Auction of record-breaking Porsche will help hurricane victims

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Mike Mavrigian, owner of Birchwood Automotive Group of Creston, Ohio, and technical contributor for Modern Tire Dealer magazine, was contracted by Porsche Cars North America Inc. as crew and equipment manager for the historic Porsche Carrera GT Speed Record Run held over the Labor Day weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by race driver David Donohue and NBC Television “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, set a series of Grand American speed records at the track where David’s father, Mark Donohue, set a similar series of records in a Porsche race car 30 years ago.

The younger Donohue set three flying speed records in the production category with the Carrera GT, including a closed-course speed record for the 2.66-mile track of 196.301 mph. He also set records for the measured mile, 198.971 mph and the measured kilometer, 195.755 mph.

Leno set three standing-start speed records in the same car, the fastest being 156.603 miles per hour over the closed-course. Flying records are recorded from a rolling start, while standing speed records are recorded from a complete stop.

On Aug. 9, 1975, the elder Donohue set a closed-course record for racing cars, driving a Porsche 917/30 to a speed of 221.120 mph at the track.

For this year's event, “Our preparation involved months of planning and a full week of car setup at the Porsche Service Training Center in Atlanta and on-track testing at Talladega prior to the final event," says Mavrigian. "The Michelin race tires selected for this program performed flawlessly, both during testing and the official record runs.

"Basically, these were street cars (albeit very expensive street cars) that ran on Talladega’s 2.6-mile 33-degree banked oval at upwards of 196 miles per hour for sustained periods of time. The tires reached operating temperature quickly and provided outstanding adhesion and very predictable high speed stability" for the drivers.

The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT used for the record is Porsche’s "ultimate road-legal sports car," the company says. It is built from ultra-light but ultra-strong carbon fiber, aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel. Its mid-mounted, 5.7-liter V10 engine generates 605 (SAE) horsepower.

Like the engine, its suspension, ceramic brakes and ceramic composite clutch are all derived from Porsche’s racing experience. Some 450 Carrera GTs have been delivered to Porsche enthusiasts in North America.

The stock Carrera GT used for the record at Talladega was produced at the Porsche factory in Leipzig, Germany, and was upgraded with safety equipment only, including a five-point racing harness and Michelin Pilot tires designed to handle the forces generated by the car when at speed on the severe banking at Talladega.

As the records were being set, Porsche decided to donate the car to an auction designed to raise funds to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Leno agreed to oversee the auction of the $440,000 record-setting Carrera GT. Details about the auction will be announced later.

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