The name is seen in almost any picture of GTP sports car racing in America; Andial. Every Porsche carries the logo, and in the past ten seasons of Camel GT competitions Andial-built engines have powered all of Porsche’s 59 victories (including the March-Porsche successes of 1983-84). The company had become an unofficial extension of Porsche’s Weissach research and development centre and cementing the relationship, director Alwin Springer is now Porsche’s general manager of sports car racing for North America, succeeding his late friend and mentor Al Holbert.
Right now Porsche’s competitions policy is at a crossroads, both in Europe and in America, and Springer will spend most of December in Germany, trying to formulate a new policy. lndycar racing has been abandoned before its time and the factory’s priority is clearly stated: to develop the 3½-litre Formula 1 engine for the Footwork Porsche team. That, however, leaves thousands of people with an uncertain future, not only team owners and drivers but mechanics, suppliers; people in Europe, America and Japan whose livelihoods depend on Porsche’s industry of sports car racing.
Springer has his priorities sorted out in his mind. First he will concentrate on next year’s IMSA GTP championship with three teams, those of Rob Dyson, Reinhold Joest and Jochen Dauer, believing that at last, the rules will encourage further Porsche victories.
If success proves elusive he might step up the production car circuit activities, in close cooperation with PCNA’s sales and marketing division, noting that IMSA has just announced a production sports car racing championship which includes the full Porsche range in its list of eligible cars.
Along with many others, though, Springer is enormously disappointed by Porsche’s decision to put the current V8 Indy engine into the Zuffenhausen museum. “It had so much potential,” he declares. While in Stuttgart before Christmas he will use all his power of persuasion to reclaim the V8 for a new sports car, which could be designed and built in America.
This was, after all, Porsche’s own plan, to replace the 962 with an Indy-powered Group C/IMSA machine. The project would in all probability have gone ahead had Professor Helmuth Bott not retired a little ahead of schedule, in the wake of Peter Schutz’s departure.
Three German-born men formed the Andial concern, which is far more than a Californian racing shop. Alwin Springer, Dieter lnzenhofer and Arnold Wagner all worked for Vasek Polak’s Porsche + Audi dealership in Hermosa Beach, Springer looking after his 917/10 CanAm car, Wagner in the parts department and lnzenhofer in the service department.
As Polak went through a bad time in 1974, disbanding his team, the three musketeers left the dealership and formed Andial a little way south, in Santa Ana. The name is formed by the initial two letters of their Christian names, Arnold, Dieter and Alwin, but was changed from Ardial to Andial in the planning stage simply because the ‘n’ gave it a better sound.
The partnership has been very successful indeed, but the three don’t wear their wealth as Californians do. True to their German roots, the profits have been ploughed back into the business which is large, superbly equipped, and has a wide range of clients.
The workshop, Inzenhofer’s department, has 2100 customers; most of the cars are from the greater Los Angeles region, but engines are shipped in on a regular basis from other parts of America, Europe and Japan, just for service and special tuning.
Wagner built up a mail order catalogue business which has never stopped growing, and Springer concentrates on the racing division which, he admits frankly, isn’t Andial’s big money earner at the moment. It happens, though, to have increased the company’s reputation outside of California, which is all the partners expect of it.
Contrary to what many people suppose, Springer has never been employed by Porsche although he did spend six months working in the customer race department at Zuffenhausen in 1971, seconded by Polak. He’d left home in Essen in 1965, at the age of 22, to see the world a bit, and settled in Toronto. After two years he returned to Germany to complete his Masters Degree in Engineering then recrossed the Atlantic, further south (“I hated the cold winters in Canada”). Springer went to Daytona in 1969, met Porsche entrant Polak and quickly accepted the offer of a job within the team.
Six months at the heart of Porsche’s business, within sight of Dr Porsche’s office, enabled Springer to build up a circle of friends and contacts that has served him ever since. “I always kept in touch with all these people. We were all little guys together, and we grew up together in the business sense. I can always call up and ask for help, in an informal way, that’s how things work in racing.” Sometimes the calls originate in Weissach, for Springer has often been ahead of the factory in some areas of development.
In 1972-73 Springer was competing directly against Porsche’s ‘works’ 917 entered by Roger Penske for Mark Donohue. In 1973 Jody Scheckter handled Polak’s Porsche and gave Donohue a good contest, even though the 917/30 was technically streets ahead, and it was that particular period which gave Springer the complete respect of the Porsche factory. It can’t be without benefit to Springer that Helmuth Flegl, then in charge of the CanAm programme, is now head of competitions and research at Weissach.
No doubt it wasn’t easy setting up Andial in 1975, but all the groundwork had been done well. Springer concentrated on race preparation from the outset, and the arrival of the 935 in some numbers in 1977 was just the springboard he needed. Having built up a good client list, though, the Kremer brothers arrived on the American scene with the 935 K3 ‘special’, which virtually cleaned up in the latter part of 1979, and the first half of 1980.
Andial had to take the plunge and build an even better 935, and midway through the 1980 season the tables turned on the invaders. Rolf Stommelen and Harald Grohs were signed up to drive the Andial Porsche and scored a lot of successes which enabled Springer to get all his customers back, and more. Preston Henn became a valued customer, and it was his Andial-built 935 that won the Daytona 24 hours in 1983, handled by Bob Wollek, Claude Ballot-Lena, Henn and (controversially) AJ Foyt.
