DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 5, 2015) – Many people have a passion for Porsche, but Carlos de Quesada can say his passion led him to become an endurance-racing champion and private collector.
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin standout de Quesada won the 2013 Gold Cup championship in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned single-make series and owns the elite Alegra Motorsports race team.
Alegra has been a powerhouse in the Canadian series, but it’s based in Tampa, Florida. Even more uniquely, the team’s facility also is attached to a private section containing a collection of 30 drool-worthy Porsches.
De Quesada never intended to own a Porsche, but his gradual acquisition of the iconic German cars led to the need. Rather than locking away the cars in a garage, he decided to share his passion and built a floor for other enthusiast to enjoy his collection at the Alegra race shop.
“People stop by to see the cars all the time,” de Quesada said. “In fact, the other day I had someone call me and say they were stopping by because a friend from Germany wanted to see the collection. People love it, and it’s fun for me to find others who love it as much as I do.”
His favorite car in the collection?
“Where do you start?” de Quesada said. “The 550 is pure art work with the styling and the lines. The 911 is functionality at its best with its power, the way it handles. The 904 again is art: It has great styling. There’s too many to choose from.”
His collection has even made its way to a more prestigious museum in Stuttgart, Germany – the official Porsche museum. An ex-Ludwig Heimrath 1974 Porsche RSR race car he bought in Canada had been restored in his shop. After a few years of enjoying the classic, he traded it for another Porsche with no regret.
De Quesada was invited to the Porsche Night of Champions in Stuttgart, Germany as a reward for Alegra winning the 2013 Platinum Team Championship in partnership with Pfaff Motorsports, and he saw his old friend again. The car was in a private warehouse where the museum stores its vintage cars. The bright orange RSR had been on display in all its glory on the Porsche museum floor.
Before amassing the Porsche collection and winning championships as a team owner and driver, de Quesada was just a kid obsessed with a brand.
His interest in Porsche started at a young age. His family made an effort to attend or tune-in to the Indianapolis 500. When the cult classic movie “Risky Business” came out in 1983, no car was cooler than the featured 1979 Porsche 928. De Quesada was enamored. The Porsche was sleek and striking.
“I had grown up watching Sebring and the Daytona 24,” de Quesada said. “I watched Charles Mendez and Dave White win in Porsches. I eventually became friends with Dave White; that’s who got me started in pro racing and vintage racing.”
De Quesada’s racing career began in 1991. He began in a vintage series and competing in Porsche Club of America events in a Porsche 944 S2 that was in Firehawk-series spec. Once confident and bit by the racing bug, he began competing in more series, including the Motorola Cup, Trans Am Series, American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM Road Racing.
He has competed in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans multiple times and has competed 13 times in the ultimate North American endurance classic, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, winning the GT class in the race in 2007 along with J-F Dumoulin, Scooter Gabel and Marc Basseng – in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.
“My passion has been there since I was a kid,” de Quesada said. “And I honestly consider winning a major international event in a Porsche one of my greatest accomplishments. It really is. I have a high regard for these cars. They’re bullet-proof.
“Porsche has great customer support. On or off track, they’re there for you. They’re the only manufacturer that is truly at the track. If you need a part, they have it. It’s why I ran the Daytona 24 in it. I knew the car would be there at the end of the race.”
De Quesada’s Rolex 24 victory in 2007 eventually steered him in the direction of a fledgling Porsche GT3 Cup series in Canada.
In 2011, de Quesada’s engineer from the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona 24, Johnny Pianico of Fiorano Racing, told him about the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series and urged him to check it out. At that time, de Quesada was running in Trans Am, and its hectic, long schedule was taking a toll on his home and work life.
“I am a businessman, and I have three kids at home,” de Quesada said. “If you want to go all out and travel cross-country, do the U.S. series, but if you need to balance work Canada’s schedule is great.
“I also have always wanted to do a Cup series. I love that it’s a spec program. It’s up to the driver, not what you can put into the car. I have a passion for endurance racing; I love the buildup of the race before and during. But sprint races are flat out. It’s giving it your all for 45 minutes. It’s exciting.”
The Alegra Motorsports team joined the Canadian series in 2012, the series’ sophomore year. The team has since won multiple championships, including the Platinum Cup and Gold Cup Team Championships and de Quesada’s Gold Cup Driver’s Championship in a partnership with Pfaff Motorsports in 2013, the Gold Cup Team Championship and Driver’s Championship with Tim Sanderson in a partnership with Northwest Atlantic Motorsports in 2014, and the Silver Cup Driver Championship with Chuck Harris in 2014 as a solo effort.
“My team is comprised of the best in the industry,” de Quesada said. “With Andy Greene coming from IndyCar, Tony Ditto had worked on my Daytona Prototype program, Larry Hahn who came to us from Tom Milner’s PTG DMW factory team. They’re all great and talented guys. They’re the reason I have confidence in my car every weekend. My team pushes me to be my best.”
The team has grown quickly over the past few years in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series. Alegra is known for a strong lineup of tough veteran competitors and also as an incubator for young talent to develop.
Last year, Alegra Motorsports funded open-wheel star Spencer Pigot for his first full season in the Canadian series. Pigot finished third overall in the Platinum Cup championship.
“I like helping young drivers,” de Quesada said. “Spencer was great to work with. He carries himself very well, and his work ethic is just more than you could ask for.”
This season Alegra Motorsports and de Quesada again will focus on championships – with a nice, family-oriented surprise possibly added.
“I’ll, of course, be going for the Platinum championship,” de Quesada said. “It’s always tough with the young guys out there. But I have a great competitor in Marco (Cirone) for Platinum Masters. I’ll compete for that, of course.”
The team’s 2015 race season will be capped off by with the Rennsport Reunion V Sept. 25-27 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. De Quesada has submitted for four of his vintage race cars to compete in the magical Porsche-only event. Rennsport takes place after the end of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season.
For updates on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series, follow IMSA on Facebook and Twitter at @IMSA.