Peter Gregg (racing driver)

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Peter Holden Gregg (May 4, 1940 – December 15, 1980) was a racecar driver during the golden age of the Trans-Am Series and a four-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona. He was also the owner of Brumos, a Jacksonville, Florida car dealership.

Background[edit]

Gregg was born in New York City, the son of a mechanical engineer and manufacturer of marine incinerators.[1]

He graduated from the Deerfield Academy, a private prep school,[1] in 1957 and moved on to Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English.[2] He had a brief career in film making, coupling that as a squash player and then eventually settling as an automobile racer.[1] After his graduation from Harvard in 1961,[3] he moved to Europe and attended the Centro-Sud Driving School.[2] He then joined the U.S. Navy and became an Air Intelligence Officer, and was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida and served there until he was discharged in 1965.[2] He was at this time married to Jennifer Johnson and had two sons, Jason Gregg and Simon Gregg.

Racing career[edit]

1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR of Peter Gregg

Whilst he was at school, he began his motorsport career in gymkhanas and ice races after an initial appearance in a hill climb in 1958 in Laconia, New Hampshire.[1]

April, 1963 he drove an unmodified production Corvette in Osceola County, Florida and won the SCCA sanctioned race. He became a serious Porsche racer in 1964 with a Porsche 904 and then moved into competition with a Carrera.[1] In August 1965 he purchased a local Porsche dealership named Brumos Porsche after the death of the owner, Hubert Brundage.[2] He was the SCCA's Southeastern Division champion in 1967 in two classes and had scored victories in Daytona and Sebring.[1] In 1968 he acquired a Mercedes-Benz dealership. In 1968, he entered competition in the SCCA's Under-2-Litre section of the Trans-Am Series. He won six Trans-Ams and the title in 1969 and also took the SCCA's B Sedan National Championship. In 1970, he opened a third dealership called SportAuto selling Fiats and MGs.[2]

In 1971, he was part of the major Trans-Am Series, driving Bud Moore Ford Mustangs, alongside teammate George Follmer.[2] He won the Trans-Am Series in 1973 in a Brumos Porsche and again in 1974. By this time, he was involved with IMSA and won the IMSA GTO overall championship in 1971 and 1973 earning him the nickname "Peter Perfect" possibly a reference to a character in a Hanna-Barbera Cartoon called the "Wacky Races" and his clean cut Naval Officer image. In 1973 he won the 24 Hours of Daytona in a Porsche Carrera co-driven by Hurley Haywood. He then announced his retirement, to lead a life as a director of the Jacksonville National Bank,[2] a club tennis player and a speedboat racer out of the Ponte Vedra Yacht Club.[1]

He retracted his retirement and went on to win the 24 Hours of Daytona three more times, in 1975, 1976, and 1978.[2] He won IMSA GTO overall championships in 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979, giving him six career titles in the class. But in June 1980, he was due to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a 924 Carrera GTS for the Porsche factory team along with fellow American Al Holbert, but was injured near Paris when his car, en route to a practice session for the race,[2] attempted to overtake an ox cart, but a car pulled out in front of him and whilst avoiding them,[4] the car careered into a ditch.[3] Artist Frank Stella was his passenger.[5] His place was taken by Derek Bell, when doctors refused to allow Gregg to race.[3]

He later returned and was given the clearance to compete at the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona the following month. His partner Haywood, who was scheduled to drive for most of the race, soon fell ill whilst leading, leaving Gregg to fill in for the rest of the race, but their Porsche fell back, eventually finishing third. Suffering from double vision, he was soon barred from racing by IMSA.[3]

Death[edit]

"I just don't enjoy life anymore. I must have the right to end it. I don't want to live with my lifelong (unintelligible word) of driving everything away, with making myself and other(s) miserable. I don't feel crazy. I done all I want to. Thats it. 2.30pm

Gregg's suicide note.[3]

Peter Gregg was discovered dead aged 40 on December 15, 1980 at the sand dune by the A1A highway south of Jacksonville by a hiker, who discovered him with a gunshot wound to his head, an hour earlier than he had written on a suicide note (right)[3] that was found in his briefcase, addressed to Deborah Mars, whom he had recently married, his former wife, his two sons and his business associates.[4]

The official finding was suicide.[6] Reports at the time suggested that Gregg was suffering from a progressive and incurable nervous system disorder which would have slowly degraded his physical capabilities and would have eventually been fatal - and that this, in the context of his perfectionism for which he was known, was what motivated his suicide. He was believed by some to be a manic depressive.[7]

At the time of his death Gregg had achieved a reputation as one of America's greatest and most successful road racers with 152 wins out of 340 races he started.[3] Although Gregg was highly respected as a driver, his pursuit of perfectionism alienated those around him.[4][7]

Deborah Gregg would subsequently take over the business. Gregg's endurance racing partner, Hurley Haywood, would assist Deborah Gregg (herself a racer) as she took the position of Owner/CEO at Brumos Motorcars. Deborah Gregg became a successful driver in the Trans Am and endurance series driving for Brumos in the 80s, following in her late husband's foot steps.[8] She re-married and sold the dealerships in the mid 90s.

In 1991, Brumos Porsche entered a two-car Porsche team in the newly created IMSA SuperCar series and won three straight manufacturer’s championships for Porsche with a pair of traditional white, red, and blue 911 Turbos. Peter's son, Simon, later competed as a driver, partipicated in Trans-Am, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series.[9]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "International Motorsports Hall of Fame". Motorsportshalloffame.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "IMSAblog: Peter Gregg : a racing legend". Alex62.typepad.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19801217&id=NvALAAAAIBAJ&sjid=P1oDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6268,796550
  4. ^ a b c http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4uULAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vlgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6506,210519&dq=peter+gregg&hl=en
  5. ^ "Bernard Jacobson Gallery". Jacobsongallery.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  6. ^ "Driver's Suicide Is Laid To Post-Accident Worry". The New York Times. December 17, 1980. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and Museum". Mshf.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  8. ^ Roberts, Rich (1987-04-04). "She Is Chasing After Dreams, Leaving the Nightmare Behind Widow of Peter Gregg Has Taken the Wheel". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  9. ^ "Simon Gregg Signs With American Viperacing for Sebring and Daytona; www.TheRaceSite.com". Theraceforum.com. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 

External links[edit]