VPRacing.com logo Vasek Polak

         for the Porsche enthusiast

A Man and His Porsches
By Joe Rusz

From "Porsche Sport 72", Published by Bond/Parkhurst, Newport Beach California, 1973.

Vasek Polak

If you don't see what you want, ask for it. Here is a partial lineup of Vasek Polak's Porsches. Left to right: two 904s, a 910, two 908 roadsters, a J.W. Wyer 917, two Martini 917s, a 917 Spyder, and a 917-10 turbocharged Can-Am roadster.

They laughed when he sat down to drive, says Vasek Polak. The office workers and even his co-workers at Max Hoffman Imports in New York broke into loud guffaws when the Czechoslovakian immigrant climbed behind the wheel of the Porsche Spyder which he had bought with his hard-earned mechanic's salary. "Everyone thought I was crazy, buying a 550 Spyder to drive on the street," says Vasek ("Va-shek"). But few people thought Vasek Polak was crazy when in December of 1959 he opened the nation's first all-Porsche automobile dealership in Manhattan Beach, California. Nor did they laugh when his growing stable of Porsche racing cars began winning at motor racing events of regional and national caliber. And when Vasek Polak's Porsche 917-10 finished second in the 1972 Canadian-American Challenge Cup series, there were only congratulations--no smirks.

Polak has always indulged himself in expensive pastimes, specifically racing cars (and, in his early days, motorcycles). He has always worked hard, and even his leisure time activity, racing, has been pursued with a vengeance that has made him even more successful in his business dealings. In his homeland of Czechoslovakia during the 1930s, Polak operated a machine shop, and he built the engines that powered the motorcycles he raced in events throughout the country.

"I had a 250cc bike which I often raced in three classes. I'd win my own class, then move up into the next class, which at that time was 350cc. I'd race in that and if I won, move on to the biggest class, 500cc. You could do that in those days. After each race, the guys would be waiting for me with gas and oil, and after filling my bike up, they'd let me go. I often won all three heats that way. A heat was 100 kilometers long, so by the end of the day I'd raced 300 kilometers." If the people in New York were amused by Vasek's Porsche Spyder, then his countrymen in Czechoslovakia must have been beside themselves with mirth when in 1947 the ambitious machinist showed up at a grand touring race in an aluminum-bodied, custom-built, Mille Miglia Fiat. "The car cost the equivalent of $5000, which at that time would have bought a single family house. But it was a terrific car with an aluminum body, Weber carburetors--a great GT car." The local racing officials knew that very well and when he posted an impressive qualifying time they were soon at his side advising him to be prudent in his first automobile race. Vasek listened, then ran the race his own way. "I ran away from them (the other competitors) on the first lap, but that's because a motorcycle racer almost always makes a good car racer. He has a feeling inside himself for the machine," claims Vasek.

When Polak left Hoffman Imports in 1958 and moved to California to open his own Porsche tune-up shop, race car driving became a less important part of his life. There were Porsches to be tuned, and Polak, the top tuner in the West, was hard at work making other people's racing cars competitive. He prepared the Spyder of John von Neumann, the Porsche distributor for Southern California. Although von Neumann had his own crew of Porsche mechanics, he chose Polak's shop for his tune-ups, according to Vasek. "He said, 'it costs me less and the car runs better'," Vasek remarks with a laugh.

Vasek Polak

Vasek Polak (top) is one of motor racing's patrons. Owner of successful Porsche and BMW dealerships, he also has an extensive stable of racing cars. Aluminum-bodied Mille Miglia Fiat (center) was his first racing car. Vasek's racing career, however, started on a motorcycle (bottom), which he raced in European enduros.

Vasek Polak Vasek Polak
Vasek Polak's first car after his arrival in U.S. was this Porsche Spyder (sideways) which he purchased with money he earned as a mechanic. Vasek brought the car to California and competed in local races. Here he goes under a bridge at Paramount Ranch slightly off form. Vasek Polak
Vasek Polak Until his business career demanded all of his time, Vasek was an ace Porsche tune-up man - factory as well as customer cars. See replacing carb jets (above), Vasek works on rare, eight-cylinder, dohc Spyder. Factory Spyders that called Vasek's shop home while on U.S. tour included an eight-cylinder Spyder and two six-cylinder machines (left).

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