Saturday, September 5, 2015

RETRO: A Forgotten GT Champion...




The late Al Hulbert's IMSA GT championship winning DeKon Monza at Road Atlanta, circa 1976. (Image source: scharch.org)
Could a "lowly" Chevrolet Monza defeat the mighty Porsche 930/934/935 turbo Panzerwagon's for the IMSA GT Championship crown?

As the proverbial Hour-glass has been continuously turned over, cannot really recall exactly when I sat 'N listened to the soothing tones 'O Bob Varsha calling the action on that long defunct  Cable TV channel devoted to motor racing simply called SPEED! At what was then the Monterey Historics 'Wayback in 2006-07 Me Thinks; YIKES!

Coming full circle was the news, albiet a year later via Zed Internetz that Kenny Epsman and his bright red '76 DeKon Monza were still going strong. Having taken the win for Group 5A's 1973-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT, GTU Cars category. Winning last year's Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion's outing from Pole ahead of John Hildebrand in his 1978 Chevrolet Camaro. with Bruce Canapé finishing third aboard his 1979 Porsche 935.


As apparently I've not scribbled 'bout the Monterey Historics' in earnest since the '08 Recession; CRIKEYS!


As the SoCal' racer's been known to Mwah for over two decades now, having seen him piloting his NASTY ex-Sam Posey #77 AAR T/A Cuda' and ex-Mark Donohue AMC Javelin in Good 'Ol 'Warshington, Oregon and California, i.e.; Pacific Raceways, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca Raceway and Sears Point Raceway.

Thus I'm not surprised that Messer Epsman - who likes to carve out his own niche in Vintage Racing went the less established route, nee Porsche 935, etc and sagely obtained one of the 'Uber Rare DeKon Monza's instead.

So what does DeKon stand for and who created it? As in the finest tradition of such legendous' company names as Cosworth and later Ilmor, DeKon stood for Design and Construction and was a clever combination of its two founders Lee Dykstra and Horst Kwech.

As I know the name Lee Dykstra from thee Championship Auto Racing Teams era, as a longtime Race Engineer, as I'm recalling he was Robby Gourdouns' (Gordon) engineer amongst many others... Having recently worked with the likes of thee "Mayor 'O Hinchtown," (James Hinchcliffe) 'Rafa (Rafael Matos) and the reborn 'GRAMINATOR, nee Graham Rahal to name a few.

Having seemingly worked for everybody in the IndyCar and Indy Lights Paddock over the years, the last I could find upon him was his joining Juncos Racing in 2013, yet the Juncos current Team Member webpage doesn't sport his name.

Horst Kwech is somewhat known to Mwah solely to his past Shelby American Trans Am association, as the Austrian born Australian racer is the only driver to have won races in both the over and under 2.0-liter Trans Am categories, along with two Under 2.0-liter titles for Alfa Romeo.

Reputedly, only a handful of the overly potent DeKon Monza racecars were built, estimates ranging between eleven and fourteen cars, as reputedly DeKon Engineering Ltd built 17-cars - yet not all were Monza's, which would later see them Pop-up "Down Under" en route to a few more Australian championship titles, most notably under the guidance of Alan Moffat, whilst perennial V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup also drove one variant.


Obviously the most famous DeKon Monza's were driven by Al Holbert en route to the 1976-77 IMSA GT Championships, while Horst Kwech briefly drove one, along with another prolific racing name, simply known as B-I-G' AL, aka four time Indy 500 winner Al Unser!

As the 2,400lb tube frame racers, aided by General Motors first utilization of Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) featured exceptional performance due to its 50/50 weight balance and 6.0-liter normally aspirated small block fuel injected V-8 lumps producing 600bhp!

Mr. Epsman seems to have a keen knack for Provenance regarding his Vintage Racecar's. As according to the website page below, his No. 1012 DeKon Monza chassis was driven NO less by the "Flying Hawaiian,"  aka Danny Ongais!


While it's a ways Away', Y'all can watch the 1hr recap upon Fox Sports One this coming October. As ALWAYS! Check your local listings...

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