Click to return to home.
History Links
Photo Registry
Click to return to home.

1992 Intrepid GTP Chassis 2:

Vehicle History by John Starkey

Even amongst such high-powered thoroughbreds as the last batch of GTP/Group C cars built in the early 1990s, the Intrepid stands out as a mighty Beast. Few race cars have had so much downforce and so much power. Just one look at that imposingly bluff front end tells you that the Intrepid was built for winning.

Intrepid saw the light of day as the dream fulfilment of one Jim Miller. Miller had made his money through heading up a big travel agency and had taken up Trans Am racing. He liked racing so much that he determined to build his own GTP car and so formed up with Gray Pratt to start a shop in Wixom, Michigan, where he campaigned his first GTP car, a 1989 Chevrolet Spice.

Ever the driving force behind building his dream GTP car, Miller commissioned Bob Riley, of Riley and Scott fame, to design a car to win the IMSA GTP Championship. In actual fact, Bob Riley had already sketched out a design for an extremely high downforce GTP car some years before and Pratt & Miller, complete with EDS sponsorship that came along with Tommy Kendall as a driver, soon had a car ready to test. Built with a carbon-fiber chassis, whose side-pods doubled as bodywork side-members, Intrepid was built along conventional lines, but with extremely strong suspension pieces to take the downforce that the car could develop, some five times its own weight of just 1,850 pounds.

Although Miller wound up using a Katech built 6.5 liter Chevrolet V8, with splayed valves, for Intrepid, he had originally wanted to use a Judd F1 V-10. However, the weight breaks in the IMSA rules favored the home-grown product and Intrepid found itself with 800 horsepower which, although a mighty amount by normal standards, was not always enough to overcome the enormous downforce and drag that the car produced. So great was the downforce, Intrepid could achieve over 3.5Gs in cornering.

In February, 1991, the Intrepid was tested for the first time at Firebird Raceway, Arizona and it was immediately apparent to those present that they had a potential winner on their hands. Wayne Taylor had been hired to partner Tommy Kendall and immediately turned in competitive lap times. Although the car was comparatively slow down the straights, due to the induced drag of the bodywork, it more than made up for it through the corners. So great were the braking and cornering forces that Taylor needed his safety straps done up extra tightly!

Intrepid first raced at West Palm Beach in March, 1991 and Taylor impressed immediately and finished second in the race to the even more powerful Jaguar XJR-10 driven by Davy Jones. Impressively, Taylor beat the then-dominant Nissan NPTI-90 into third place, a car that could raise over 1100 horsepower in qualifying. Not only that, but Taylor set the fastest lap of the race. Ironically, his EDS-sponsored partner, Tommy Kendall had set pole position in his Chevrolet-powered Spice, but was beaten into fourth place in the race itself.

Tommy Kendall soon had his own Intrepid and raced it for the first time at Lime Rock. He took full advantage of the new car, putting it onto pole position and breaking the previous lap record by 2.4 seconds. In the race, Tommy lapped all but the leading Nissan until he had an unfortunate “coming together” with his team mate. Although both cars continued, they wound up being fourth and fifth at the end. Next up came Mid-Ohio where the pair finished in second and third, beaten only by the fleet new Jaguar XJR-16.

At a teeming wet New Orleans street circuit, it all came good for Intrepid and Tommy Kendall, at last taking victory, but at the following race at Watkins Glen, things turned very sour. Poor Tommy suffered broken legs when his Intrepid’s right rear hub disintegrated. Kendall was out of action until the beginning of 1992, but was the first to tell people that he probably would have been killed in any other GTP car of the period.

For 1992, Wayne Taylor organized a team around himself and Jeff Purner and Brian Bonner with Tom Milner Racing. Miller carried on with the returning Tommy Kendall and their best result was a second place at Road Atlanta. Intrepid’s speed had been usurped by Dan Gurney’s lightweight Eagle-Toyotas.

By now, four Intrepids had been built and Wayne Taylor drove the Bruce Barkelew-financed car in 1993. Despite the car catching fire at Miami, Wayne still finished in second place. Sadly, that was the best result of the season, a string of DNFs following.

With the emergence of the HSR “Thundersports” series, the Intrepid has established itself once again at the front end of the pack whenever it has appeared. Even today there are few cars its equal on the racetrack and none better.

Excerpt from Car & Driver Interview with Gary Pratt
(Car & Driver Interview >>>)

...Ironically, it may have been Miller who lured Pratt into the most expensive car of their careers. Fourteen years ago, Miller, Pratt, and Riley were sitting in the airport in Columbus, Ohio. Miller asked, “What would it cost to build an IMSA GTP car, the most advanced on the planet?” Pratt and Riley began doodling on an envelope. Miller looked at the figures and said: “Okay, I’ll bankroll this if you guys build it. And while you’re doing that, I’ll go out and find a car company to back us.”

Thus was born the Intrepid, costing five times what Miller originally expected, “as daunting a race car as I’ve ever built,” Pratt says today. “Composite everything, a body with amazing aero tricks, a design that’d been in Bob Riley’s head for 10 years. Then, right at the end, Jim walks in and says, ‘Hey, guess who I got as our sponsor? Chevrolet.’ I thought, Boy, I need to hang on to this guy.”

The Intrepid was full of surprises, not all of them pleasant. At Watkins Glen, the 800-horse prototype ran only 175 mph through the traps—35 mph slower than the Jaguars and Porsches. “Yet our lap times were identical to theirs,” remembers Pratt. “I looked at Bob, Bob looked at me. He said, ‘We must be making twice the downforce we expected."...

Chassis 2

Intrepid Chassis 2 is the car crashed by Tommy Kendall at Watkins Glen. Now undergoing full restoration, the car will feature a new tub built from the original molds with many of the original chassis components (including the chassis plate, of course) with the original Intrepid drive train, bodywork, and ancellaries (brake systems, cooling systems, etc.). The car will also feature modern Motec electronics.

With only four cars in existence, the Intrepid enjoys an extraordinary combination of attributes - exclusivity, extreme performance, reliability, and long-term maintainability.

View partial molds & spares inventory >>>


-- SOLD --

Contact >>>




Copyright ©2002 cyberspeed -- All Rights Reserved