Caught by the racing bug early in his life, Phil Currin's life seems to have been dedicated to racing. He has spent most of his life building race cars and running them. His childhood probably helped a lot as his father held a Dodge dealership. He would deal with engines as soon as he could, and he earned his first car at the age of 11. Nicknamed 'Fast Phil', he likes to be considered as a top class driver. He surely is, as his whole racing career demonstrates it.
He was one of the many drivers who were part of the IMSA humble beginnings. A master candidate in Business Administration during the week, he would turn into a racer on the weekends. He had purchased a Chevrolet Corvette in 1967, which he would prepare, and he would use it in autocross. Autocrossing gave him the experience of car control, and it helped him for sure. After running more than fifty ones in two years or so and doing some SCCA races, he would get involved in IMSA GT racing.
He would enter this 327ci Chevrolet Corvette right from the start of the series and his only result in 1971 was a 12th place at the Daytona Finale.. After a mild 1971 season, he would be crowned IMSA GTO champion in 1972. He had posted a pair of thirds and three other top ten finishes. It was a totally private effort and his crew consisted of fellow students.
Copyright Louis Galanos
In 1973, he and fellow racer Bruce Morton would end up eleventh at Sebring, which was the highest placing for such a car in years. After a rather disappointing season, at the wheel of an old car, his best result being a 9th at Daytona, he eyed a new car. He would purchase it with a friend and partner, Bruce Morton. At the Daytona Finale, he and Bruce Morton showed up with the new car, which appeared to be the former BFG Lifesaver t-top car. His partner had put up the necessary funds, while Phil Currin brought his mechanical skill, truck and trailer. In addition to the car, Morton/Currin bought a certain amount of equipment to go with it. They obtained John's special fueling rig which comprised a 6 foot long canister standing about 8 feet tall in order to get the full ram effect during refuelling. The Minilites which came with the car (plus 2 spares) were originally a four bolt pattern, apparently built for Roger Penske's Javelin program. When the sale did not go through, John Greenwood had picked up the wheels at a good price; the holes were freeze-filled with a similar material and a five bolt pattern was re-drilled. Another distinguishing feature (at the time) was a special stainless steel fuel cell with dual pickups. This tank was subsequently moved to the Swiss Cheese car and then went astray.
The car was stamped as #01 and John Greenwood gave them a receipt of the car. At the first race they would enter, which was the Daytona Finale, John Greenwood was hired as technical adviser. For some unknown reasons, the partnership dissolved quickly, and Bruce Morton returned the car to John Greenwood's shop in Livonia, where a slab-sided wide body conversion took place over the winter. Running only once in 1974, the car was returned to St Petersburgh where it sat until 1979. Several attempts at selling the car proved to no avail.
After his partnership dissolved, Phil Currin would pull out the 1963 car one more year. He would use it until 1974, and then he sold it to a another friend. The 1974 season was difficult, mainly because the new Porsche Carrera RSRs were unbeatable. He posted an 8th at Charlotte, but it was clear that he had to switch to a more potent car. By the end of the season, he had purchased the Mike Murray car, which was also an ex John Greenwood car. Phil Currin would use it from late 1974 to 1978. From that period, Phil would use his never ending energy to update his car. Starting as a GTO car, it would evolve every year and then be used in the new AAGT class. In 1975, however, his best placings were three twelfth places at Mid Ohio, Road Atlanta and Mid America. The next season would be far better, and he was in the top ten seven times out of eight. He ended up 9th in points. He would have placed better, had he the necessary funding to run a full season. But it proved to be one of his weaknesses, and he would always have to run as a privateer. In 1977, he would again have a relatively successful season, and his best placings were two fourth place at Mid America and Daytona Paul Revere. The car was sporting the special rear end with high tail end. The 1978 season would be more difficult, with the introduction of the Porsche 935, which were clearly the class of the field.
His best race was at Mid Ohio, with a fifth place overall. Those were successful years, with the car undergoing some chassis lightening and a host of body changes. By the time 1978 was reached, the car was run in the AAGT class, but had become too light to get enough traction and handle well. However, he had a very good race at Daytona Paul Revere, with a fourth place finish, and a first in GTO class. In fact, following all these body changes, he had made the choice to get back to the GTO class. Known as the 'Swiss Cheese', his car failed to act as required, so Phil Currin knew it was time to search for another racer when he crashed it in California. In the meantime, Phil got to get in touch with Glenn Bunch, who was entering a mighty AAGT Dodge Challenger. Searching for a very fast partner, the latter found in Phil Currin the right driver and friend. Glenn and Phil would become friends and they would do a few races at the wheel of the big AAGT car. The two of them are still running the car at some vintage races, nearly thirty years later.
After the Dodge Challenger stint, Phil would search for his new racer. It brought him back to his former partner Bruce Morton, who had kept the white car they entered once in 1973. The car would be run from 1980 thru 1989. Once again, the car would evolve with the years, and sport many different components.
Copyright Dave Kutz
At Daytona in 1980, still running on a shoestring budget, he entered the race alone and did the refueling, stopped when he felt tired, and ran alone until he retired. He had secured the fastest GTO lap in qualifying, you can imagine how frustrating this could be. But he never surrendered, and he would make wonders in the following years. Those years were very busy, with Phil Currin running both the IMSA and Trans Am championships. The car could be easily modified in order to accomodate both rules. The GTX cars were out of reach, so Phil had to concentrate on the GTO class, which would also become very tough. In 1980, a ninth at Road Atlanta was the best he could get overall, but he finished 5th in class.
In 1981 Phil rebodied the car with a rounded rear style and in 1982 he changed back to the slab-sided style produced by Competition Fiberglass, like earlier versions of the Swiss Cheese car. The car was raced in this form pretty much through to 1989. During the following years, he focused on the Trans Am, and he posted a string of top ten finishes. His best season, however, would be 1982, which was his most competitive, as he captured a second place overall in the Trans Am, beating a lot of factory backed drivers, who ran newer cars.
The following seasons were less active, as Phil would run sporadically at different races. A ninth at Road Atlanta in 1983, a 22nd at Charlotte in 1984. He was not to be seen in 1985 while he entered one race in 1986. Later, in 1989 and 1990, he would be back with a Chevrolet Camaro, and he shortly missed the AAC title in 1991 to Dick Greer, losing the title at the last race.
Copyright Mark Windecker
He was still a racer, he still ran some SCCA events or did some autocrossing before returning to the IMSA fields. In 1990, he purchased back his old '63 car, which he would restore with the help of some friends. The car is still used nowadays and can be seen at some vintage events. He was thinking about going into the restoration and the preparation of Corvettes for vintage racing.
Today, you can find him at many places in Florida, doing some instructing, some racing and going to swap meets to help clean out his huge collection of parts. Born a racer, Phil Currin will remain a racer. Thank you to Wayne Ellwood, who helped me write this post.