Boxster, Build Project
By Noel Simpson
How it all started
Last year a friend of mine, Scott Bradley, told me how he had just started racing Porsche Boxsters in the Porsche Series and he suggested I should have a go myself. Having done Targa Rally on and off for 15 years, I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy the whole concept of circuit racing. I really enjoyed Targa, the idea of being let loose on public roads with essentially no speed limit or rules is simply a privilege. The flip side is that it’s a complete logistical exercise to do it properly and you need to be driving very frequently and you’re “dialled in” to ensure that your responses are ready for the inevitable unexpected corner (or flying turkeys, yes it did happen...).
At the time I dismissed the idea of circuit racing, especially in a Boxster, I’m not a hairdresser after all! However, when I started to reflect on the idea and also recalled some memories of driving a Boxster for a couple of days in Lapland on a frozen lake (constantly sideways), the concept continued to simmer away in the back of my mind. When I later heard that there was a fully prepared Boxster race car for sale, I was tempted but still hesitant. Being the super conservative person that I am, but also the guy who enjoys taking controlled risks and at times be super competitive (apparently), I decided to ask if I could rent that car for a single Porsche race, expecting a big fat ‘no thanks’. I guess you never know, right? Lucky me, the boys from LM Automotive who own the car and built it alongside another four Boxsters over the 2020 winter season said ‘yes’. Gulp, what did I just get myself into?
Fast forward three weeks, here I am at Hampton Downs racecourse for the practice day, just prior to race day. I’ve never driven the Hamptons Downs International Circuit, never driven this Boxster race car, and having only got my circuit licence five days earlier, what could go wrong? Actually, not much. First session or two I was two seconds off the leaders, within two sessions, I’m half to one second off the leaders’ pace. Wow, maybe I am a pro after all, watch out Scott! First race finished mid pack. Pretty happy about that. Getting too confident? No way. Second race, somehow, I got into second, somehow overtook the series leader Tony, wow I am in first position, I’m a gun after all. Hold your breath, five corners later, hello kitty litter. Lesson learned, lots of confidence doesn’t make up for experience, but hey, I was having “Lots” of fun, so isn’t that what it’s about?
What next? I just had to do another round, and another, and before you know it the season was at an end. I even finished a couple of races in first place, in the wet, who would have guessed I’m a good wet weather driver? Apparently so. The season is now over and I’m reflecting upon the Race Series. Great bunch of guys, without being a snob, a great brand of car and most of all I had alot of fun. What to do next year? Continue? Decisions, decisions. After just turning 50, I thought stuff it, let’s do it. But what next? I loved the red car that LM Automotive rented me, but there were some small details I would have done differently, so I made the call and said yes, but I’m going to build myself a new car. Okay, Trade me here I come.
After doing a bit of research (actually, alot) with some help from LM Automotive I picked and purchased my preferred donor car and defined the build spec’. After speaking with Peter Stewart who produces the Porsche SPIEL magazine we decided to document the Boxster race car build. So here goes…
Update #1: Buying the car
After a fair bit of research, I narrowed the options down to just one car. A NZ new Boxster 2001, 2.7 litre. The class allows you to choose between the slightly older 2.5 and the slightly newer 2.7. The 2.5 has advantages of a slightly lower minimum weight for the Series and also has a lower drivetrain final drive which allows for a quicker initial exit from corners, as opposed to the 2.7 which can then claw that back on the straights, overall they are very even. In this case it was a 2.7 and the general advice is to always start with the best car you can find, as that will always pay dividends later.
After a bit of negotiation with the owner, done, purchased. Only one problem, I’m in Auckland and the car is in Queenstown. Yes, I could just pay for an expensive transporter to bring it up to Auckland, but I had a better idea… last year my parents (dad is 77 now) offered to drive a car back from Queenstown to Auckland after our kids alpine ski racing season had finished. Almost to my surprise, they loved the road trip, my father and my mother had a ball. However, would they say yes again?
Luckily, they did, so as I write this article they are on a Boxster road trip from Queenstown to Auckland, including the top down during winter. Living the dream? In the meantime, I’ve been looking at the build project and the critical path. In reality, it is not that hard at all, because the boys at LM Automotive can pretty much do the entire build from beginning to end. However, I’ve got a couple of things I want bespoke, so I’m working on that detail myself, the big one being the roll cage.
My last car, an E36 M3 for Targa Rally had a UK sourced FIA homologated roll cage from Custom Cages, made from T45 (aircraft steel). The Custom Cage T45 kit is super strong and super light, however more expensive than NZ built roll cages. It’s a kitset cage, pre-cut and pre-bent, but still needs to be welded into the car in NZ. But who? After a bit of research, I selected Neil Allport to do the install. They weren’t the cheapest, but they have a great reputation and after all the cage will only be as strong as the quality of the welding. Next, I need to sort out the correct race seat, clutch, and suspension, but more on that in my next update.