Horst was the Kwech-est in ‘66

Horst was the Kwech-est in ‘66

(Horst Kwech: November 28, 1937 - December 28, 2019)

It was 1965, the year I was born, and thanks to the efforts of SCCA’s presiding President, John Bishop, there was now a platform for small bore under two-liter sedans (U2L) to show what they could do off and on the track for the upcoming 1966 racing season.

The first race of the new series was to be held on March 25th 1966 at the Sebring Circuit in Sebring Florida. It included 35 U2L B-Sedans mixed in with the big bore US manufactures like Dodge, Ford and Plymouth. To everyone’s surprise, the small-bore Alfa GTA at the hands of Jochen Rindt would go on to beat all the big bore and small-bore race cars and win the overall race.

Bob Tillius would finish 2nd in a Dodge Dart. As to whether Bob was really racing Jochen for the overall victory is still unknown. Bob claims he was not racing an U2L race car because he didn’t care who was racing in that class for the inaugural race. His focus was to win his class and take home the trophy for 1st in the over two-liter group. If you ask any Alfisti, they will tell you their little GTA’s stole the show with 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th overall and where you stand on or near the podium is the result of your best effort.

(Photo courtesy of www.barcboys.com: Bob Tullius’s Dodge Dart. Tullius co drove with Tony Adamowicz to 2d place.)

(Photo courtesy of www.barcboys.com: #36 Alfa of winner Jochen Rindt, #40 Alfa of Gus Andrey & Horst Kwech)

Another B-Sedan race car driver who was competing at Sebring that year and finished just off the podium with a fourth in class and 5th overall was Horst Kwech in an Alfa GTA 1600. The prior year, Kwech won the SCCA Central Division Championship in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super while working for Knauz Motors in Lafe Forest, Illinois. Because of Kwech’s early racing success, he was offered a chance to purchase an Autodelta-prepared GTA to campaign at Sebring. It was that car along with his co-pilot, Gaston Andrey, that would go on to dominate the rest of the racing season.

(Horst Kwech / Gaston Andrey - Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance for The Alitalia Trophy - Sebring 4 Hours - 1966 Trans-American Sedan Championship, round 1 - © Tom Grant via RacingSportsCar.com)

The next race was at Mid America Raceway in Wentzville, Missouri. It would be a 300-mile race with 27 starters and 19 finishers. Horst would finish 2nd overall behind Tom Yeager and Bob Johnson in a Ford Mustang and first in the U2L class. Even though the Mustang had 4728 cc’s compared to the Alfa’s 1570 cc motor, they both completed 105 laps. The famous Jacky Ickx and Hubert Hahne would finish 3rd overall in a Ford Lotus Cortina and soon to be famous Sam Posey finished 4rth overall with his copilot Harry Theodorocopulous in another Alfa Romeo GTA.

The Bryar 250 was next, and Allan Moffat would take the overall spot in a Fors Lotus Cortina, but Horst was not far behind in his Alfa with a 3rd place finish. Next was the VIR 400 where Horst finished 3rd overall behind two Ford Mustangs and 1st in class. While Horst and Gaston were not entered in the Maloboro12 hour race in Maryland, they finished 2nd overall the next race in September at the Pan America Endurance Race at Green Valley raceway in Smithfield Texas.

(Horst Kwech at Green Valley in 4th place at the time of this picture buy Jerry Melton)

The final race of the 7-race season was to be held at Riverside International Raceway for the Riverside 4 – hour race. There were 34 entries, and the Kwech/Andrey team had the championship locked up. By the time Riverside showed up on the calendar, they were ahead of the next closest team of Frank Gardner by 26 points. Frank would go on to with the race at Riverside in his Ford Lotus Cortina and collect the 9 points for that place on the podium. Horst picked up another 6 points with a 2nd place finish giving him 42 points and the Championship. The real battle was for 2nd place that year. Not may know that Alan Mann was one point ahead of Frank going into the last race of the season. His 3rd place finish only came with 4 points. Thereby, handing the second spot to Frank and his team. Ford was probably very happy with the results of SCCA’s inaugural B- Sedan racing series as Alan and Frank both drove Ford Lotus Cortinas.

Fun Fact: Horst Kwech has been granted 17 patents and holds the distinction of being the only driver to win a Trans-Am race in both the Over and Under 2-liter divisions.