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Jack McAfee
An Early Builder of the Porsche Legend

by Michael T. Lynch
Page 3

In 1957 Jack had to watch the tailpipe of Ken Miles in John von Neumann's 550 in the under-1500 cc class, but the deter-mined McAfee stormed back in 1958 with a pace even Miles couldn't match. Jack posted an amazing 14 1500cc victories and three overall main event wins in Sugarman's Vasek Polak-tuned Porsche 550A to own the 1958 Pacific Coast Championship. McAfee was eighth at Sebring in 1959, paired with old rival Miles, and also won at Hourglass and San Luis Obispo that year. 1960 saw an abbreviated schedule because Jack opened a new, larger dealership in Burbank, but he still man-aged several class wins as well as overall victories at Del Mar and Pomona. In 1961 McAfee concentrated on Formula Junior, showing a new generation his style by winning the Pacific Coast Championship in a Lotus, never finishing lower than second. Jack's wind-down year was 1962, and he quit driving after retiring in Vasek Polak's Porsche RSK at Pomona in August. After a 13-year road racing career, Jack still had what it took to win in California's super-competitive environment as he had won a final class victory in the RSK at Riverside in March.

Jack sold his dealership in 1974 and retired, but the phone didn't stop ringing. Vasek Polak was providing a parts truck to service Porsche's IMSA customers and when driver Joe Landaker retired, Jack took over Joe's chores. This allowed McAfee to renew old acquaintances from his racing days and pass along his encyclopedic knowledge of car set-up and courses to a new generation of Porsche pushers like John Fitzpatrick. He had many great cross-country adventures, including a 1980 trip towing Dick Barbour's 935 K3 Le Mans entry for Bobby Rahal from California to New York, putting it on a ship and then driving the rig from Le Harve to Le Mans. Once again, Jack was at the center of Porsche's success.

After a decade of Kerouac-ian trips crisscrossing America, Jack retired for good in Seal Beach, where he enjoys low-stakes poker and reminiscing with old friends about the times when he was one of the hottest Porsche pilots in the world. In the ego-driven domain of racing, no one has ever had a bad word to say about Jack. Porsche honors him this weekend by having him drive one of their earliest cars in exhibition.


Friendly Opposition Jack McAfee'S biggest challenge in the 1950s often came from Ecune von Neumann. John von Neumann was the Porsche distributor for Southern California, Arizona and Hawaii and employed Phil Hill, Ken Miles and Richie Ginther to drive his cars. This line-up in late 1956 or early 1957 includes a 550, a "Pooper" (Cooper-Porsche fabricated by Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes, powered by a four-cam type 547 engine) and a 356 Carrera. Photo by Lester Nehamkin

The Winners: Jack McAfee is congratulated by his favorite tuner, Vasek Polak, after winning the under- 1500cc feature at Riverside on June 29, 1958. Polak would go on to become the first Porsche-only dealer in America and one of the most important U.S. Porsche entrants of the 1970s. Vasek Polak will be remembered with a special award to be presented at the Monterey Historic this year. Photo by Dave Friedman

More Points On The Board: On his way to win-fling the 25-lap small-bore feature, McAfee exits a turn in his Porsche 550A at Hour Glass Field, San Diego on June 21, 1959.

John's Cars: John von Neumann had provided McAfee with his first Porsche ride in 1953. Here, McAfee drives von Neumann's RSK to third in the amateur preliminary at Riverside International Raceway on October 10, 1959. In the pro race the following day, he failed to finish. Photos by Bob Tronolone Jack McAfee



Michael T Lynch has written, with William Edgar and Ron Parravano, American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s, published by Motorbooks International in October 1998. The book covers road racing in America from its inception at Watkins Glen in 1948, through the decade of the 1950s, with special emphasis on the three main California teams of the era, those of John von Neumann, John Edgar and Tony Parravano.

Michael's Book Site

Other Links:
Dave Friedman Photojournalism
Jack McAfee, 1922 - 2007 The Official memorial website
Jack McAfee Tam McPartland's Old Race Car Site

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