Nowadays Mike Smith is a chiropractic physician to some of the world’s top racing drivers. Of course he isn’t at liberty to reveal which esteemed pilots benefit from his musculoskeletal expertise, but we understand that a number of Formula One, Indycar, NASCAR and WEC drivers are in finer fettle than they would otherwise be without him.
But way back when, he was working here at Daytona (where GRR is covering the Classic 24) on minimum wage at the time he first spotted a Porsche 935. ‘I remember seeing the 935 come in to the pits and I really liked their tail lights’ he says of his motoring passion’s origin, ‘but then it was pointed out to me that two of the four glowing lights I could see were actually the turbos!’
Those flashes of molten steel stayed strong with Mike and by the late nineties he owned not just two 935s, but also a brace of 962s. Fine effort, sir. However each of these Stuttgart legends were to find new owners, leaving him to find something to fill the void.
‘Blue is my favourite colour’ he replys when asked what led to his acquisition of the ex-Ross Hyett Blue Coral 935. The car was built by Aylesbury-based G-FORCE Motorsport to compete in the modified Porsche/Supercup BRDC National GT Championship. This was a tough race series. Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ford, Lotus, Ferrari, DeTomaso, Marcos and Venturi were all involved, but the two Blue Coral cars of Ross Hyett and John Greasley cleaned up, with Greasley bagging the championship in 1993 and Hyett second place. In 1994 Hyett went one better …
As for the Jagermeister car, Mike has some German ancestry ‘and besides’ he adds, ‘it’s such a cool livery’. Back in the day this one was a spare car and has no race heritage as such, despite apparently being taken to many race meetings. Instead, it was usually plundered for spares. Mike acquired it around 2010 and had it built up to full working order. On the basis that he’s unlikely to grant us a stint behind the wheel, we have to ask how they are to drive.
He laughs. ‘Well Derek Bell reckoned it was the most difficult racing car that he’d ever driven! The thing is that when the boost comes in the power output goes from 400bhp to 800bhp instantly. Pure adrenaline. No car pins you back in your seat quite like a 935.’
With many 935s apparently in museums or dormant in private collections, Mike is determined to race them at as many events as possible. ‘I still want to race at Elkhart Lake and Mid Ohio. Oh and the Festival of Speed would be epic; it would be great to take the car back to the UK – its home.’
As our brief chat in the busy Daytona paddock draws to a close we ask if there are any other cars he covets, besides 935s. ‘Oh no’ he grins ‘I’m in way too deep with them. Oh did I mention that I have most of the parts to build a Martini 935 as well…?
With that last revelation we turn a delicate shade of Chartreuse before we remember that as long as people like Mike own these cars, we’re going to be able to see them tearing around places like Daytona, exhausts ablaze.
Photography by Andrew Craig