Peter Gregg

Full Name:
Peter Holden Gregg
Born:
4th May 1940
New York City, New York
Died:
16th December 1980 (Aged 40)
Jacksonville, Florida, suicide
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Peter Gregg was an American sports car legend who won the IMSA GT Championship on six occasions during the 1970s. The son of a mechanical engineer, he was just six years old when his mother died. Gregg was educated at Harvard University before he joined the United States Navy as an Air Intelligence Officer stationed in Jacksonville.

Early racing career

Although he had previously driven in hillclimbs while still a student, it was during this time and having attended the Scuderia Centro Sud Racing School in Italy that he first raced in 1963. He left the navy in 1965 and bought the local Brumos Porsche dealership. So began one of the most famous teams in American sports car racing. Business flourished and he soon opened additional Mercedes-Benz and Fiat/MG showrooms.

IMSA GT success

Gregg graduated through the SCCA’s amateur ranks, normally driving a Porsche, and was Southeastern Champion in 1967. He won his class in the 1968 Daytona 24 Hours with a Porsche 911T as he turned professional as a racing driver. He shared the winning Porsche 914 in the very first IMSA race to be held in 1971. It was the first of three victories as he and co-driver Hurley Haywood were crowned as inaugural IMSA GT champions.

Also third in that year’s Trans-Am standings with Bud Moore’s Ford Mustang, Gregg’s Porsche Carrera won that title in 1973 and 1974 but it is in IMSA and sports cars that he is best remembered.

The 1973 season began with Gregg and his Brumos Porsche Carrera RSR winning both the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours – the former a round of both IMSA and the World Championship of Makes. He then won the final four rounds of the year to add the IMSA GT title to his Trans-Am triumph. He narrowly beat Milt Minter in the 1974 standings and again won the Daytona 24 Hours at the start of a third successive IMSA title-winning campaign in 1975.

The 1976 Daytona 24 Hours was a rare victory in something other than a Porsche for Gregg was invited to drive a BMW North America 3.0 CSL that season. However, it was Al Holbert who was IMSA Champion that year and the next.

Trans-Am and Le Mans 24 Hours

Gregg concentrated on Trans-Am in 1977 and his Porsche 934 finished as runner-up in the Category II class behind Ludwig Heimrath. He also finished third (and won Group Five) in the 1977 Le Mans 24 Hours with Claude Ballot-Léna and a JMS Racing Team Porsche 935. A fourth Daytona success was added at the start of 1978 and he repeated his Le Mans third place finish that summer on a one-off appearance in a works Martini Porsche 936.

He regained his IMSA title that year and retained it in 1979 so it was little surprise when he was offered another works drive for the 1980 Le Mans 24 Hours, albeit driving a Porsche 924 in the GTP class. But Gregg suffered a road accident on the way to the circuit and doctors declared him unfit to race.

Gregg was a complex and educated fellow – a lover of fine art and conversation. Fame and fortune were not enough however. At the end of a disappointing season during which he had not won a race, Peter Gregg took his own life just nine days after he had married for a second time.

His body was found on the beach near his Florida home with a suicide note in his brief case and revolver by his side. His final written words concluded, "I have done all I want to, that’s it."