Get to Race a Porsche – 944 Spec is a Growing Class

944 Spec

944 Spec is growing in many NASA regions. As a result, the Championships events on both coasts are always hotly contested, and the camaraderie among the competitors is first rate. With “half a V8” from the Porsche 928 in the front and a transaxle in the rear, the cars are exceptionally well balanced. They’re also reasonably light at 2,600 pounds, so they’re easy on tires and brakes. If you investigate a little, you’ll find it is much, much less expensive to race a Porsche than you might think. To look further into the rules, visit: 944 Spec Rules

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Class Description

“The Porsche 944 924S Spec class is a class for those individuals who wish to race a Porsche in a competitive series with limited expense and low cost of operation. These rules are intended to control costs and reduce any performance advantage from the cars so that driving ability and race setup are the greatest factors in determining winners. The following are approved and disapproved items for the class. The spirit of the class is for all cars to be equal in weight and horsepower and be competitive with one another. The focus will be on driver ability and not dollar ability. This class is not intended to be an engine builder or innovator’s class.”

Eligible Makes and Models

1983-1988 Porsche 944, Normally Aspirated, 2479 cc, eight-valve engine 1987-1988 Porsche 924S, 2479 cc, eight-valve engine

Donor Prices and Availability

$500 to $3,500

Engine Specs

Horsepower

138 plus 2, power cap, averaged from three dyno runs

Torque

138 plus 2, power cap, averaged from three dyno runs

Compression ratio

10.5:1

Weight

2,600 pounds with driver

Fuel Required

Retail pump grade 92 octane

Average Cost to Build Car

$5,000 to $6,000

Average Cost to Buy Built Car

$5,000 to $12,000 for a national contender

Typical Modifications

  • Any air filtration system may be used.
  • Any ducting to the intake system must be from the factory turn signal location in the bumper or fog light bucket only. The intake to the ducting must be contained within the OEM opening in these areas.
  • Accusump oil pressure accumulator.
  • Oil and transmission coolers

Cost Analysis

Average cost to run a weekend — $1,000

Consumables Prices

Tires, size, brand and prices Toyo Proxes RR 225-50R-15, $195 each

Brakes, brands and prices

Hawk DTC70s front, good for about half a season, $218 Hawk Blues or HP Plus in the rear, good for a whole season, $153

Available contingencies

Hawk, Toyo, Winding Road, Spec Clutches, Sampson Racing Communications, Frozen Rotors.

Factory Participation

Nein.

Benefits

  • Robust engines
  • A good engine rebuild lasts for several seasons
  • Adjustable front shocks
  • Durable transaxles
  • $1,500 roll cage kits
  • Low fuel consumption, about 15 gallons per weekend
  • 944 Spec cars have a bit more straight-line speed than a Spec Miata, which makes them more pleasant to drive in a typical mixed-class race group. Out-of-class traffic is easier to manage

Challenges

  • Shift linkage can be iffy, but rules-compliant aftermarket replacements are now available
  • Knowledgeable mechanics can be difficult to find

Rulebook Highlights

  • Stock parts may be updated or backdated, except where otherwise noted.
  • For purposes of these rules, “Power” will be defined as (HP+TQ)/2. The maximum allowed engine power output is 138.0, plus 2.0 to account for dyno variation. Any car exceeding this total power output of 140.0, as determined by the dyno procedure listed below, will be repositioned to last place from the session or race immediately preceding the dyno testing.
  • 944 Turbo valve springs may be used as replacement valve springs on both the intake and exhaust valves.
  • A camshaft key offset 2 degrees advanced is allowed for motors equipped with the low compression 9.5:1 pistons. Motors equipped with the high compression 10.2:1 pistons must use the OEM camshaft key with no offset.
  • Any external oil cooler, such as the factory turbo unit, may be added or used to replace the factory oil cooler.
  • Any external transmission oil cooler, and external transmission oil pump may be added.
  • Oil pressure reservoirs, such as the Accusump, may be installed provided their installation conforms to NASA CCR.
  • A “trap door” baffle in the bottom of the oil pan may be added to prevent oil starvation in left hand corners. This baffle typically consists of a vertical plate with a free-swinging one-way panel. This plate shall be welded into the sump of the oil pan in the approximately 2” from the side of the oil pan that contains the drain plug. Non-OEM windage trays and non-stock crank scrapers are not allowed.
  • A ring around the oil pickup screen may be added. The oil pickup and drain tube may be reinforced or extra supports added.
  • Any air filter or filtration system may be used.
  • The stock genuine Porsche OE computer engine management system (DME) is required. Genuine Porsche OE unmodified chips are required.
  • Any clutch disc may be used. The pressure plate and flywheel must be OEM or exact equivalent of no less weight for particular model of car.
  • Camber plates are allowed provided they bolt to the chassis using existing shock mounting holes and make no modification to the shock tower.
  • Stock rubber suspension bushings may be replaced with any non-metallic bushing.
  • Lexan may be used for windshields when conforming to NASA CCR 15.13 and may be substituted for window glass in the doors.

