Porsche Rennsport Reunion, arguably one of the most staggering displays of single-marque automotive firepower ever assembled. Got your attention yet?
The brainchild of the late Bob Carlson, Porsche’s communications man in North America, and racing giant Brain Redman, Rennsport Reunion began 10 years ago at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut as a simple celebration of iconic Porsche racing machines. But the party quickly caught fire, and was repeated at Daytona International Speedway in 2004 and 2007.
This past weekend, the fourth iteration of this Porsche love-in unfolded under a typical mix of foggy and sunny skies at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca on the central California coast. Co-hosts for the festivities were well-known Porsche collector (and somewhat well-known comedian) Jerry Seinfeld, who brought some of his cars including the last air-cooled 993 to roll off the factory line in 1998, and Norbert Singer, the retired Porsche engineer who helped put many of Zuffenhausen’s creations in the winner’s circle.
Carlson would be proud; more than 300 race cars and 50 drivers from a range of decades thrilled hundreds of mostly male fans crowding Laguna Sega’s famously undulating track. Shrieking past were Porsche racing thoroughbreds as disparate as a 1973 911 RSR in Martini livery, the 1998 911 GT1 that won Le Mans that same year, and the 2007 911 GT3 Cup car that Jeff Zwart raced to the top of Pikes Peak in 2010. At the controls were storied Porsche drivers that included Derek Bell, Patrick Long, and three-time Daytona 24 Hours winner Hurley Haywood.
Although the previous three Rennsport Reunions were popular events, this latest edition may well have outdrawn those thanks to the fact that the three-day event unfolded in a market that’s particularly prized by Porsche brass.
“California is our biggest market and [we appreciate] the ability to reach our fans,” says Dave Engleman, Porsche communications manager, who hinted that whenever the next Rennsport gathering takes place it could once again find a home in Salinas, Calif.
He also noted that holding the event in the Golden State - a hotbed of Porsche enthusiasm since the first 356 Speedsters and 550 Spyders ripped around Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach - makes it easier to supplement the cars brought in from German museums with famous Porsches residing in regional collections.
While the emphasis at Rennsport is always squarely on vintage fare, Porsche made sure the faithful got a glimpse of its newest product, the next generation 911, dubbed the 991. Two new 911 Carrera Ss screamed through the raceway’s iconic Corkscrew turn by way of showcasing the company’s enduring commitment to racing.
But it was the old stuff that riveted fans, who crowded the parking lots with their own 911s, 914s, 356s and even a few modern race-series Caymans painted to match the livery of cars known simply by their numbers, such as the 935 and 917. The former pushed aerodynamic principles to new extremes in the late-’70s with a rear end so long (and white) it was known as Moby Dick; the latter needs little introduction beyond the fact that it starred alongside Steve McQueen in the actor’s fraught labor of racing-cinema love, Le Mans (1971). For a closer look at what was on display at Rennsport Reunion IV, click through the photo gallery.
- Brain Redman