(17 September, 2012) - When Rum Bum Racing moved from the highly-successful BMW M3 to the Porsche 911, it was a move that shocked the paddock.
But with back to back wins for Luis Bacardi's Rum Bum Racing, the team made the change look easy despite never having raced the Porsche before. Drivers Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi combined for wins at Barber Motorsports Park and then again at the team's home track, Homestead-Miami Speedway. With just one round of racing left in the 2012 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, the team holds a slim lead in the team championship standings as the group chases its first-ever championship.
Part of that success doubtless comes from Rum Bum Racing's Crew Chief Joe Varde, who has his own championship-winning legacy of success as a driver with the famed German brand. Varde, who raced his way from the drag strip to NASCAR Sprint Cup as a driver, has a history with Porsche that stretches back through the decades.
"The first experience I had racing a Porsche was in 1991," said Varde. "A friend of mine asked if I would join him in the Firestone Firehawk Series as his co-driver. We had a Porsche 944--the factory built just seven of them that year. We were strong, I think we won six of the 10 races and went on to take the championship. That was my first year in a Porsche, actually doing a full season with a Porsche. Before that, I'd just been in and out of them just for people who wanted me to drive their car. It was the first significant time that we actually did a whole season with them."
The consistency of a season-long run was relished by Varde, and he got another chance with the more traditional rear-wheel drive Porsche RSR just a few years later.
"Porsche had gone away from building RSR cars when they started building GTP cars and they went through this GTP 962 era," said Varde. "When they decided that their customer base was going away, they went back to their roots and started building RSRs again. My co-driver (Mark Sandridge), bought one in 1994 and there was an IMSA endurance series that was five races of the 12 that they ran that were world endurance points races. It was a championship within a championship and Mark and I won that championship that year."