Racers Reunited (Rennsport Reunion V)

I have been waiting to share this article I wrote and photos I took at Rennsport Reunion V down at Laguna Seca in Monterey. It appeared in the November edition of PorschePost (a UK magazine). I hope you enjoy reading it & looking at the photos. Merry Christmas!

Racers Reunited ~

(Rennsport Reunion V)

Laguna Seca was the place for Porsche fans to be in early September, with a glittering array of Stuttgart’s historic race cars and famous drivers brought together for the fifth Rennsport Reunion.

Report and photographs by Kristina Cilia

Porsche Rennsport Reunion V saw the celebration of the history of Porsche motorsport return to the renowned Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in northern California. Three days of legendary drivers, exhibits and activities – and not least some exciting track action commemorated more than 60 years of Porsche racing history. Sponsored by Porsche Cars North America, this year’s jubilee paid special tribute to Porsche’s achievements at Le Mans.

 

The racing festival, held over the weekend of 25th to 27th September, brought together Porsche enthusiasts from around the world. It also reunited an impressive collection of vintage and current race cars, with more than 60 past and present Porsche drivers, engineers and teams in one momentous meeting. This year’s Grand Marshals were two of Porsche’s most successful drivers: Belgian Jacky Ickx, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times, and American Hurley Haywood, who won the event on three occasions.

 

Three special cars were featured in the Porsche Paddock to highlight the theme of Legends of Le Mans. The 1949 356 SL was Porsche’s first factory entry at Le Mans, and outperformed all of its 1500cc competitors to win its class, and place 20th overall. Next to it was the 917 with chassis number 001. Although this particular car never competed, it represents the famous livery of the 917 that finished first at Le Mans in 1970, and put Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood into the history books. The third car, the number 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid, highlighted the company’s return to racing, earning it a first- and second place finish at Le Mans earlier this year, and giving Porsche a record-breaking 17th victory in the iconic event.

 

In addition, a number of important race cars had been brought in from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart: the 1971 917 LH, one of the fastest cars ever built, this long-tail version reaching over 240mph on the 3.7-mile Mulsanne Straight in 1971; the 1987 962, a 3.0-litre car introduced at Le Mans in 1987, which resulted in a sixth consecutive victory for the company; the 1995 WSC-95 Spyder, overall winner at Le Mans in 1995 and 1996, and the second time Porsche had consecutive victories in the same car; and not least the 1998 911 GT1-98, which brought the 16th and last victory for Porsche until 2015 in the 919 Hybrid.

 

The Porsche factory LMP1 team also made an appearance. Fresh from its victory at the Lone Star Grand Prix in Texas, the 919 Hybrid made several demonstration laps throughout the weekend. Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, the team’s newest Le Mans winners, were on hand, as well as other current factory drivers including Mark Webber, Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister.

 

The guest list also included many others whose names are rooted in Porsche motorsport history. Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann, first overall winners at Le Mans in 1970; Vic Elford, Monte Carlo Rally and 24 Hours of Daytona winner; Melanie Snow, team manager and driver for Snow Racing in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge, and class winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1999; Hartmut Kristen, retired vice-president of Porsche motorsport, and thus responsible for GT racing and the return of the Porsche factory GT teams to Le Mans. Derek Bell, John Fitzpatrick, John Horsman, Danny Sullivan, Jim Busby, Dennis Aase and many others were also on hand, making appearances and signing autographs over the weekend.

 

Porsche Club Great Britain was also represented at this fine event by two of its well-known members: Josh Sadler from independent specialist Autofarm in Oxfordshire, and Andy Prill from Prill Porsche Classics in Essex. The former had his 1970 911 ST crated up and flown to San Francisco, from whence he then drove it down to the famed track to compete in Group Three for the Eifel Trophy. Andy Prill drove a rare 1952 American Roadster 356 Heuer K/9-1, competing in Group Two for the Gmund Cup.

 

In addition, there were over 300 Porsche racing cars competing in seven race classes, ranging from pre-’A’ 356s to 991-model GT3 Cup cars vying for a top spot on the classic 2.238-mile, 11-turn course. Those who took part did so with a passion that embodies the Porsche spirit: these cars are meant to be driven.

 

Another must-see in the paddock was the Legends of Le Mans garage; highlighting 60 years of competition. This amazing display of cars, assembled from all over the world, was truly spectacular. The infield was just as exciting, with over 1400 Porsche road cars on display in their respective corrals, and vendors selling everything from parts to memorabilia showed up with plenty of eye candy for all Porsche enthusiasts. Momo even had Magnus Walker signing autographs as they launched his signature line of Prototipo steering wheels. Meanwhile, artist Nicolas Hunziker signed autographs alongside Vic Elford and Chad McQueen.

 

This weekend was definitely a sensory overload for all Porsche fans. It showed us, in no uncertain terms, how Porsche fanatics from all over the world so enthusiastically reunite and celebrate. Just another reminder that, as the old
saying goes, ‘There is no substitute’! PP

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