Lake Forest, IL — Horst Kwech, an especially versatile driver/engineer active in the 1960s and 1970s, best known for his pair of Under 2.5 Liter Trans Am championships driving an Alfa Romeo, has died at age 82.
Proud of his Australian heritage (he moved there at a young age from his Austria birthplace), Kwech emigrated to the U.S. in 1961 at age 24. A mechanic’s job at Knauz Continental Motors in Lake Forest, Ill., soon led to racing opportunities, first driving a tube frame sports racer of his own design, later in an Alfa Romeo Giulia with which he won the 1965 SCCA Central Division B Sedan championship.
The next year, Knauz Motors acquired a factory-prepared Alfa Romeo GTA with which Kwech and teammate Gaston Andrey claimed the Trans-Am Under 2.5 Liter manufacturers championship and Kwech used to win the SCCA Runoffs BS race at Riverside.
Over the next decade, Kwech would become one of America’s most celebrated GT drivers, forming (with Ron Neal and Bill Knauz) and racing for the Alfa Romeo performance parts company Ausca; testing and racing for Carroll Shelby (and winning the ’68 Riverside Trans-Am in a Shelby-prepared Mustang); winning the ’70 U2.5L Trans-Am Championship (driving Herb Wetanson’s Alfa GTA); racing a Lola T-300 in the ’72 L&M Continental Formula 5000 Championship; and, in ’74, co-founding DeKon Engineering with Lee Dykstra (which built the highly regarded Chevy Monza, successful in both IMSA Camel GT and Australian Supercar racing over the next several years).
Kwech was the only driver to win a Trans-Am race in both the Over and Under 2 liter divisions. He also held 17 patents as a design engineer.