The Brumos Collection Offers Classic Car Enthusiasts a Reason to Visit Jacksonville, Florida
By Jim Motavalli
Oct. 10, 2023
In 1953, Hubert Brundage, an amateur racer, established Brundage Motors in Jacksonville, Florida, becoming an importer of VWs and Porsches—an operation that would eventually be known as Brumos.
Brandon Starks is executive director of the Brumos Collection, a Jacksonville-based tribute to American racing history. He tells Penta that, in 1965, the Harvard-educated Peter Gregg—an even more enthusiastic racer—bought Brundage’s Porsche dealership and by 1967, was racing Porsche 911s in Trans Am, winning six times. But in an epic 1969 meeting, Gregg got beaten in a local race by a teenager named Hurley Haywood—who was driving a Corvette. Gregg was impressed and told the kid to keep in touch, and they did. With Brumos, Haywood and Gregg came eighth overall and first in class at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen in New York. But it wasn’t until after Haywood’s turn of duty in Vietnam that the partnership really took off. Together, they won the 24 Hours of Daytona four times. Haywood actually won both Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year—the first to do that. Gregg only competed until 1980, when a road accident in France caused vision problems and ended his racing days.
Brumos’ last competition was at Road Atlanta in 2013, and the dealership was sold late in 2015 to the Field Automotive Group. Starks explains that the collection had been private and by invitation only, but after the sale it needed a new public-facing home.
Now, the setting is spectacular: a two-story 35,000-square-foot building that’s somewhat reminiscent of the historic Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg facility in Auburn, Indiana, though it’s a brand-new structure set on park-like grounds. It’s also eat-off-the-floor clean and accessible—you can walk all around the cars. Each one has a screen with a well-written and comprehensive history, not only of that particular car, but also its milieu.
The collection is far more than just a collection of the Brumos racers. It’s a history lesson in track competition, mostly American (Miller is featured) but with some French entries from the early days, too. Here’s some of what’s on offer:
1894 Peugeot Type 5
This was one of the world’s first race cars, and took part in the 79-mile Paris to Rouen competition sponsored by Le Petit Journal at a time when horseless carriages were a novelty. Contestants lined up to enter vehicles powered by compressed air, gravity, and clockwork—though many didn’t actually show up. The celebrated Count Jules-Albert de Dion was the winner in a steam car, at an average speed of 12 miles per hour. The Peugeot came in 11th place.
1910 Lion Peugeot V2YZ Voiturette Sport
This two-cylinder, 16-horsepower car was developed from racers and was pretty rakish for its day. Some 300 were built in four body styles.
1914 Peugeot L45
This was the world’s first racing car with a dual overhead-cam engine, a configuration which, of course, became common. Four were shipped to the U.S. One Peugeot pilot was Jules Goux, a World War I hero and the first foreigner to win the Indianapolis 500. It’s hard to imagine this today, but he consumed four bottles of champagne during the race, and remarked: “Without the good wine, I would have not been able to win.” The car on exhibit was very handsome with its right-hand drive, boattail, and dark blue paint.
1917 Miller Golden Submarine
This is a true milestone car in American motoring history as the first successful enclosed racer. The general view was that such cars were unsafe, because survivability was better when thrown clear of the wreckage. The poor thing got labeled “Stinkbug” and “Golden Egg,” but its aerodynamic superiority is clear. Fred Miller was known for his elegant racing cars, with jewel-like and technologically advanced engines, including this example’s single overhead-cam four-cylinder. The Golden Submarine was championed by the most famous racer of his day, Barney Oldfield, who took the car to 17 wins in 35 starts. At the Chicago War Derby, he hit 107.4 mph in qualifying. But then the car lost a wheel, and ended up in a lake. Later, the gas tank got punctured and it burned spectacularly, with Oldfield barely escaping. Hence, the need for a replica.
1920 Miller TNT
This is the oldest-surviving Miller car, powered by a 289-cubic-inch double overhead-cam engine after the French design. It was owned by beer baron Edward Maier, who eventually lost interest and hid the car away in his brewery. It turned up in the 1980s, engineless, at a Harrah collection auction. Bob Sutherland and Dave Hedrick restored it, and powered the old Miller with the 185-horsepower, 183-cubic-inch engine that it would have likely received had it remained in competition.
1968 Porsche 908
This car won the Nürburgring 1000 race that year, piloted by Vic Elford and Jo Siffert. That same year, Siffert also won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. In the 1,000-kilometer race, the 908 beat the very strong Ford GT40s of Ford v Ferrari fame.
1970 Porsche 9115
These little rear-engine, 2.5-liter flat-six-powered racers produced 200 horsepower. In the hands of Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood, this tangerine-colored car helped the team win titles in IMSA GT and SCCA Trans Am. Early Brumos Porsches were tangerine because it was Ferry Porsche’s favorite color, but the team eventually switched to white with red and blue stripes.
1975 Porsche 911 RSR
This is the car, piloted by John Graves, Dave Helmick, and Hurley Haywood, that won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1977. Though the turbo Porsche 935s were considered faster, Haywood was convinced they couldn’t go the distance and his Ecurie Escargot team instead campaigned this older model acquired from Peter Gregg. Haywood ended up driving all night and securing his third Daytona 24 Hours win in four years. Then, later that year, he won Le Mans teamed with Jacky Ickx.
2006 Brumos Racing Riley Porsche MK XI
This car won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2009 by 0.167 of a second, the closest-ever margin of victory in that race.
2011 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
At the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2012, Haywood’s team came in 13th. This is the last competitive race car to be run by Brumos.
The collection includes some very nice cars that are only tangentially connected to racing, and some that barely raced. There’s a 1930 Cord L29 town car with Murphy body that’s there because E.L. Cord bought Miller’s front-wheel-drive patents. The Cord was originally owned by actress Dolores Del Rio. A 1929 Murphy-bodied Model J Duesenberg had four original female owners. The Duesenberg brothers, of course, were famous racers.
The 1923 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif, built in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was owned by a stockbroker who could afford it—the cost was US$9,900 in 1923. The 1939 Alfa-Romeo 8C 2900B was one of only 12 known Touring Spiders. It went down to Argentina and briefly raced there before being separated from its elegant original body in Brazil. Decades later, they were reunited by collector Sam Mann. The 1985 Porsche 959 on display is the final prototype of that iconic model, a technological tour de force.
And, finally, the 1925 Bugatti Type 35, recently restored by Brumos and returned to its Bugatti blue color, was raced only once by its Standard Oil heir owner, Wallis Clinton Bird. After Bird’s death in a 1940 flying accident, it sat in the 27-car garage, alongside his Rolls-Royces, Hispano-Suiza and Stutz Bearcat, until it was bought for US$1,750 by early collector Austin Clark.
The museum also has display cases full of trophies, racing suits, photographs, models, and other evocative items. A display tells the story of America’s board tracks, which ruled the sport in the 1910s and 1920s, then disappeared completely. Although the cars look like static displays, they in fact get exercised regularly, Starks said. And there’s a Demo Day when racing fans can come out and see them run. “They were made to drive,” Starks says.