The Porsche 956 debuted in 1983, and the factory cars dominated the Le Mans 24 Hours, leading to customer orders for dozens of cars.
However, the 956 was not legal to race in the US, as the IMSA GTP rules differed from those of the FIA. The GTP rules called for the driver’s feet to be behind the centerline of the front axle.
Knowing the US market was crucial to their success, Porsche built a new variant of the 956 to comply with the IMSA rules, and called it the 962. They only brought one car to Daytona in 1984, to be driven by Mario and Michael Andretti.
The other contenders for the overall win included Marches, both 83 G’s and 84 G’s, with engines varying from Porsche turbos to American V-8’s.
There were Lola T-600’s, Group 44’s beautiful Jaguar XJR-5’s, and a gaggle of Porsche 935’s, heading for their last roundup, with many teams already ordering 962’s which would be ready for the next race at Sebring.
The Andrettis dominated qualifying, taking the pole by 2 seconds over the March 83g-Porsche driven by a trio of South Africans, and sponsored by Kreepy Krauly pool cleaners.
The other new development at Daytona for 1984 was the addition of the chicane on the back straight, which led to numerous accidents during the race.
There were a total of 82 cars entered, featuring many GT cars. Camaros and Corvettes dominating the GTO class, and Mazda RX-7’s controlling GTU.
The 962 led from the green flag, closely chased by the Kreepy Krauly March and the Group 44 Jags. As the sun set, the 962 began to develop overheating problems in the transmission, leading to an hour in the pits.
Back on the track in 62nd place, Michael Andretti set off after the leaders, but further mechanical issues led to the car being retired before midnight.
Despite this inauspicious debut, the 962 became the most successful Porsche racecar in the company’s history, continuing to be competitive through continuous development for 10 years.
The Kreepy Krauly March won in dominating fashion, driven by Sarel Van der Merwe, Graham Duxbury, and Tony Martin, followed by a 935 driven by Bob Wollek, Derek Bell, and A. J. Foyt, with the Group 44 Jag of Bob Tullius, David Hobbs, and Doc Bundy completing the podium.
The GTO class was won by the Stratagraph Camaro of Gene Felton, Terry Labonte, and Billy Hagan, with the Mazda RX-7 of Jack Baldmin, Ira Young, and Bob Reed winning the GTU class.