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 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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.