Don’t ask Jeff Zwart for the $100 in his pocket right now.
For a multitude of reasons, the racing driver, photographer, and pilot probably wouldn’t give it to you, but for one very important reason, he almost certainly won’t.
Jeff ZwartEnlarge Photo
The 61-year-old speed specialist slowly rolls a smile over a red face that is stubbled with the white hairs accumulated from world travels—and perhaps a lack of sleep—and he starts in on a story with a hearty laugh that emanates from somewhere around the “Porsche” logo on his race suit.
“The Baja 1000 gets to be surreal sometimes,” he chuckles.
Zwart has become a night-driving specialist in the grueling Baja 1000, he says. Sometimes the dust is so bad that he can’t see the road in front of him so he relies on reading the sides of the road to determine what’s ahead.
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“I remember one night…we had been in the car for four hours. The silt beds are unbelievable, [the silt] is the finest powder you could imagine because monster, 1,000-horsepower trophy trucks have just dug it up the night before you got there,” he says.
Zwart had no choice other than to dive in, he says: “We went into it hard and fast, to the point where the silt was roosting over the top of the windshield—completely. It was like skiing in deep powder.”
Then the man, with eight class victories at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and a win at the Baja 1000 in 2004, breaks his smile.
“We didn’t make it. And I didn’t even know where I was going at that point. We came to a stop,” he says.
It was a rare standstill moment for the Porsche driver. Zwart famously drove a near-stock GT2 RS from his home in California to race at Pikes Peak in Colorado, blitzed the mountain’s 156-turn, 12.42-mile course in 11 minutes and drove it home; in total, about 1,100 miles. He’s piloted Porsches across Asia (from Moscow to Mongolia) and North America (Panama to Alaska). The man is constantly at speed.