Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

In pictures: Anatomy of a Porsche race car

Drive columnist Peter Cheney went to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly known as Mosport) to probe the inner workings of the Porsche GT3 Cup race car. Although it's based on a standard 911, the GT3 car is an entirely different animal - it's loud, it's fast, and there's only one seat. You can buy one from Porsche for $190,000. Have a look at Cheney's photo gallery to see what you get for that money.

1 of 21

Crew chief Gianni Panico tightens a wheel on the Pfaff Motorsports car with long-handled torque wrench. Instead of conventional wheel lugs, Porsche GT3 Cup race cars use a center-lock system that clamps the wheels onto the hubs with a large, single nut. The locking nut must be torqued down with 380 foot-pounds of force - about five times the torque used on a street car with conventional wheel lugs.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

2 of 21

The front compartment of the GT3 Cup car has the clean, purposeful look of a military aircraft. Stainless steel and aluminum plumbing components are used for light weight and high strength.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

3 of 21

The front compartment of the GT3 Cup is filled with plumbing for the car's systems. The white cylinder in the center (with blue cap) is an air jack that lets mechanics raise the car in seconds. The light-green bottle next to it is the fluid reservoir for the electrically-driven power steering. The silver canisters on the bottom left are high-pressure pumps for the fuel-injection system. The horizontally-mounted red cylinders on the left and right are remote air and fluid reservoirs for the front shock absorbers. The black aluminum component at top (with two holes in it) is a quick-fill port for the fuel tank. To the right of the quick filler are two hydraulic cylinders that work the brakes.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

4 of 21

Pfaff Porsche team driver Kyle Marcelli with the Pfaff GT3 racer and team trailer. The cars cost $190,000 from Porsche. Spare parts, the trailer and support equipment can more than double that.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 21

Driver Jeff Pabst with the Pfaff Porsche team car.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

6 of 21

GT3 Cup racer Shaun McKaigue wears a fireproof Nomex suit. The suits are designed to give drivers time to escape if the car catches on fire after a crash.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

7 of 21

Shaun McKaigue's helmet is linked to a restraint system known as a HANS Device, which limits the forward movement of a drivers' head in an impact. The HANS Device is now mandatory in many racing classes. Crashes like the one that killed NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt in 2001 highlighted the need for systems that limit head movement.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

8 of 21

Kyle Marcelli accelerates down the front straightaway at Mosport in the Pfaff Motorsports car.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

9 of 21

GT3 Cup cars use a much larger rear wing than the street-going Porsche model they're based on. The wing's angle can be adjusted to fine-tune the amount of downforce they generate.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

10 of 21

Porsche GT3 Cup cars line up before a practice lapping session at Mosport raceway.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

11 of 21

GT3 Cup cars use specially-made Michelin tires designed for the race series. Each team is allowed only two types of tire - an untreaded slick (shown here) that's used to maximize traction in dry conditions, and a grooved rain tire.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

12 of 21

Although the body shell of GT3 Cup cars is the same as the one used on Porsche street cars, it's reinforced with a steel roll cage. Carbon fiber doors reduce weight, and glass side windows are replaced with lightweight polycarbonate.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

13 of 21

The engine lid of a GT3 Cup car is fitted with steel safety plns that eliminate the latch used on street cars.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

14 of 21

Cup cars use forged aluminum wheels with center-lock fasteners instead of wheel lugs. Note the brake duct opening in the rear fender (on far right) that allows hot air to escape from the wheel well. The brakes of a race car generate enormous heat as kinetic energy is converted to heat.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

15 of 21

Some GT3 Cup cars use two-piece wheels. The outer hub is bolted to the centre section, which allows the use of different hub sizes (and hub replacement after a crash).

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

16 of 21

Race mechanics keep their tools organized for rapid access.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

17 of 21

Not your average jackstand: Porsche GT3 Cup cars use specially-made safety stands that prevent the car from dropping while mechanics work underneath. The stands come in sets of six, and cost $2,000.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

18 of 21

The interior of a GT3 Cup car is stripped of all upholstery to save weight and allow quick access to mechanical and electrical systems. A removable steering wheel makes it easier for drivers to climb in and out. The ice chest on the right is connected to cooling lines that run through the drivers's suit.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

19 of 21

The fire suppression system uses a centrally-mounted canister connected to stainless steel lines that lead to nozzles in the engine room and driver's compartment.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

20 of 21

GT3 Cup cars use a long-handled shifter with sequential action. To shift up, the driver pulls the stick backward. Downshifts are made by pushing forward. The silver handle on the front of the stick is a lockout system that prevents first gear and reverse from being engaged by accident.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

21 of 21

The street car dash is eliminated in the GT3 Cup car. In its place is a Motec digital dash that can display a wide range of information, including RPM, temperatures, speed and lap times. Drivers can switch the display with wheel-mounted buttons.

Peter Cheney for The Globe and Mail/peter cheney The Globe and Mail

Report an error