2014’s California Festival of Speed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California has come and gone, and what an amazing weekend it was. For me, the anticipation had begun building on Friday, as I checked Instagram postings throughout the day, uploaded by friends already out at the track. The kicker was the video post of Patrick Long ( the sole American Porsche Factory team driver), behind the wheel of a certain Guards Red, 2014 Porsche Turbo S, with the owner recording Mr. Long’s skills behind the wheel.
Upon arriving at the event on Saturday morning, I ran into the owner of the Guards Red Porsche 991 Turbo S seen above, and she shared with me her previous days excitement at having Patrick Long behind the wheel of her car, and witnessing firsthand his skill and finesse for piloting a Porsche at speed, all on a cleared track for half a dozen laps. She then opened up the front trunk, revealing Patrick Long’s autograph, applied to the underside of the hood, to commemorate this rare opportunity (see below).
If one 991 Turbo S is good, then a pair is even better. Below, a second 991Turbo S on display, painted in the spectacular Sapphire Blue metallic.
Parked directly across from this pair, was another unique Porsche 991 that I have had the pleasure of shooting on multiple occasions. What sets this particular car apart from its 991 brethren, in addition to its aerokit cup package, is its unique color. As I shared in a previous postng, when the owners picked up their special order model at the Factory this past summer, they were informed that their car was the only Porsche 991 at that time to be painted Riviera Blue.
An amazing car from any view… and since I was literally at the entrance to Vendor row, it was time to check out what surprises. My first stop was at Dutchman Motorbikes, where Mark had his latest creations on display.
Next up was the Porsche Cars North America display, which on this weekend showcased their upcoming Experience Center, currently under construction in Carson, California. First up was the site map…
supported by the adjoining narrative graphic (seen below), highlighting the featured areas that will make up the test track portion of the Experience Center. According to the Porsche representatives on hand, the Experience Center is scheduled to open in 2015.
My next stop was just several displays down the row, and hosted by bbi Autosport. The featured vehicle on display was the GT3 Cup Car that they had prepared for 2013’s Pikes Peak race, piloted by Pikes Peak multiple class winning driver, Jeff Zwart.
After checking out all of the bbi Autosport goodies, it was time to go in search of my prime objective for the weekend; Porsche GT3 Cup Cars. So off I went to check out the three paddock garages, which would be home to the majority of the Cup Cars throughout the weekend.
As I rounded the corner of the first garage, imagine my surprise at encountering the Porsche seen below.
Unexpected, and a treat for all, provided by the folks at TruSpeed. One of Porsches most successful race cars of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s; the iconic Porsche 935 twin turbo. And in this case, the recently restored icon, as originally campaigned by the Interscope Racing team out of Newport Beach, California back in 1978.
But wait, there’s more. TruSpeed had another treasure tucked away in the garage, which Terry Brewer from their sales group was kind enough to show me, and shared that if I was interested, this GT3 Cup was for sale.
Parked on the opposite side of the garage was another collection of GT3 Cup cars, all in various stages of preparation, and being readied for an afternoons worth of track time.
An example of a Type 996 derived Porsche GT3 Cup car, rendered in classic stone gray with contrasting orange accents; a returning competitor from last years event.
Multiple examples of the newer 997 based GT3 Cup cars, as seen below, competing in the Pirelli GT3 Cup series.
Taking its turn on the corner balancing fixture (below).
Pirelli GT3 Cup cars, staged throughout all three of the garages.
A glimpse at a GT3 Cup motor, and its visually dominant horizontal air box…
Spare wheels and Pirelli racing tires at the ready…
Driver and team equipment taking a break.
One of several GMG prepared Porsches; undergoing preparation for its next on track session.
And one of the few, non Motorsports purposed Porsches found in the paddock area; a classic Porsche Junior tractor with trailer…
complete with info plaque.
My last stop before lunch was out to the trailer parking area in search of a particular Type 996 GT3 cup car; one that I had watched over Instagram posts in the days leading up to the event. The first post documented the car getting its new graphics treatment, while the second was a brief video shot on its return to its trailer, having completed its initial shakedown laps, piloted by its new owner.
