Gaspare Fasulo’s Unlikely Path to Porsche Whispering

Sean Smith

How does a young boy living in Sicily become interested in Porsches? How does he grow up to become a master Porsche mechanic? 

The Targa Florio.

Gaspare Fasulo was born on the island of Sicily in a little town south of Palermo, Castellammare Del Golfo, population 3000. His father was an automotive machinist, and two uncles were mechanics. Fasulo’s little hometown didn’t have much in the way of exotic cars—mostly Fiats, some Lancias puttering about, and every now and then, an Alfa. 

Every year, however, the Targa Florio came to town. This was a big occasion. Fasulo’s father would put on his best suit, his mother would put on a pretty dress, they’d put young Gaspare in his finest outfit, and off they would go to witness the howling parade of race cars laying siege to their town as they lapped the island.

You might think a Sicilian would be cheering on the machines from the mainland, but it wasn’t the Ferrari Dino 206S, the 250 LM, or even the Alfa Romeo T33/2 that captured young Fasulo’s imagination. It was the Porsches. It’s not that he didn’t care for the Italian cars—in fact, he loved them—but they just didn’t inspire him like the screaming 911s, 910s, and 907s. To see a 907 back then flashing past you, inches away, was like seeing a spaceship today. There was just something about the sound and the looks that got under the boy’s skin, and it would stay with him.

Gaspare Fasulo was still young when he and his family arrived in the United States in 1974. The first picture that graced the 7-year-old’s bedroom wall was of a Porsche 911, and it stayed there for years.

Gaspare Fasulo Ferrari Dino shop
Courtesy Gaspare Fasulo

His father’s uncle had come to America ahead of them and had started an Alfa Romeo shop in Brooklyn, called Autodelta. This was where the family worked. By the time Fasulo was in junior high school, he was hanging around the shop, and by high school he was working there in the afternoons, as long as he promised his mother that all his schoolwork was done. He’d tell her it was complete so that he could get over to the shop, but his schoolwork mostly got done late at night. And he was always at the shop on Saturdays, honing his mechanical chops and learning everything there was to know about Alfas. But his true love was still Porsche.

At the age of 15, before he could even drive, Fasulo bought his first Porsche, a 1966 912. A buddy of his had told him about the car. The 912 had been languishing in a body shop in Coney Island for years, the subject of a restoration gone bad. Fasulo took a peek and put down eight grand for the car—big money for a 15-year-old, but he had earned it. The car was in pieces: The fenders were off, the glass and interior were out, the engine and transmission were on the floor, and there was some missing hardware, but Fasulo knew he could take it on, and he proceeded to put the car back together mechanically.

While he was reviving the 912, a buddy told him about a shop in Elmsford, New York, called Rennwerke, that specialized in Porsche repair. Fasulo made up a detailed list of what he was missing for his build and took a drive up to Westchester.

At the shop, he met with John “Cheech” Fernandes. Fasulo handed over his list of parts. Cheech took a look at the youngster and they talked about the project as Cheech got him his parts. “If you need anything else,” Cheech said, “let me know.”

Fasulo spent the next year or so working on the 912 as time allowed, then took another ride back out to Westchester, this time with a stack of Polaroids, to show the car’s progress to Cheech. Cheech was impressed at what the kid had achieved. As he left, Cheech wished him luck, but Fasulo got the sense that Cheech didn’t think he would ever finish the build. But the next time Fasulo went up to Elmsford, he arrived in his newly restored Porsche. Cheech was impressed.

“If you want to work for me part-time or on the weekends,” Cheech told him, “I always need good help.” Fasulo  stayed at Autodelta, but he and Cheech remained friends. He kept buying parts from Rennwerke, and in the mid-1980s, at age 18, he finally jumped ship to go work there. 

Gaspare Fasulo Porsche engines
Fasulo during his first stint at Rennwerke.Courtesy Gaspare Fasulo

He started at the bottom, worked his way up, and was a fixture of the Rennwerke shop until 2000, when he left to go work for DeMan Motorsport in Nyack, New York. There Fasulo learned a great deal about race cars, race prep, and tuning engines on a dyno, and he spent more and more time at race tracks. By now he was married, and a daughter came along, and then another. But he was hardly ever home. He would leave early in the morning and arrive home late at night, and he never had a chance to see his children. Things had to change. In 2004 he found his way back to Rennwerke and was there for the next 10 years. The family even moved from Brooklyn to Westchester in 2007 in order to shorten his commute. 

During his second stint at Rennwerke, Fasulo was introduced to car dealer Chris Turner by Turner’s long-time friend and fellow dealer Mark Starr, of Hunting Ridge Motors. Turner wanted work done on his underperforming 964 RS, so Gaspare went through it, gave it his magic touch, and gave Turner back a different car.

Turner was so thrilled he told Starr he didn’t want anyone else working on his cars. This was the start of a long line of Turner’s Porsches coming into Fasulo’s care, along with other air-cooled models that Turner and Starr bought together to sell.

Finally, however, Fasulo came to an impasse. Things were no longer working out in his second go at Rennwerke, and it was time for a change. He left in 2017, began planning for the future, and went searching for space.

