Level 5’s 1000+ Horsepower Porsche 996 Turbo “Hurricane” Racecar Is A Lesson In Excess
When you have an infinite budget with a goal of victory, this is the kind of car you build.
"We wanted to win, and that was a better way to win." - Jeff Braun
By now we've all heard about Scott Tucker and Level 5, right? He was a payday loan magnate turned internationally successful racing car team owner and driver, a win-at-all-costs kind of team owner that was known to throw money at problems until they went away. Racing is an expensive sport, without a doubt, but Scott Tucker made it his hobby to turn fork truck-loads of money into champions laurels and trophies. He started out small with GT3 Cup and Ferrari Challenge cars, but swiftly graduated to high-level LMP2 prototypes and mega expensive SCCA national championship winners. The Porsche you see here is one of the latter. In fact, here is a video that is still on the now-defunct team's YouTube channel covering the car's SCCA Runoffs experience in 2011.
For 2009 and 2010 Tucker ran a highly developed Ferrari 360 Challenge car in the T1 class, which he absolutely dominated, winning both years running away. Because of the way the rules were changed, Tucker decided to develop a different car for the 2011 season, which begins the story of this STO-classed Porsche 996 Turbo. From the start, this car was developed by a multi-million dollar racing team for the sole purpose of destroying privateer efforts in their club-racing championship home turf.
This 996 Turbo was one of the earliest non-formula car uses of Multimatic's G-valve shock absorbers (made famous by Chevrolet's Camaro Z-28), more colloquially known as "Spool Valve", which allowed the car to be quite stiff under braking to avoid weight transfer brake dive, yet once the brake pressure was relieved allowed the suspension to be soft and compliant through the corners. This is a very trick setup, especially for the technology available in 2011. The STO category that the car ran in mandated a street-legal tire, and as such the car made use of a Hoosier-built DOT racing slick. Because the car was built specifically to the rule book, which had gaping loopholes, Tucker and Level 5 developed a big turbo engine that made somewhere in the realm of 750 horsepower. The car also has carbon fiber everywhere, a giant roof scoop, and 996 GT3R front end aero. Naturally, the team brought in Porsche factory driving ace Patrick Long to help develop the car. According to Jeff Braun, then race engineer for the team, Long had exclaimed the car the 'most ridiculous Porsche he'd ever driven'.
For the actual race in 2011, Tucker did, in fact, win. Sadly, the margin at the checkered flag after 12 laps was just seven-tenths of a second over the 2nd placed highly modified Dodge Viper of David Pintaric. It goes without saying that this was not enough of a margin for Tucker and he implored the team to build a better mousetrap for the 2012 season. More power, then, was the answer, and the engine was dialed up to over 1000 horsepower. In 2012, Tucker again won the race, this time with a relaxed level of competition. Taking the race easy, Scott actually ran a few seconds slower than he had the previous year, but still managed to win by over 37 seconds, and lapped everyone up to second place. This car, on street-legal tires, ran a lap at Road America of 2:15.0, which is basically equivalent to a full-race-spec 997 GT3 Cup car's times. It's wild.
The car, along with everything else left over from the liquidation of Level 5's assets, is for sale as part of Auctions America's Auburn, Indiana sale next month. If you want to absolutely dominate your PCA club race weekend, you had better get your bidding paddle ready. For more photos and information about the car itself, check out the Auctions America listing. And, if you want to learn more about this car and attempt to comprehend the kind of mindset that went into the development of a four-digit horsepower Porsche 911 Turbo race car, listen to the "Level 5 Special" episode of Dinner With Racers. It's just such a freaking good show, possibly our favorite episode of any podcast ever.