Klaus Graf is retired racing driver from Germany who was active between 1991 and 2016, achieving the most in sports car racing. A peak of his career were two American Le Mans Series titles in 2012 and 2013, when he was driving an HPD ARX-03 prototype for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing together with Lucas Luhr. Earlier in a career, Graf was 2005 Trans-Am champion and 1993 German Formula Ford champion.
German Formula Ford champion early in a career
Klaus Graf was born on July 21, 1969, in Dornham, Germany. He started racing career in 1991, entering the German Formula Ford 1600 championship. The first success came in 1993 when he became the Formula Ford 1800 champion as a member of the Walter Lechner Racing School.
Third place in the German Carrera Cup
Next year, Graf progressed to the German Formula 3 championship. He spent three seasons in Formula 3 without any notable result. In 1997, Graf changed a racing discipline, entering the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. He finished a season in the third place, behind Wolfgang Land and Horst Farnbacher.
American Le Mans Series debut in 1999
Klaus started his sports car racing career in 1998, participating in several races of the International Sports Racing Series. In two races, he was driving Ferrari 333 SP for GTC Lanzante Motorsport. In the third race, he joined SMR Bavaria Sportscar Team to drive their SMR-BMW Evo 98/2 prototype.
Two Le Mans attempts with Panoz prototypes
In June 2000, Graf participated for the first time at 24 hours of Le Mans. He was driving a Panoz LMP-1 prototype for Team Den Blå Avis from Denmark, together with John Nielsen and Mauro Baldi. After 24 hours and 205 laps of racing, they were out of the final classification. Until the rest of the season, Graf participated in several ALMS and Sports Racing World Cup event with Panoz prototypes.
In 2001, Graf returned to Le Mans with Panoz factory team, sharing the #11 Panoz LMP07 with Jamie Davies and Gary Formato. They retired after 86 laps.
2001 – first full season in the American Le Mans Series
In 2001, Graf spent his first full season in the American Le Mans Series. He was driving for Panoz Motorsports. His co-driver for most of the season was Franck Lagorce. Their best result in the #51 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S was fourth place at Grand Prix of Portland. At the end of the season, Graf was 14th in the final standings of the LMP900 class.
Two seasons in Porsche competitions
In 2002, Graf was out of racing, returning to race tracks in 2003. He participated both in the Porsche Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. He was 8th in the Supercup and 11th in the German Carrera Cup. Next year, he was driving for Tolimit Motorsport in the Porsche Supercup only, finishing in the 9th place with three podiums.
One-off NASCAR experience at Infineon Raceway
In 2004, Graf also recorded a unique one-off experience in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. In June, he qualified for Dodge/Savemart 350 race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, driving the #59 Dodge for BAM Racing. Graf finished in 17th place. Later in the season, he failed to qualify for two more NASCAR races at Watkins Glen and Martinsville Speedway.
Graf returned to NASCAR three years later, trying to qualify for Sonoma and Watkins Glen races with BAM Racing, but his attempts failed.
Trans-Am Series champion in 2005
Klaus Graf's diverse career continued in 2005 with his participation in the Trans-Am Road Racing Series. He was driving Jaguar XKR for Rocketsports Racing. Graf won four of nine races to became the first Trans-Am champion born outside the United States since David Hobbs in 1983.
He won the championship ahead of Randy Ruhlman and Greg Pickett. A few years later, Graf joined Pickett in his team and achieved the greatest results in his career.
Graf joined Greg Pickett's team in 2007
In 2006, Graf continued a career in the American Le Mans Series, driving a Porsche 996 GT3-RSR for Alex Job Racing in the GT2 class. His full-time co-driver was Mike Rockenfeller. With one victory, at Houston, Graf finished 15th in the points.
In 2007, Greg Pickett founded a racing team and Klaus Graf joined him to drive the #06 Team Cytosport Lola B06/14 in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series. Pickett himself was his co-driver. With four podiums, Graf finished 8th in the points.
Return to Le Mans 24 hours in 2008
After skipping Le Mans 24-hour race for six years, Graf returned to Circuit de la Sarthe in 2008. Charouz Racing System and Team Cytosport entered the race with #12 Lola B07/17-Judd. The drivers were Klaus Graf, Greg Pickett and Jan Lammers. They retired after 146 laps.
For the rest of the season, Graf was driving Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototype for Team Cytosport in the American Le Mans Series, finishing in the third place of the final standings. He also appeared in two Trans-Am races with Pickett Racing's Jaguar XKR, winning both races.
ALMS runner-up for two years in a row
In 2010, the most successful period of Klaus Graf's career started. The season started with an LMP2 class victory at Sebring 12 hours in the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport's Porsche RS Spyder. Graf's co-drivers were Greg Pickett and Sascha Maassen. At the end of the season, Graf was second in the championship, behind Highcroft Racing's David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud.
Two consecutive ALMS titles for Graf and Luhr
In 2012, Graf finally became the American Le Mans Series champion. He and Lucas Luhr were driving the #6 HPD ARX-03a for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. In ten races, they scored six wins and nine podiums to win a title ahead of last year's winners Dyson and Smith.
Graf and Luhr captured back-to-back ALMS title in 2013. They won eight of ten races in the #6 HPD ARX-03 to dominantly take the winners' trophy.
Three more seasons in European endurance races
With two ALMS trophies in his hands, Graf ended a professional career in North America, returning only to Daytona and Sebring in 2014. He was driving Oreca 03-Nissan for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, finishing fifth at Daytona and retiring at Sebring.
Between 2014 and 2016, Graf competed occasionally in European endurance races, particularly at Nurburgring Nordschleife's VLN Endurance Series and 24-hour race. Previously, he gained a success at Nurburgring 24 hours in 2013, finishing in the third place with a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Rowe Racing. Graf stayed with Rowe Racing until 2016, when the team switched to BMW M6 GT3.