 

What Racers Say

Jason Stanley, NASA Southeast Series leader

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“The setup window for the car is extremely wide, meaning its super easy to get a car to be competitive with the basic modifications and known settings. Even if you are off just a little bit, the car will typically remain stable, predictable, and relatively competitive. This means that even if you don’t have all the shiny best parts, you can still be fast and have fun. “I randomly attended a Chump Car race and made friends with someone who also raced 944 Spec at the time. He turned me on to the class and all its benefits, which I liked more than the other local class that was popular in Texas, CMC. I liked the 80s German design. I liked that I could say I race a Porsche. And I knew the car would be balanced since its drivetrain design is similar to a C5 Corvette, which is what all of my HPDE experience is in. My last point of analysis was I wanted a car I could take to multiple regions and still have a class to run in.”

Neal Agran, NASA Great Lakes Series Leader

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“The camaraderie and close competition both drew me to 944 Spec. Our cars are among the least expensive to build and the most equal due to our dyno-enforced power cap. This leads to big fields with great racing throughout the pack – there is no spending money to go faster. For the person who really wants to work on race craft and maximizing his potential as a driver, I don’t think there’s a better class. In Great Lakes, we focus heavily on driver coaching and share Traqmate data widely. Our goal is to get all new drivers over the rookie learning curve and up into the pack as quickly as possible. “When shopping for a class, I was biased toward 944 Spec because I’d run a 944 Turbo in HPDE for several years. I knew that they are tough cars that are fun to drive and well engineered for the abuse of road racing and enduros. The relatively low cost of a competitive engine build and wide availability of cheap used parts was also attractive.”

Thomas Atteberry, NASA SoCal

ThomasAtteberry

“To us, we are successful if we get all the drivers with qualifying times that are very similar so that in a race, you as a driver will have multiple cars to race with and enjoy the friendly dicing on track. One activity that helps in this objective is each Saturday evening we all pull out our race videos from the day and share them with the class. We all get to learn what worked and what did not work. We also get to laugh at our own mistakes as well, friendship and gentlemanly competition. “The car requires a moderate amount of expense to purchase and or convert into a competitive race car. It takes a moderate amount of money to maintain during a race season. From a performance perspective, the car is well balanced with 50/50 weight distribution. The car is forgiving to driving mistakes made by less experienced drivers. For someone such as myself, at 6 feet, 2 inches, it is comfortable inside. I started racing about eight years ago. Prior to that I had zero track experience. A 944 is a great platform to learn race craft because it is a momentum car. Better driver skills equals better lap times.”

Dan Piña, NASA Great Lakes, National Series Director

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“My whole thing is I wanted the car to be reliable. That’s the first thing. I don’t want to be working on it every single weekend, so I really was scared of an old German car. I really was, but it’s a well-built car. It’s built by Porsche. Everything is very well constructed, but they keep the costs down by sharing parts. For example, the front control arms, it’s a Volkswagen Rabbit control arm, and they’re $30 brand new. Brand new! “The handling characteristics are similar to a Spec Miata, a little less snappy, but way more torque. They’re momentum cars, lots of fun to rotate on the brakes, and you can brake really hard and late in a 944 Spec, way more than you think you can. In fact, that’s usually where the time is found with drivers trying to get to the top level. It’s almost always on the brakes. “Honestly, I believe that the reason we don’t have more drivers is because they haven’t driven one yet. Every single person I’ve ever had drive one wants one.”

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