For the Porsche enthusiast interested in club racing or increased street performance, Loren Beggs of 911 Design is a qualified source for all things restoration, race prep, and aftermarket related. As a champion Pirelli Driver's Gold Cup racer and Porsche tuner he is well versed in what is required on-track and for those who'd like to build a race car for the street.
Beggs provided us his time to answer questions on various topics ranging from the most receptive and affordable Porsche for modification to tips and advice any prospective club racer must know. Leave your thoughts or further 911 Design questions below.
What's the best way to pick a tuning shop?
"Even if you plan on doing some of the work yourself there still will come a time when you need the help of an expert. The world is full of shops that come and go. Consider these key factors:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do you really want to get a "bargain" and be the guinea pig?
- If the shop is 20 percent less than everyone else how can they be in business next year?
- Did they cut corners by not having proper insurance for their employees and your car when it is in their care?
- What happens if there is a problem with work on the car?
- Ask for a tour of the facility. If you are uncomfortable walking through the shop because it is unorganized, what is going to happen when your car is there?"
How do you advise someone that wants to build a race car for the street?
"Start with a realistic budget. Then work your way backwards. What do you want: Super lightweight with no creature comforts or something with at least A/C so you don't fry driving to the track? The biggest mistake is not having a "game plan" at project start. For example, I see people spend money three different times for the same component starting with a spare set of stock wheels then they get a set of 18" wheels and then they build a set of three-piece wheels that max out the tire size for the car. Start with a game plan."
The biggest mistake is not having a 'game plan' at project start.
Where shouldn't you skimp on a street/track car?
"Safety is first. Make sure you purchase the best seat, roll bar/cage, competition belts, driving suit and helmet. If you can't afford these items all at once buy them one at a time but don't take the car out until you have all of them. No one wants to get hurt doing this. Don't save money installing the safety equipment if you don't have the correct tools or know how. I have seen people driving street/track cars with the competition shoulder belts connected to a piece of 1" flat bar screwed to the roll bar. The basics for any car will be a high- quality brake fluid changed every six months at a minimum, a set of quality track brake pads, and if you live in a warm area, some additional engine cooling may be necessary."
What Porsche model is most receptive to budget tuning and what mods do you suggest?
"The biggest bang for the buck is a 2001-2005 996 Twin Turbo. It was over $110000 when released and you can now find a nice example for $40000 or under. The air conditioning works awesome. They are very quiet inside and the 6-speed transmission shifts like a hot knife through butter. They have front and side air bags, brakes that make your eyes feel like they are going to pop out of your head when applied to full ABS and probably one of the most robust engines and transmissions ever built. Not to mention the upgrades are unlimited.
For an additional $1000-$2000 you can have the ECU reflashed and it makes over 500hp. That is a 500hp car with full leather and the best engineering in the world for $40000. How can you go wrong with that? I had a 2001 996 TT that I put 65000 miles on driving it every day. It never let me down."
The biggest bang for the buck is a 2001-2005 996 Twin Turbo. It was over $110000 when it was new and you can find a nice car for $40000
You can drive it with your cup of coffee in the morning or scare the heck out of your friends and put it [997.2 GT3 RS] in launch mode for a blast to 60mph in 2.7sec.
How about when budget isn't an issue?
"How can you go wrong with a 997.2 Twin Turbo S with a PDK transmission or a 997.2 GT3 RS? Both have 3.8L engines for gobs of torque and can have the tar beaten out of them without fail. The GT3 RS is the perfect track day/weekend cruiser and the Turbo can be an everyday commuter that runs the quarter-mile in 10.9sec while getting over 20mpg. You can drive it with your cup of coffee in the morning or scare the heck out of your friends and put it in launch mode for a blast to 60mph in 2.7sec."
What should you consider when picking a race class?
"Consider the rules for the group you are going to run with. Go to a few events and see what class looks fun and is populated with entrants. It's no fun if you win a class without real competition. Talk to your friends or people within each class for insight. Remember these things:
- Read class rules first.
- Know how much the modifications will cost in that class. You don't want to pick a class you cannot be competive in.
- What are the tire requirements? They can be the biggest single ongoing expense on a car.
- Make sure you can eventually make all of the modifications to the car that your competitors have."
Best advice for a new amateur Porsche racer?
"Patience and a good instructor. Driving is a difficult skill to master. That's what makes it fun. Things that are easy to master become boring quickly. Even to this day I learn new things about racing. Also pick a class you can afford to race in. There is nothing more depressing than trying to compete in a class that is a nuclear arms race and you don't have the budget of the United States Military. "
Explain winning the Pirelli Driver's Gold Cup for the 2006-2009 997s class.
"I have a 2006 997 GT3 Cup car. They are factory-produced race cars you can purchase new from Porsche Motorsports. The nice thing about them is they sell like a commodity. The Pirelli Drivers Cup cars are all stock with Porsche Motorsports sealed engines. The only non-safety modification allowed is adjustable shock absorbers. So the racing is all based on car setup and driver talent. For winning, I was invited to Weissach Germany for the Porsche Night of Champions banquet as is every Porsche driver who wins a race championship anywhere in the world. One of the highlights of the included factory tour was the leather shop. All the seats, dashes and door panels are sewn on site. The array of colors of both the thread and leather was amazing. To insure the most uniform use of the leather each hide is scanned and each defect is marked digitally before the computer determines the best pattern to cut the leather to avoid any defects. Each interior is then finished for the particular car and sent to the assembly line for installation."
What is your favorite racetrack?
"I have two favorite tracks. First is Road America. It is a classic track with high-speed straights and awesome corners. The "Carousel" ends up leading to the Kink" and when you get those two right it is very rewarding. If you get it wrong in the "Kink" it is an absolute disaster. The second is the newly built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The facility is world class. The town of Austin is a great place to visit. It is fast, challenging and it is the smoothest surface I have ever driven on. It is amazing to drive on a track where you don't have to remember where the bumps are."