German Winning Machine: Keith Mayers’ 1985 Porsche 944

Keith Mayers took a big chance building a 1985 Porsche 944 for drag racing action; the car was never intended to be used this way by its German designers. Mayers can look back now and smile as his risk has paid off many times over in the form of round money, event wins, and championships.

The Porsche came into Mayers’s life when he was painting cars for a living at a local body shop. The shop’s owner found the 944 and it was a good deal because it had a blown engine. Mayers was given the Porsche and he decided to build it as a wild street/strip car at home.

“I got a back half kit from Chassis Engineering that came with a VHS video, so I took the TV into the garage and built the back half myself. This was the first time I cut a rear end or did anything else like this. A friend of mine built the rest of the roll cage for me. The car still had the power windows, power locks, and was still streetable with the 396 cubic-inch engine I put in it,” Mayers says.

Why put so much effort into building a car like this? For Mayers, it’s all about having something unique. Mayers actually raced a Trans Am for many years but got tired of people always thinking it was a Camaro — people don’t make that mistake with his 944. Mayers has always enjoyed the styling of Porsche vehicles, so having one as his race car is just the icing on the cake.

The car has gone through a lot of paint changes, engine swaps, and chassis updates while Mayers has campaigned it. Mayers ran the Porsche with the stock front end and suspension for several years, but it was eventually cut off and replaced with a tube-style front end to make maintenance easier. The Porsche is currently powered by a 572 cubic-inch big-block Chevy that was built by Chris Wilson. Bad Habits Transmissions built the Powerglide that rests behind the big Chevy and connects it to the Ford 9-inch rear.

“When I originally built the car I was only about $9,000 into the project and I won that back the first year footbrake racing it. Since I’ve had the car I’ve won a lot of races: I won two Hot Rod championships in the IHRA, won my division in 2019 with the NHRA, I’ve been to the JEGS All-Stars race twice and been to the finals each time,” Mayers tells.

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Anything can be a racecar if you’re brave enough, and Mayers’s Chevy-powered Porsche is proof of this. His Porsche might not be at home on the Autobahn, but it does fit in perfectly at the drag strip, where it continues to print winning time slips each season in Super Street and Super Gas.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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