

Sponsors have been generous: The most popular "awards" for 2015 were the bright-red bicycles, given to national champs Robbie Wilson (Cup) and Karl Poeltl (Super Cup) by the Pikesville Bike Shop. Each winner was also given a year of entries into the Pirelli World Challenge.
Grassroots Motorsports (/articles/porsche-944-profile/) remarked in 2000 that a water-cooled Porsche could be purchased for the price of a "used Honda," and the car continues to appear on the budget-racer list. Over 130,000 of these Porsches were originally sold in the United States (www.connact.com/~kgross/FAQ/944faq03.html). Of those, just over 56,000 were 944s, sold from 1983 to 1989; the largest production year was 1984, followed by 1986. Unlike other cars of that period, owners kept their 944s drivable, so not only is the model available, a network of parts suppliers (used/refurbished, after-market, OEM) exists to support the amateur 944 racer.

Recently, Super Cup has grown, with grids at the 2015 championship equaling those in Cup. To keep costs down for Super Cup/SP3, explains Derecola, "we kept in place the basic concept that you get to run a stock engine." With ebay and other sources for finding cars and parts, this class has proven to be quite attainable, as well, although drivers must be savvy about the cross-pollination of parts across later Porsches.

No matter the steed chosen, many 944-related suppliers race in, crew for a driver, or support the series, so technical support is readily available. In this series, the competition is tight, but the camaraderie never wanes. And there's always room for one more driver!