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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The Spooky Story of James Dean's Porsche

By Steve Gruenwald

I have an August 1990 magazine called The Robb Report, which has an in depth article on the James Dean accident and subsequent tragedies that followed. This gets very spooky. 

The article states that George Barris bought the car for $2,500. A Dr. Eschrich bought the engine parts and the trans. He put the engine parts in his own Porsche and loaned the trans to a friend, Dr. McHenry. Both were entered in a sports car race. They were asked about being superstitious about using parts from a car in which someone was killed. But being doctors, they were above superstitions. Midway through the fifth lap McHenry's car went out of control, flipped over, and he was killed. About the same time, Eschrich's car also went out of control; he crashed into a tree and was severely injured. 

Two days later another Porsche driver, who had bought two rear tires from Dean's car, was killed in a racing accident. After "Rebel Without A Cause" became a national hit Barris began to show the car at shows. In March 1959, a fire broke out where the car was being stored. A few weeks later the car was being transported just outside Salinas, California, which is where Dean was killed, when the truck was in an accident. The driver, George Barhuis, was killed when he was thrown from the cab and crushed by the Porsche as it rolled off the bed. 

The car continued to tour the country. On Sept 30, 1959, four years to the day after Dean's wreck, a 15-year-old had come to see Dean's car, dressed like Dean in blue jeans, white T-shirt, and a red jacket. He was standing 12 feet from the display when three bolts snapped and the car rolled over on him, crushing both legs. Some weeks later, while en route to another show, the car broke in two and pieces fell on the road causing a fatal accident. In New Orleans a month later, the car inexplicably broke into 11 pieces. 

In 1960, Barris decided he would retire the car. The car was in Florida at the time. Barris had the car packed in a sealed boxcar and escorted by a team of Pinkerton detectives to Los Angeles were it arrived five days later. The seal was intact, but when they opened the door, the Porsche was gone, never to be seen again. Well, if that doesn't give you food for thought...

Steve Gruenwald
Funtorace@aol.com

 

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