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Pulling the Rabbit out of the hat – 1980 IMSA Portland

The cars come around for the start of the Rose Cup IMSA race in August 1980 at Portland
The cars come around for the start – Fitzpatrick (left) and Moretti (right) lead the pack

By the time the Dick Barbour Racing team arrived in Portland for the Rose Cup IMSA race in August of 1980, we were in good spirits. The week before at the Sears Point IMSA event, the team had finished 1-2 with two 935s driven by John Fitzpatrick and Bobby Rahal. The Portland race was of the 100-mile sprint variety, just as it had been the prior week at Sears Point in California. While we were leading in the championship hunt, it was still close with John Paul, as we had skipped the Lime Rock event and run the Nürburgring 1000KM, and John Paul had won that race at the end of May. We entered two cars, chassis #000 0023 for John Fitzpatrick and #000 0009 driven by Skeeter McKitterick. Both of these were 1980 Kremer K3 cars.

Gianpiero Moretti was sponsored by Penthouse Magazine, so Dominique Maure, Pet of the Year, attended the races
Gianpiero Moretti was sponsored by Penthouse Magazine, so Dominique Maure, the Pet of the Year, usually came to the races. Moretti was just trying to distract the other teams!

Portland was a track just under two miles in length, with one long straight on one side, some Esses and longer curves on the other, connected by two roughly 180-degree corners on each end. A relatively simple track which we were sure John, never having been there before, would learn quickly none the less. We got our first surprise on Friday when we went to Goodyear to pick up some tyres. Goodyear informed us, there were no tyres for us. They wanted to talk to Dick Barbour, the team owner, as there was some dispute over Le Mans tyres. There were questions over whether Goodyear Europe was sponsoring these tyres, or there was an invoice still open for them. Us lowly mechanics did not get involved with this kind of thing at all, and since Bob Garretson (team manager) was not with us this weekend, and Dick was not showing up until later on Saturday, we were kind of in a quandary. Goodyear would not sell us any tyres, nor mount or dismount any that we did have. We had several sets of used Le Mans tyres in the truck (which were two months old), and we always carried our own tyre mounting equipment (for emergencies).

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