Perhaps the greatest moment in Porsche lore is when Mark Donohue set a world closed-course record for the fastest average lap speed in history. All that time ago, Donohue managed to run an incredible 221.12 miles per hour in a modified Porsche 917/30, a record that would stand until 1987. Porsche has a retired mega sports car with serious power onboard that is running outside of its original rulebook specs in the 919 Evo. They really need to go back to Talladega.
It was the summer of 1975, and the Penske-Porsche 917/30 had been retired from competition for two seasons already. The team made some serious modifications to the car, including a way bigger pair of intercoolers, and cranked the boost up to provide over 1500 horsepower. On the straights the needle on the speedo would touch 250, and as rain started spattering against Mark’s helmet on that record run, he knew there wouldn’t be another chance. Ten days later he died during a practice session in a Formula One car.
Unlike at the Nürburgring, Porsche doesn’t own this record anymore. In 1987 it was claimed by A.J. Foyt driving the Oldsmobile Aerotech with a 1000-horsepower turbocharged Quad4 engine. Admittedly, Foyt was driving on a large 8-mile circuit with gradual corners rather than the 2.66-mile oval in Alabama. That 1987 record still stands in the FIA’s books with a nigh unbeatable 257.123 mph run. Porsche’s history with the southern NASCAR circuit means they need to go back there to recapture their once held record.
The 919 Evo might be the perfect car for the job. It’s got well over 1000 horsepower, and it’s been built from the outset for aerodynamic efficiency. For certain, the car would need to lose quite a lot of its downforce to make the record an even remote possibility. Even with all of that downforce, however, Neel Jani managed to set a trap speed on the Kemmel Straight during his Spa record run of 223.1 mph. If any race car could beat a record from the 1980s that was previously thought impossible to beat, it’d be the 919 Evo.