In the meantime, Chris Turner showed up at Rennwerke to check on one of his cars and was told Fasulo no longer worked there. Turner immediately got in touch to see what the problem was. “I’m starting my own shop,” Fasulo told him.

Turner asked Gaspare to come to see him the next day before he did anything. He owned a number of dealerships—surely Fasulo could come work for him. So they toured Turner’s McLaren dealership, but it didn’t seem the right fit, and there really wasn’t enough space for Fasulo to work. Turner then took him to his Lamborghini dealership, where he led him into a brand-new shop: The front half was for the Italian machines, and the back half was being used for prep, but it could become Fasulo’s domain. Five lifts, LED lighting, tile floor, A/C, two garage doors, the works.

Gaspare Fasulo in Gaswerks shop
Sean Smith

Fasulo was interested, and Turner told him, “If we’re going to do this, you must come up with a name. It’s going to be your shop. You’re going to run it, so you name it.” Turner was ready to move and make things official. Gaspare Fasulo gave it some thought and then took his name and the German word for “work”: Gaswerks. The logo is derived from a 911 crankshaft pulley; if you look closely, you can see the TDC marks and the timing marks.

And like that, Turner had his own in-house air-cooled guru to take care of his machines, but the word got out about where Fasulo had gone, and within the first week of opening, there were 911s and 356s waiting for the master’s touch.

Gaspare Fasulo with crew at Gaswerks shop
Fasulo (second from left) with the Gaswerks crew.Sean Smith

To keep up with demand, Fasulo surrounded himself with techs who had the same mindset, passion, and drive as he did. He and his team make Porsches sing, and they’re given the freedom to create some special machines, like a 911R recreation, a 914/6 GT tribute, and the car Turner always wanted to build—a 934 clone. Turner dreams it, he and Fasulo sit down together and design it, then Fasulo and his team make it a reality.

Five years in, Gaswerks is humming right along, always busy with service work and special builds, and Turner and Fasulo take time to run their creations in rallies and on track. The eventual plan is to separate Gaswerks from the Lamborghini dealership to create a standalone facility, with a proprietary engine room, a service area, a showroom, and fewer interruptions.

Over the years, Fasulo has worked with and learned from some great people, and most of his knowledge doesn’t rely on a computer to tell him what’s wrong. He’s been able to share that personal knowledge along the way. Case in point: A rough-running 911 came into Gaswerks. One of his techs was trying to figure out how he would start the diagnoses to determine which cylinder wasn’t firing. “I showed him the simplest method possible that I learned from an old drag racer I worked with,” Fasulo says. “I filled a spray bottle full of cold, soapy water and warmed up the car. We went under the car and I had my tech start spraying the header tubes. The first one sizzled when sprayed, the second one as well, but the third didn’t, and the rest did. Bingo, we found the bad cylinder.” No electronic gizmos required.

“You have to be mentally in tune with the car,” Fasulo adds. But even with all his knowledge, he still hits the books. He goes home and does deep dives into technical manuals to learn all the ins and outs—the minutiae—of all things automotive generally and Porsche specifically.

In 1988, after Fasulo sold that 912 of his, he picked up a 1975 2.7 Targa with a Sportomatic. It was not a great car, but because he can never leave anything alone, he took out the automatic and put a five-speed in its place. He also swapped out the 2.7 for a 3.2. This was not something normally done 30 years ago, but for Fasulo, it was natural. His next car was a black-on-black ’88 Carrera cabriolet. He replaced the stock exhaust with a hideously loud muffler. “My ears would be ringing after a short drive, and my neighbors hated me!” He wishes he could go back in time and tell young Gaspare what to do sometimes.

Ruf Porsche 930 Gaspare Fasulo profile
Fasulo in his Ruf 930.Courtesy Gaspare Fasulo

Next came a Ruf 930, purchased because he wanted something with power and boost. Eventually he rebuilt the powertrain, and it is still in his collection. These days, to satisfy his urge to go fast, he runs a 997 GT3 Cup car in Porsche Club of America races. But when he’s looking for a change of pace on track, Fasulo gets behind the wheel of Turner’s Porsche-powered Sabel fiberglass special, or his VW Empi Crusader. And when he really wants to get back to his roots, he races a 912 in the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. He knows that going fast is cool, but going fast in a slow car is cooler.

That first 912 was the car that started Gaspare Fasulo down a lifelong path. All his friends were into muscle cars and didn’t understand his attraction to the little German machine. The engine was small. It was in the wrong place. They didn’t get it, but he did.


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    As the original owner of my 1981 911SC living in Westchester, NY, how did I not know of this man? I knew Cheech, DeMan, Mark Starr (RIP) and was always looking for someone good to work on my car.

    Sean Smith has written a very riveting story about a passionate young man who has continued his lifetime interest in Porsche’. Lots of heart-felt structure to the story. This is the type of writings I love reading. Well done Sean and Hagertys.

    What a great story by Mr Smith! Heartwarming yet technically scintillating n so interesting… bravo to both author n accomplished subject!👍🏻🙌

    What a great and entertaining story, well written too. Young boy follows his dream & backs it up with hard work , persistence, and consistency. Makes a lot of friends along the way as well. What a journey and what a story. Thank you.

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