Classic Porsche Motorsports issue: BBS modular, centerlock racing wheels.
After lunch, it was time to shift my focus towards track related activities. On tap was an afternoon of Porsche Club of America club racing sessions, bbi sponsored time trials and the Pirelli GT3 Cup race.
First up was one of several Porsche Club of America, club racing sessions. From my vantage point, camped out above the viewing area atop pit row, I could watch the different classes stage on the grid, and then be released out onto the track.
Staged and awaiting release onto the track…
heading out onto the track, prior to the line up for a rolling start.
In formation, and accelerating across the start / finish line; here come the Cup cars…
Below, a wolf in sheep’s clothing; if you look closely, you’ll see that this Porsche GT3 is not a GT3 Cup car, but instead the next model up on the Porsche competition vehicle list; the GT3 Cup cars big brother, the GT3R. After watching this car turning laps on the track, it became obvious as to the R’s performance advantage over the base model GT3 Cup.
More of the PCA club racing based, GT3 Cup cars.
As the checkered flag fell on this PCA Club race, the next event scheduled was the bbi sponsored time trial, and could be seen starting to queue up in the grid area. From my vantage point, perched in the viewing stands above pit row, I could watch the cars and the drivers last-minute preparations, prior to their release onto the track.
So with the assembled time trial groups release, it was time to focus on shooting some Porsche race cars at speed…
In regards to the Type 996 Porsche GT3 Cup car captured below, at the conclusion of the event on Sunday, while checking my Instagram feed, I learned that this Cup car had posted the top time of the day (TTD) in the time trial class. Not bad for this owners first competiton outing with his newly purchased GT3 Cup car. Congratulations Tom…
Once this time trial session had concluded, next up was what would be my last observed race for Saturday afternoon. And what a race to wrap up the afternoon with; the Pirelli GT3 Cup race. Being a huge fan of Porsche’s GT3 models, and even more so of the GT3 Cup car variants, this race turned out to be one of my favorites of the day.
Below, final staging underway for the last of the Pirelli GT3 Cup races for the afternoon, and Porsche GT3 Cup cars as far as the eye could see.
Then with a blast from the grid marshal’s whistle, the Cup cars roared to life and began their single file trek towards the track entrance portal. With a collective roar, the group was off on their formation lap, and by the time all had arrived at turn 20, they were aligned in rows two by two, with the pole sitting Porsche GT3 Cup car (#17) setting the pace. After crossing the start / finish line, #17 immediately began opening up a lead over the second placed GT3.
The following images represent a small sampling of the different GT3 Cup cars competing in the Pirelli GT3 Cup car, race #2 on Saturday…
As seen below, the winning Porsche from the PirellI GT3 Cup race #2.
As I made my way through the garage parking area, headed out towards the Porsche parking corral, a flash of light caught my eye. After stopping to take a closer look, I realized the flash had been created by a reflection, and an interesting one at that. Parked immediately behind the car hauler, was the vehicle generating the reflection and source of the flash; a pristine white Porsche type 997 GT3RS, and a fitting subject for my last photos of the day.
Low key and discreet, with the only hint to the cars true potential being the subtle green graphics, applied onto the lower leading edge of each door.
Here sat another example of Porsches continued pursuit of excellence; a street car that can deliver race car levels of performance, due to technologies developed from competition, similar to what I had witnessed throughout the afternoon.
I wonder how many Porsche owners as they left the track that weekend, departed with aspirations of racing a GT3 Cup car, or experienced the desire to get involved and go PCA club racing or to compete in time trials. For me, the event evoked memories of my time behind the wheel of a friends Viper Green 2007 GT3RS, and further cemented my resolve to one day own a Type 997 GT3. In the meantime, these experiences have helped me develop a set of benchmarks to use in my quest to enhance the performance of my own Carrera.
(All photos by the author)