Vasek Polak Vasek Polak

         for the Porsche enthusiast

A Man and His Porsches
By Joe Rusz
Page 2

Von Neumann was right--the cars Vasek prepared did run better. "We would always try to make the car--the engine--better," he says. "We would lighten the flywheel, use lighter valve springs, try different camshafts. The factory people would laugh at us because we were turning our engine 8400 rpm and they were turning theirs 7700. They told us at Sebring that after another 100 rpm our engine would blow. But we ran one 12 hour race, and then at Daytona, a six hour race, with the same engine, and it was still good."

Anxious to prove to the factory that his engines would live, Vasek presented Porsche's mechanics with a necklace of his lightweight valve springs. He told them to assemble an engine with his springs on one half and the factory springs on the other, and to rev the powerplant up to 9000 rpm. "Your side will blow and mine will stay together," he boasted. But the Porsche engine men did not listen, and when Vasek returned to the factory, his springs were hanging from a nail on the wall. "Nobody had even tested them," he sighs. Some time later, however, Porsche became aware of the success of Vasek's cars, and the factory started ordering his lightweight valve springs for their production racing engines. "We called them 'California springs,' and all the RSGOs and RSGls were equipped with springs which we had sent over."

Vasek's mechanical prowess became almost legendary and the list of his racing clientele grew. At his Manhattan Beach racing shop, he prepared machines for Jack MacAfee, Ken Miles, Jerry Titus, Roger Penske, Bob Holbert, Jean Behra, Jo Bonnier, and Count Wolfgang Von Trips. "In 1966 Porsche asked me to come to Sebring to work on the factory team. You can imagine how that felt, a private mechanic on a factory team. It was because Dr. Porsche respected me and my work. He said, 'Vasek, you always come from the back to the front.'"

The same penchant for mechanical inventiveness that has made Vasek's racing cars (or the ones he has tuned) so successful, has also caused him to acquire an impressive collection of racing machinery. "From the day that I bought my first Spyder I've always been buying race cars. I buy them, improve them, and sell them. To me they're like a thoroughbred race horse that's sick. You give him the best treatment and then when he's well, you turn him over to someone who will enjoy him and handle him the right way."

Vasek Polak

The late Jean Behra was among the many luminaries of racing who benefitted from Polak's mechanical skills. At international racing events in the late 60's, Polak tuned Porsches for Behra and other racing greats.

Vasek Polak

Polak's stable of Porsche racing cars provided many drivers a ride. Vasek's 904 coupe (top) was driven by Milt Minter in many SCCA events during the mid-60s. Porsche 910 roadster (bottom), a later addition to Polak's collection, competes in current SCCA contests. Next page
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