Almost Too Much Porsche – Rennsport Reunion VI


Photos by Bruce Sweetman

Thursday, September 27—WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has been transformed into a one-marque Wunderland. Photomurals on fences and barriers portray Porsche’s 70-year racing history, and everywhere you turn you are greeted with the cars, the nomenclature, and the smiling faces of those who represent the marque. Welcome to Porsche-land.

The unique 1951 Sauter Roadster found a home in the Heritage Tent.
The 1972 Porsche 911 ST – #911 250 0335 heads a line-up of iconic 911s on a foggy Laguna Seca morning.

The cavernous Chopard Heritage Tent tells the story beginning with the aerodynamic 1939 Type 64 that Ferdinand proposed for a Berlin to Rome race. The silver sports racers, the 356 and 911 variants, the 917s, the all-conquering 962s, and the LMP2 Spyder that presaged Porsche’s return to the top wrung of sports car racing—all are on glorious display.  

Two 1961 356B Abarth Carreras were on display in the Heritage Tent.
This clever tonneau was in place when Jean Behra and Hans Herrmann drove this Typ 718-005 to 3rd place overall and first in 2.0-liter sports car class at Le Mans in June 1958.

If you had just arrived from another planet, witnessed this display, and noted all the race cars being prepared in the paddock and ripping round the circuit in seven distinct run groups you might surmise that Porsche’s singular reason for existence is racing.

Mark Eskuche in his 1958 356A Speedster #58, leads George Balbach in his 1961 356B Roadster #134, and Andrew Larson in his 1961 356B T5 Roadster, towards the Corkscrew.
Sandra McNeil swoops into the corkscrew in her 1964 Typ 904 GTS.
Dennis Singleton carves tightly through the upper Corkscrew in his 1968 Typ 911 T/R.
History leads history as Jeff Wysard steers his 1952 Glöckler Spyder #44 through turn 2 just ahead of Cameron Healey driving his 1952 Porsche-powered Cooper, the “Pooper.”
Wayne Baker works his 44-horsepower 1951 Typ 365 through the lower Corkscrew.
George Follmer’s 1972 Can-Am championship winning 917/10 stirred memories as it stirred up blood pressure with its stunning sound.
Pink limousines (Panameras) ferried folks up the hill to the Corkscrew.

Then you’d notice the sleek limousines (Panameras) ferrying spectators up the hill to the Corkscrew. And a walk over the pedestrian bridge to the Porsche Corral would reveal a thousand and more cars bearing Porsche design curves and wearing the distinctive crest. Pretty soon you too would be immersed, body and soul, in the culture that is Porsche.

“This is Vic Elford’s car!” shouted an admiring fan while examining one of the racecars in the Heritage Tent. Just outside, a line of R Gruppe 911s and 356 Outlaws revved their engines and prepared to take to the track. “The smell is intoxicating,” yelled Porsche designer Grant Larson over the engines’ roar. “It gives me energy!”

Singer/songwriter/musician John Oates hustles his just-completed Emory outlaw through turn 5.
Cameron Healy, in his 908/3, chases Bruce Canepa’s1969 917K through the Corkscrew during the Werks Trophy feature race.
Racer Patrick Long knows his way around this track well enough to set Sunday’s fastest time in the Group 4 Weissach Cup driving the 1983 Porsche Fabcar 935. His time: 1:31.1.
Thomas Gruber enjoys his Brumos-livery 1971 Typ 914/6 heading towards turn 6.
Inside his wildly painted 1977 Typ 935, Gary Emory’s simple white helmet is a visual surprise.
Gunnar Jeannette’s wildly painted helmet stands out in the central cockpit of his 1969 Typ 908 Spyder. He ran away from the field to take the Werks Trophy race win.
Above, not far from the racetrack, the 356 Registry staged its own reunion in a Carmel community park. It provided a quiet opportunity to meet, greet, and see friends and beautiful automobiles.
Speaking of beautiful automobiles, this Typ 356B T6 was beautifully presented.
Jerry Peters took an opportunity to talk to a friend about his Double-Bubble outlaw. Below: Looking a bit out-of-place in so calm and quiet an environment, this Speedster appears race-ready for the 1950s.
Track ready–back in the day.
Subtly lowered, slightly wider tires, a few other personal touches and this 356B coupe expressed sublime understatement.
All that glitters – especially under a fine patina of dust – just MAY be gold, as this interesting B coupe hints.

The weekend’s activities—racing, autograph signings, exhibition laps, new-car debuts, and evening concerts—ran like clockwork. And all was accompanied by the near constant sound of chuffing turbos and screaming naturally aspirated boxer engines as racecars circulated the track at full song. Reliability was a given, very few wheels were put wrong, and a Porsche won every race—including the one involving 17 tractors.

Gunnar Racing painted their Porsche tractor in the scheme of the notorious 1971 917/20 Le Mans coupe known as the Pink Pig. To take the joke even further, they brought along a brood of pink piglets and a tidy sty for them.
Some classic cars sport hood ornaments. Mark Pribanic’s well-travelled 356 hosts a surfer antenna ornament.
For those who simply couldn’t let go of the day, Porsche hosted an evening concert that featured Bob Weir, Dhani Harrison, and members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers band.

Fans and participants went home every night totally spent from the excitement, the excursion, and the noise. And every morning they returned early to the take the only antidote for their condition: more Porsche.

Above and below: The back ends of Porsches always have been as distinctive as the fronts as on these Boxsters and GT3s and on the 1951 coupe.
A pretty ’51 was parked unattended in the corral.

During the final race on Sunday diehards hung on every last racer cresting the hill at the top of the circuit and diving into Corkscrew even as fans dispersed to distant parking areas. Those who made their way to a generic family hauler or rental car departed with ears buzzing, minds still spinning with track inertia, and a certain listlessness. Those who slipped behind the wheel of a Porsche found it easier to merge onto life’s highways as they ran through the gears and hugged the apexes. In the end, almost too much was just enough.

Gmund Cup cars warm down during a full course caution.

latest from rs insights

stay up to date.

Get RS Insights sent to your e-mail monthly.