Yet another highlight can now be confirmed for next week’s bucket list worthy Monterey Car Week. We’ve just learned that a recently restored 1988 Audi 200 TRANS-AM racer will be present in Monterey and will even take to the track at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Interestingly, this appears to be neither a move by Audi Tradition nor Audi itself. While Audi does plan a markedly stepped up presence in Monterey including the reveal of the PB 18 e-tron supercar concept, the presence of the 200 TRANS-AM can be attributed none other than McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
In addition to his work at McLaren and McLaren F1 (including decision-making on Fernando Alonso being made available for the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans), Brown is also co-owner of the United Autosports racing team alongside partner Richard Dean.
In the earlier days of United Autosports, this included Brown and Dean sharing driving duties in an Audi R8 LMS during the first few seasons of that car’s racing history. It appears the duo will return to sharing an Audi on the track with this 200 TRANS-AM.
The particular 200 TRANS-AM is also highly significant. It is the former Hurley Haywood chassis, meaning it helped Haywood nab the series championship. United Autosports acquired the car from the Imperial Palace Car Museum in 2016 and has since fully restored it. Now, the 200 will return to America and even take to the track as an obvious highlight for Audi enthusiasts in an event-filled Monterey Car Week.
Read the full United Autosports press release below.
Audi’s 1988 Trans-Am Series winning 200 quattro will take to the track again in earnest after a full and complete restoration by United Autosports. Zak Brown, the Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing, and fellow United Autosports co-owner Richard Dean, share the Audi at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion and Reunion events this month. The annual gathering features over 500 historic and period-correct race cars from nearly every era competing on the 2.24-mile Laguna Seca track and so it’s truly fitting that the Audi should return to race-action Stateside.
The Leeds-based Anglo-American team is well known around the race tracks of the world. Launched at West London Audi in April 2010, United went on to race the R8 GT3 for numerous years. Having turned its attention to sportscar racing in recent years, former Audi Sport “factory” DTM and sportscar driver Filipe Albuquerque races for them in the European Le Mans Series and at Le Mans nowadays. But a side of the United operation that is not widely known is its ground up restorations that are catered for in-house at its Garforth workshops. United Autosports have proven themselves to be dedicated to sustaining and improving the world of motorsport and vintage cars by carrying out successful restorations on a variety of machinery.
Equipped with some of the best mechanics and facilities in the business, they have complete ground up restorations on some of the world’s most famous and iconic race cars including the 1980 Formula One World Championship winning Williams FW07 of Alan Jones and a 1986 Porsche 962.
Brown states: “My main criteria when I buy racecars is its history in terms of its success on-track and the Audi continues that trend.” This actual Audi 200 quattro is the chassis that Hurley Haywood swept to championship success, both driver and manufacturer titles, the American scoring 10 top-six finishes including six podiums. Based on the road-going Audi 200 quattro, the racecar delivered 510 bhp from the production 2.1-litre, 5-cylinder KKK turbocharged engine featuring six-speed manual gearbox. Back in the day, the Audi was up against naturally aspirated V8 600 plus bhp American “metal” and Hurley, together with Hans-Joachim Stuck plus at times Walter Röhrl, caused a sensation with less horsepower but massively better traction courtesy of its four-wheel-drive. By the end of the season Audi had won eight of the 13 races prompting organisers to ban all-wheel-drive cars from the series the following year! Zak adds: “The Audi re-wrote the history books in Trans-Am in the late-80s. The quattro drivetrain was so good it was banned! The guys at Audi in Germany confirmed the history of this chassis so I bought it. They were subsequently very helpful to our team in Leeds renovating it over the past year or so.”
United purchased the Audi in March 2016 from a museum in Las Vegas with Paul “Flower” Haigh, a veteran of over 50 years in motorsport, overseeing the rebuild which began later that year. He recalls: “The car has been completely rebuilt, including every single nut and bolt. It went back to bare metal for the re-spray. The engine was sent to the original engine builder, Franz Lehman in Lichtenstein, for a complete rebuild, while the transmission also had a full rebuild. The car is now in as new condition as it was back in ’88. It was a big project and probably lasting a year in total but an absolute pleasure to work on. It’s still a fantastic car, despite its age, and the ‘old girl’ must have been way ahead of her time, just fantastic engineering.”
The Audi had a brief shakedown at Teeside Autodrome in June – “she ran like a dream, sounded great and went like the wind!” confirmed Paul – before it was sea freighted out to California. Haigh was also complimentary about his contacts with Audi Sport and Audi Tradition. “I’d worked with the Audi people in Germany when we raced the R8 in 2010 until we stopped in 2016 and the ‘customer’ support we received then was second to none so it wasn’t a big surprise for me to experience the same kind of assistance when we started to renovate the Audi.”
The Audi, which never actually raced at Laguna in 1988 is grouped together with a wide range of machinery for its Monterey races, including Porsches (935 and 962), Chevrolets, Nissans, Mazdas, Pontiacs and Toyotas. Zak adds: “The power is awesome and the look of it is brutal. I love it and it will be a privilege to give it’s race début back in the US at Laguna after United brought the Audi back to life.”