2,000 Porsche racing cars in Laguna Seca

Wes Duenkel
Porsche Rennsport Reunion
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D he fifth Porsche Rennsport Reunion is initially under a bad star: Instead of a nostalgic party mood, the news tickers direct interest to the events surrounding the VW emissions scandal and the effects on the Porsche board of directors.

Porsche's Head of Research and Development Wolfgang Hatz, for example, actually wanted to travel to Laguna Seca, to celebrate the 17th overall victory at the Le Mans 24-hour race with the works team at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion. But the new incidents thwarted his travel plan.

The fans celebrate the racing successes of the Porsche brand

The 56-year-old, who is enthusiastic about motorsport, is absent from the presentation of the current winning car 919 and the GT Renner's 911 RSR with overall Le Mans winners Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy as well as their team-mates Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber who were successful at the last WEC round in Austin. The ex-Formula 1 driver from Australia, emotionally charged, is struggling for words: 'We don't know exactly what happened ourselves, but I believe that the absence of Wolfgang Hatz will not affect the use of our cars. '

With that, the personal details on the Porsche board in Laguna Seca have been dealt with: Thanks to the grace of Porsche, great racing successes are being celebrated properly. Around 320 historic racing cars from the Stuttgart-based company are used in six races, and the members of the Porsche Club of America, with 150,000 fans the largest brand club in the world, gather over 1,000 cars from the brand on their area.

The party can begin

Porsche America boss Detlef von Platen does not want to spoil the party mood given the bad news from Good old Germany : 'This is a paradise here,' he says, referring to the large number of top-class racing cars from Porsche.

'Such an event would probably not even be possible in Europe because this is the only place where you can get so many cars together 'says factory driver Jörg Bergmeister. The Langenfelder competes in many races in the USA.

Dave Engelman, who has experienced all the racing reunions, agrees with Bergmeister: 'For the reunion you need such a large base of club members and collectors, and there is only here in the USA. '

Laguna Seca - one of the most famous race tracks in the world

Yes the first reunion premiere2001 in Lime Rock was a great success, so that there wasn't enough space on the small racetrack. The next two events therefore took place in Daytona. But the track lacks flair with its large grandstands, so the Rennsport Reunion switched to California to the track, which is one of the most famous in the world thanks to its location in the mountains above the coastal city and the Corkscrew arcade.

The mountain-and-valley railway, opened in 1957, was one of the scenes of the spectacular Can-Am series: 'Up to 30 racing cars with up to 1,100 hp: the earth shook here,' recalls Klaus Bischof, who was then a racing mechanic worked in the works team.

Porsche 917K - most powerful racing car of all time

Today, this 1,100 hp racing car, which costs around two million euros, is driven by the Australian collector Peter Harburg, who owns the Turbo 917 Moved extremely cautiously: He has no chance against the 917K, all former cars of the J.-W.-Rennstalls.

Harburg's driving style cannot diminish the joy of the 50,000 spectators in his car. However, the racing car painted in blue, red and yellow is not Donohue's superior race car, but the one built by Porsche for a US dealer in 1979.

However, the legendary championship car can also be seen in Laguna Seca: It is part of the exhibition of around 60 racing cars in the paddock, the majority of which - in keeping with the motto of Rennsport Reunion - cars with a Le Mans history. The Porsche Museum is also showing a total of twelve cars in an exhibition and is also using a Porsche 962C in the race.

'We used this car until 1991 for all of the development work on the 962, including with the PDK transmission. it is the state of the art and a reference for the examples of this series ', explains Bischof.

Rolling Museum

In Laguna Seca, works driver Patrick Long starts with the 962-009 chassis, but has no chance against the younger RS ​​Spyder. Nonetheless, Long is very satisfied with the 962: 'The car is just perfect,' enthuses the 34-year-old US driver, who was three times ALMS GT champion.

The Porsche Spyder RS ​​take the race from: Cooper MacNeil from Il linois sets the pace in the formerly factory-supported car from 2006 in front of Gunnar Jeannette in the ex-car of a private team during training. But the racing results are, as a tradition at the Rennsport Reunion, more smoke and mirrors.

This is also expressed in the sometimes strange compilation of the starting fields: Michael Knebel has to put together in the small Elva Mk 7 Porsche from 1963 move out with the much more powerful Porsche 917 and 908.

But Knebel takes it easy: 'It doesn't matter, I just have to look in the mirror more often.' For the German Porsche specialist, it is much more important to have the racing car with theTo show the vertical shaft four-cylinder in the USA.

'The car is much better known here than in Europe,' he reports. In 1963 Bill Wuesthoff and Augie Pabst won a long-distance race in Road America with this Elva. The yellow racer with plastic body has been owned by Knebel's family since 1982.

Fireproof insert

Like Michael Knebel also uses Jürgen Barth's reunion to race, before and after the autograph sessions with many driver legends, the 1977 Le Mans winner slips into his fireproof racing overalls. Incidentally, Porsche fans wait in endless lines for the long-awaited signature hours.

'It's a little stressful,' he says, but immediately puts on a satisfied smile. As in the 1970s, Barth controls GT models of the 911 family, including the orange RSR in Jägermeister paintwork. The Kremer team from Cologne built the car and used it in the German racing championship.

The pithy, smoky six-cylinder simply sounds bombastic to the fans, like an unforgettable evergreen that can still be found after more than 30 years likes to hum along. In addition, the hot California sun colors the sandy-brown hills around the legendary course in paradisiacal gold.


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