OURSLER: The Rambling Road
MONTEREY, Calif. — Imagine a gathering of 400 historic race cars in one place. Make that place Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the picturesque mountain top race track, and make all of those historic vehicles Porsches. What you get is Rennsport IV, the once-every-three -year tribute to the German sportscar makers’ legendary motorsport record.
For three days this past weekend Porsche enthusiasts came by the thousands to see and touch the vehicles and meet their drivers who wrote that legend. All of the three previous Rennsport events had been on the East Coast, the first at Lime Rock Park in Northwestern Connecticut, and the next two at the Daytona Int’l Speedway.
This time it was decided to shift the proceedings to the Pacific side of the continent, the theme of Rennsport IV being the celebration of the nearly five decade history of the Porsche 911 in motorsport.
But, while the Laguna Seca paddock was jammed full of 911 racers and their pure bred competition counterparts, starting with the earliest small displacement open topped Spyders of the 1950s which began the legend of the Zuffenhausen-based firm to the prototypes of the later years which have continued to add to it since, this year’s Rennsport was no museum display.
Instead, Rennsport IV was a full bore racing event. Almost every single Porsche present was driven on the track, and not gently, but hard — flat out — and in many cases by the famed professionals that took them to victory in the first place.
Included among those personalities were men such as George Follmer, who in 1972, after winning the SCCA Trans-Am crown in an AMC Javelin, stepped into Roger Penske’s turbocharged 1000 horsepower 917/10 Spyder and won the Can-Am title for himself and Porsche.
Likewise still displaying the skills that earned them victories in the Le Mans 24-Hour classic were Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann, who posted the German manufacturer’s first overall triumph with a 917 coupe at the affair, as well as Derek Bell and Jurgen Barth who stood atop the Le Mans podium in subsequent years.
And, if the roster of Porsche drivers read like a Who’s who of the sport, so too was the roster of the cars thundering around the track at speeds barely, diminished from those of the prime, if they were diminished at all. With 917s cheek-to cheek with 956 and 962 prototypes and surrounded by the like of a myriad of 911s, ranging from the factory’s 1965 Monte Carlo class winner, through the Carrera RS’ and RSRs of the 1970s, and their successors, the turbocharged 934 and 935s, it was history coming alive.
Rennsport IV was, in the end, a gourmet meal not to be forgotten for those in attendance.