Rennsport Reunion VI – Part 1.

Rennsport Reunion was undoubtedly one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. We’ve divided it into a two-part feature in order to do it justice. Start reading now! 

I don’t know where to begin.

It’s two days after Rennsport Reunion VI ended, and my brain is still struggling to readjust to daily life. Four days of automobile extravaganza from the boys in Stuttgart will do that to anyone, and try as I may, every single superlative that I use to describe my time at the Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey over the past weekend, ends up falling painfully short. Regardless I will soldier on, in the interest of you, our dear readers.

Thursday

The plan was to cruise up to Monterey with a few friends and 8 a.m. found us on the 101 making good time. As we progressed northward, temperatures fell, and the sun got hidden by the ocean mist. Merging with the Pacific Coast Highway at a few points, we got to admire the beautiful California coastline, before stopping for a quick brunch in San Luis Obispo. The early afternoon found us on the road again, on a rural highway through the relatively open countryside. The miles ticked over rapidly on the odometer and we got to Laguna Seca Raceway at about 3 p.m., only to hear the sound of racecars. We had arrived at Rennsport Reunion VI.

After making sure my ticket was in order, I walked around the paddock and the vendors’ stalls, seeing a number of familiar faces. 000 Magazine, Luftgekuhlt, Mobil1, TAG Motorsports, Rasant Products, Carbone Liveries and Hunziker Design all had their own stalls, among others. Having said hello to those I knew, I crossed the Michelin bridge to the other paddock area where all the racecars were located. A couple of turns later, I found myself under a canopy as a very earnest Rod Emory explained the intricacies of chassis twist to a few attentive spectators.

I had made a conscious decision to leave my camera in my bags, so that I could take in the atmosphere of the event and it did not disappoint. There was a certain electricity in the air, as cars rolled through the paddock, mechanics rushed to prep motors for the next day and Porsche fans filled in any gaps, marshalled by race officials.

I also got to meet Tony and Jay Sottile, who I’d be staying with for the next few days. Having gotten ourselves sorted in terms of accommodation, we drove into Carmel by the Sea for an informal soiree put on by members of the R Gruppe. While I won’t go into detail about the events of the evening, it was a boisterous affair as is typical of most passionate Porsche enthusiasts. Eventually, the day’s activities caught up with us and we retired for the night.

Friday

Monterey weather is completely unlike anything I’ve seen before. Foggy and cold, it provides a very different set of conditions from what you’d find in SoCal, for example. On the flip side, it’s the kind of weather that aircooled cars love and so I didn’t really have any right to complain. With that weather forecast for the rest of the day, I grabbed all my gear and got to the track by 9 a.m. Leaving the Corral, I spotted 997s and 964s fighting in tight formation on track, wearing their battle liveries with their unsilenced flat-six notes reverberating off every single surface around Laguna Seca.

I really wanted to explore a number of different vantage points at Laguna Seca, a track I’d never been to before. To that end, I walked from corner to corner and eventually turned toward the infamous Corkscrew. Fifteen minutes and a lot of huffing and puffing later, I reached the corner I was looking for and understood why it was feared and respected in equal measure.

The elevation changes and the twisting asphalt required an extremely considered approach. Go in too hot and it would be very conceivable to catch air. In a racecar, at race speeds, that would end rather badly indeed. Regardless, it made for great viewing as the 962s flew past, their gold BBS wheels providing a welcome contrast against the gaudy liveries they wore.

A short while later, they transitioned into longhood cars and 914s, flying past at full chat and almost going sideways at the kink at the bottom of the Corkscrew. Indeed, it was amusing to watch the way the drivers committed to taking said corner. Four, five and six thousand revolutions per minute were quickly passed as the drivers buried their collective race boots into the throttle pedal, trying to get up to speed. A blur of baby blue, bright orange, dark green, white, gold and Guards Red turned into a kaleidoscope of colors as the race progressed. Braaaaaaappppp!!!

As I chased the cars with my camera, my shutter hammering away incessantly, I couldn’t help but chuckle. This was racing at its purest form: sportscars modified be at their lightest and fastest, flying around a track as quickly as their drivers dared to take them, keeping alive the very traditions of vintage motorsport.

Of course, there was more to it. Imagine my surprise as I stood at the final corner that turned into the main straight and watched a 906 come around the corner perfectly, only for the driver to deftly go into a controlled drift before straightening out. It was clear for all that it had been a deliberate move to please the crowds and it had succeeded. A Porsche 906 going sideways purposely, where else do you get to see that? Such was the magic of Rennsport!

The 906 was quickly followed by the Gulf 917K, tracing its perfect line around Laguna Seca, much to the pleasure of the spectators in the grandstands. Whether you’ve watched Le Mans (the movie), or are just a fan of the Gulf livery, the 917K is a legend on wheels and watching it tear up the track was a rare privilege.

The rest of the day was spent with friends in the paddocks, wandering through the numerous cars and the vendors who were doing their bit to foster Porsche culture for the coming generations. Flags, T-shirts, parts, fully-built motors, stickers and steering wheels were only some of the products on sale. After a while, I joined the Benton crew at their camping spot across from the Corkscrew, where we were able to catch the rest of the racing with the company of a much-needed log fire.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which drops on Friday!

 

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