Porsche 911 hero: Jeff Zwart
Porsche’s undisputed ‘King of the Hill’ has showed the 911’s competitive prowess isn’t limited to circuits.
When it comes to hillclimbs, no venue is more iconic than Colorado’s Pikes Peak. The Race To The Clouds is to hillclimbing what Le Mans is to endurance racing, and once again the 911 has been well represented over the decades, thanks largely to Mr Jeff Zwart. Zwart’s affinity with the famous Colorado hillclimb began in the early 1980s, when Road & Track magazine sent him to photograph the event. “I was already attracted to rallying and when I got there, I just thought this was the ultimate rally. Especially bearing in mind at this point the mountain was completely dirt. It was hugely influential on me both as a motorsport event and visually the altitude, drop-offs and cliffs really ticked a lot of boxes as a photographer too,” he told Porsche Newsroom last year.
Zwart though wasn’t just a keen spectator in rallying, he was also a bona fide competitor. His notable success in national rally championships at the wheel of the first AWD 911 in the 964 C4 in the late 1980s gave him his break with Porsche in an official capacity. Teaming up with Andial and Porsche Motorsport, Zwart won the 1994 Pikes Peak Open Class in a modified (and turbocharged) 964 C4. And so began a long and rich tradition of Zwart entering a variety of 911s in various classes over the years at Pikes Peak, as gravel sections of the 12.42-mile course slowly began to be replaced in favour of tarmac.
By 2010, Zwart abandoned his previous rally-oriented 911 ventures at Pikes Peak in favour of dedicated circuit cars, beating the class record by 38 seconds in a GT3 Cup car, then returning a year later to pedal a 997 GT2 RS press car, having first driven it some 1,600 kilometres from his California home. His most recent endeavour came last year in a 935 tribute, though he was pipped to success in the Time Attack 1 Class by a 991 GT2 RS Clubsport.
Zwart has won Pikes Peak an incredible eight times, and has competed at the event 18 times – 12 of which have been in various 911s, putting Porsche’s prized sports car at the heart of yet another internationally renowned motorsport discipline. And when he’s not racing up Pikes Peak, Zwart dedicates most of his time to his Porsche passion, both for work in directing Porsche commercials for the North American market, as well as vocationally, where he’s involved with Patrick Long as part of the Luftgekühlt team. In addition, Zwart is also a regular contributor of Panorama, the Porsche Club of America’s official magazine, while to T911 he is a true hero of Porsche.