The most successful relationship, longterm, was with Al Holbert. “In 1982 it was clear that the 935 was on the way out. Moretti was the first to approach us and we put a Porsche engine into a March chassis for him. Everyone said it couldn’t be done, but it was OK… nothing special, but it worked. Then Holbert and I got our heads together, and on his behalf I went over to March in England and we made the March-Porsche. It wasn’t the best looking car but it did the job, and Al won the IMSA championship in ’83.
“Then in 1984 Porsche brought the 962 over to Daytona. That programme at the beginning showed why we need good communications with the factory. We said all along that for our circuits we need good torque, more than power and top speed. They interpreted that their way and brought the 962 over, and frankly I wasn’t impressed by it, not at all. But it was the only car we could buy from Porsche.
“We got it over and started work. Andial did the engine, taking it out to 3.2 litres and working on the Motronic (Andial, a Bosch distributor, is the only independent concern able to develop the Motronic system) and Holbert did the bodywork, concentrating on downforce. We worked together really well, and the results speak for themselves.” In 1985 and 1986 Holbert anti Derek Bell fairly dominated the IMSA Camel GTP series, and although by this time Holbert had been appointed Porsche’s Competition Director for North America he managed to keep all his rivals happy most of the time.
“At first he met some resistance because he was also a competitor,” Springer admits. “He overcame it by his absolute honesty and fair dealings, and I work by the same code.” Any useful engine developments were passed on to other teams within a race or two, always at a fair price, and no challenger has ever emerged in the Porsche field.
There could have been a new Porsche GTP developed in America, by Holbert and Andial, had the popular American not been ‘killed so tragically when his light aircraft crashed in September 1988. “We knew, in 1987, that the 962 was getting a bit old fashioned. We needed a new package, and there would have been one for ’89. Holbert had a new car, an open version of the 962, in the wind tunnel at March. Al and Derek (Bell) would have driven it.”
By this time the Electromotive Nissan team had effectively taken over the Camel GTP championship, and Porsche was almost off the map. “We were in recession, no doubt about it. I lost Holbert, I lost Dyson and Leven because they cut back, but fortunately Dyson realised that Indy held nothing for him and he came back this year. IMSA’s been pegging Porsche for a decade, and next year they’re going to make life a little easier for us.”
It is Springer’s personal opinion (as he stresses) that IMSA’s future will continue to be with turbos and production based sports cars. “Nobody will be able to afford these 3½-litre racing engines. You ask any engineer, the cost of a turbo is a drop in the bucket against these race engines. I don’t think IMSA will make the same mistake as FISA is making.
“IMSA definitely know what they’re doing. The record shows that. They’re good at making rules which are fair to everyone. If there’s a demand for Cosworths and Judds there’ll be room for them. The class is there already, the door’s open. If they get too competitive they’ll peg them back. That’s how it is over here. Teams will weigh up the cost against the competitiveness and draw their own conclusions.”
Springer is sure that the 962 engine will continue to be competitive, “Even though with the boxer configuration you can’t get the venturi tunnels you want.
“With Porsches, its the chassis that we need, grip and downforce, though we’d be befter off now with the V8 Indy engine. I’d Ieave it at 2.65 litres, just change the cams and inlets, modify it a little bit to run on gasoline, and so on. It’s not such a big job. It runs to 13,000 rpm but we don’t need that sports car racing. With our restrictors it’d run to 9500, say, and would live forever. We’d need a new chassis, from March or Fabcar perhaps, but if the engine deal was right the money would be there for the rest.”
The loss of the Indycar programme was at blow to Springer, not only because of his commitment to the team. “It was planned that there would be customer cars in 1991, and that we’d do the V8 engine here, totally support the effort. Derrick Walker was going to look after the works car with one good driver, while Andial looked after the customers. We were going to have two dedicated engineers, we were going to build and develop the engines here, as in the IMSA series. Then it got killed. It was political.”
Springer didn’t sound too bitter as he said the words. “It’s water down the river now. I look forward, no other way. I believe we can win GTP races in 1991, and we’ll do our best as always. If things don’t work out we’ll go back to grassroots, production cars. What Porsche is doing in Germany, the Formula 1 engine, is nothing for us over here.”
“PCNA is committed to motor racing. I have just spent two days in Reno and I asked that question. It is very clear to me that we, in America, will stay in racing. That means we will have to be a little bit more diversified than they are in Germany right now.
“I want to stress that whatever we do in the future, it will be with the help of Weissach. Maybe the engineers won’t come from the racing department any more, but will be concerned with the development of street cars. That is a possibility, and I’d be very happy. An engineer is an engineer, and I’ve found that the product guys are as eager and willing to help as any others.”
Short term, Alwin Springer is banking on the success of the 962 in IMSA next year. He’d be a happy man if Porsche’s management let him take the Indy V8 engine back to America for a sports car programme, but there are other irons in the fire. “A win is a win, whether it’s GP or production cars. GTP is more glamorous, and people expect Porsche to be there, but the future might be on the production line.”