It was during the crazy 1960s that cocaine started to become popular; at that time the drug was still expensive and hard to find, the kind of stuff reserved for celebrities. It was only during the 1980s that the drug became readily available to the average consumers and the responsibility for this social disaster is Colombian organized crime. It took 20 years for the Colombian drug lords to find contacts in North America and organize the logistics of the operations but once it was up and running, the cocaine traffic became the most lucrative criminal activity in the world.
Among all the drug lords in South America, no one was more powerful and, consequently, more popular than Pablo Escobar. He was the founder and leader of the Medellin Cartel and at the peak of his activities, Escobar was smuggling between 70 to 80 tons of cocaine per month into the USA. Naturally, he became one of the wealthiest men in the world.
As we all know, every super-wealthy villain must have some expensive hobbies and car racing was one of Escobar’s passions.
It was in the late 1970s, when Pablo Escobar (already the leader of the Medellín Cartel) started his racing driver career, competing on the recently created Copa Renault 4.
The “King of Cocaine” was an enthusiastic but mediocre driver but that didn’t prevent him to finish the 1979 season in second place. Most of his fellow race drivers will tell that Escobar’s cars were completely out of the regulation but, obviously, nobody ever complained about it.
The Renault 4 is an iconic car in Colombia, it played a similar role as the VW Beetle played in Brazil, (https://theclassicmachines.com/2021/02/23/the-vw-beetle-and-how-we-raced-it/) but at this point, the need for speed pushed Escobar into something faster.
Escobar later on bought a Porsche 911 RSR that was originally raced on the very first edition of the IROC Series, in 1973/74.
Before we move forward, it might be interesting to talk about the IROC Series: IROC stands for International Race Of Champions, which is a short series of races where a selected group of drivers race identically-prepared stock cars from a single brand, set up by a single team of mechanics
The idea of the series is to bring Champions from different categories of motorsports, like Formula 1, NASCAR, Indy, Rally, and so on, to test their skills on the race track, driving identical cars.
The 911 RS was the chosen model for the first season, in 1973/74, but for the next year, Chevrolet stepped in as the main sponsor of the event; consequently, the Camaro became the official car for the IROC Series until 1989.
The Porsche bought by Escobar has a very interesting resume, during the IROC inaugural season it was driven by the Brazilian F1 driver Emerson Fittipaldi, who had just won the 1974 World Championship. After that, the car was sold to a few different privateer racers in IMSA. In 1978 the 911 was entered in the Daytona 24 Hours and that was precisely when Escobar bought the car, using Konrad Racing as an agent for the purchase
Buying old race cars from the USA and Europe is nothing new, what Pablo Escobar did was a common practice among racing teams in South America. As soon as he got the 911 delivered he replaced the front fenders, making it look like a 935 slant nose and he painted the car with the iconic Martini livery.
Escobar competed with this Porsche in a series of races around South America but perhaps the most famous event was a hill climb in the outskirts of Medelin when Pablo bet he could finish the course in less than 15 seconds behind Ricardo “Cuchilla” Londoño, then Colombia’s most famous race driver. Escobar was being extremely generous to himself, after all, 15 seconds is an eternity in car races and sure enough, he did finish the climb within the time to win the bet, an accomplishment he bragged about until he died.
Cuchilla (knife, in Spanish) was the first Colombian to come pretty close to start a career in Formula One. In 1981 he even drove for the English team Ensign in practicing for the Brazilian GP. His career was cut short when Bernie Ecclestone found out that the Colombian driver was being sponsored by “narco-dollars” and denied him his F1 superlicence.
The Escobar’s “career” on the race tracks was also short-lived, during the 1980s his narco activities grew immensely, not giving him enough spare time for hobbies.
His narco empire reached its peak by the end of the decade and Pablo Escobar became the most wanted man in the world. In 1991 he struck a deal with the authorities: in exchange for his peaceful surrender, the Colombian government granted Escobar wouldn’t be extradited to the USA. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in a luxurious, self-built prison called La Catedral. In 1992 when the police tried to relocate him to a regular, state jail, Escobar escaped and went into hiding, triggering a nationwide manhunt. A year later, in 1993, Pablo Escobar was killed during an exchange of fire with the Colombian National Police. That was the end of the Medelin Cartel.
As a notorious car guy, Escobar had a small collection of classic cars. Most of them were destroyed in 1988 when soldiers of the rival Cali Cartel invaded the Escobar’s farm.
Somehow a few cars were spared from the rage of the rival family and later on, they were seized by the authorities and auctioned. Among those cars was the IROC Porsche 911.
The infamous Escobar’s 911 came to the spotlight once again when in 2021 it appeared for sale on the pages of DuPont Registry. The car was professionally restored to its original glory as the IROC race car driven by Emerson Fittipaldi.
To the untrained eyes (including mine) the 911 RSR looks like a regular street Carrera adapted to perform race track duties, but in fact, Porsche developed the car as a purebred racing machine. It was equipped with a 3.0 litre, flat-six, air-cooled engine, capable of 300HP, but this power output could be easily doubled if properly turbocharged.
The RSR became the darling of the GT cars in the mid-70s and early 80s, but Porsche only built 1,580 units, more than enough to homologate the car for the FIA group 4 GT class but surely, not enough to meet the demand at the time. As a result, the RSR became a very rare car to find and a prized possession for the collectors.
In 2016 Porsche honoured the legend of the RSR, when the company revived the nametag with a modern interpretation of the car, aimed once again at the professional and amateur GT class competition around the world.
If you have 2.2 million dollars to spare, you can be the next owner of this controversial RSR and the fact the car was once owned by the most infamous drug dealer of the 1980s is not inflating the price tag. The value lines up with another 1974 IROC 911, sold by the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, in 2016, for 2.3 million dollars.
According to the ad, the car is even ready to see some action on the race track once again.