Al Holbert, Sports Cars, Class of 1993
Sports car racing's record book has a sizeable entry under the name of Al Holbert. Within its pages are listed the quiet Pennsylvanian's unequalled five Camel GT championships and how he remains the IMSA series' all-time leading driver with 49 race victories scored in a variety of Porsches, Monzas, and Marches. It also shows that he emerged triumphant from sports car racing's crown-jewel event, the 24 hours of LeMans, on three occasions, and that his 10 Can-Am wins rank him third on that category's all-time success list behind Denis Hulme and Patrick Tambay.
Elsewhere in racing's array of accomplishment, his name can be found among those who achieved victory in the SCCA's Trans-Am, and that he competed in NASCAR stock cars, and Indy Cars as well, finishing fourth in his one and only start in the Indianapolis 500. The record book, however, tells only part of the story.
Beyond his exceptional accomplishments as a driver, Al Holbert's abilities included being a gifted team manager and a consummate racing strategist. However, just as he was in the midst of one of the stiffest challenges of his career -- the administration of Porsche's North American motorsports programs, including its ultimately short-lived Indy Car effort -- his life was tragically cut short in the crash of his light plane near Columbus, Ohio, on September 30, 1988. Apart from racing, Holbert was a devoted family man to wife Joy, son Todd, and daughter Laura.
He was exposed to racing at an early age by his father, Bob, one of the top drivers during professional sports car racing's formative era, and virtually grew up in the sport. While studying at Lehigh University for his degree in Mechanical Engineering, he took a job with Penske Racing, and the friendship he developed with Mark Donohue during that time proved to be both an inspiration and the foundation for his own success.