Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

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I went to a Marker Dedication and a Car Show Broke Out

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I think it is safe to say that the dedication of the new Pennsylvania Historical Marker for Holbert Racing had the most impressive (and expensive) parking lot that has ever existed at a historical marker dedication.

Porsche enthusiasts and motor heads from multiple states left their daily drivers at home and came to Warrington, Bucks County this past October to see the reunion of the Holbert Racing Team, honor Bob and Al Holbert, and have a chance to ogle one another’s cars.

Larry Holbert speaking at Holbert Racing marker dedication ceremony, October 2021.

The Holbert family patriarch, Bob Holbert, owned one of the first Volkswagen-Porsche dealerships in the United States.

In the late 1940s, he opened his first garage at the northwest corner of Easton Road (Route 611) and Bristol Road, about 5 miles south of Doylestown. By 1951, he expanded his business and opened a dealership across the street, where the Pennsylvania Historical Marker for Holbert Racing was recently installed. 

Original dealership with racing parking spots in front of the historical marker, October 2021.

This is the location where he opened one of the first authorized Porsche dealers in the country in 1954, known as Holbert’s Porsche Volkswagen and Audi.

In the 1950s, Bob Holbert gained international attention by racing those Porsches, in both the United States and Europe, winning multiple times at Sebring Raceway, in Florida, and finishing first in class in the 24 hour race at LeMans, in France.  According to Peter Schwarzenbauer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, “Through his dealership and racing successes, Bob Holbert helped establish the Porsche brand in America.  He was a true American Porsche pioneer.”  In the 1960s, Bob Holbert also raced Shelby Cobras before he retired in 1964. Holbert died in 2007.

Shelby Cobra with original Holbert Racing garage stained glass sign, October 2021.

Bob sons, Larry Holbert and Al Holbert, followed in their father’s footsteps, both at home and abroad.  Larry and Al took over the management of the dealership in Bucks County from their father.  Larry managed the family dealership with his brother while Al also had an impressive racing career of his own.  Al won twice at Sebring and three times at the 24 hours at LeMans, the ultimate endurance test in the sport of auto racing. 

On October 2, 2021, the Holbert family and many former members of the Holbert Racing Team, including Bob’s son Larry and Al’s son Todd, dedicated Pennsylvania Historical Marker for Holbert Racing, located at the site of their family’s car dealership which doubled as the home of the Holbert Racing Team, to honor their family’s legacy and their grandfather, father, and brother. 

Three generations of the Holbert Racing family, October 2021.

The marker reads:

Holbert Racing was among the most successful teams in sports car racing history. Bob Holbert ran one of the first Porsche dealerships in the U.S. and began racing in 1953, driving Porsches to four SCCA National Championships. Son Al was a five-time IMSA GT Champion with a record 49 series wins and a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Porsches. He is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame. The team was based here until 1988.

Holbert Racing historical marker, October 2021.

Special thanks to the Warrington Historical Society, especially David Sharp (who is himself a Porsche owner and enthusiast), for their efforts in nominating this marker .

On a side note, though it may seem like an odd fit for an architectural historian like me, the Holbert Racing marker has a personal connection to my family’s history.  In the sport of racing, it does not get more opposite of the endurance required for a race like Le Mans than Drag Racing and Funny Cars.  My grandfather’s brother was the Funny Car Drag Racer “Jungle Jim” Liberman, who, it has been said, was the “greatest showman” in drag racing history.

Author: Jenna Solomon

Jenna Solomon is one of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office's National Register staff in the Preservation Services Division. She splits her time between reviewing historic properties for their eligibility or for their listing in the National Register of Historic Places and reviewing HUD funded projects for the Environmental Review Division. She is a native of Philadelphia and holds a Bachelor of Architectural History from the University of Virginia and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.

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