Happy New Years 2016!
Here’s to opening new doors in the coming year…
All photos by the Author
Happy New Years 2016!
Here’s to opening new doors in the coming year…
All photos by the Author
After an overly long delay, here goes; “better late than never.”..The fulfillment of a lifelong dream, Part 2.
So having left Porsche’s soon to be completed “Spirit of Le Mans exhibit, I figured it was time to scout out a location for watching the start of the race, and one where I could have a good vantage point from which to begin my photographic explorations. Fortunately, I remembered seeing an open spectator area right behind one of the food and beer concessions, complete with tables and chairs, and based upon the information from my track map, I decided this very area facing the Dunlop curve and Dunlop chicane would be ideal, and give me good afternoon lighting. (Little did I know the side benefit that this location would provide, but more on that later).
For those that follow my Instagram feed, you may have seen a post I made leading up to our departure for France. The Porsche magazine Christophorus, had arrived in the mail, and issue # 366 just happened to be dedicated to Le Mans.
Inside, I discovered an article written about one of the newest racing drivers to join the Porsche factory team, Brendon Hartley, and his unique talents as a top simulator / virtual test driver. Brendon would be co-driving Porsches new LMP-1, 919 hybrid (car #20) with team mates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard. Within the article was a sidebar that included a track map with key sections highlighted, and linked to a description penned by Brendon Hartley, focused on the making of an ideal lap. Seven different track sections were described, and each accompanied by his personal approach to driving the 919 at optimum speed. It was an amazing article, and his insight into racing at Le Mans made for a great read, not to mention providing me with a list of locations to explore and observe during the race.
Now back to my trackside adventures…
Since it was now 2 PM, I had just one hour to select my trackside viewing spot, and prepare for the 3 PM start of the race. Given the height of the trackside safety catch fencing, I needed a location with some elevation in order to minimize the fencing’s visual impact. Luckily, there were still some chairs and space available on the elevated concrete patio behind one of the concession stands, so I grabbed an empty chair close to the edge of the patio, and set up my camera gear. This location gave me a solid panoramic view (to my left) of the Dunlop curves…
and to my right, the Dunlop chicane and bridge.
With the clock ticking and less than 1/2 hour to race time, one of the pre race activities included an aerial show. After a brief PA announcement, the event’s focus shifted skyward, just in time to catch a trio of skydivers beginning their descent.Their ultimate landing / target turned out to be the start / finish line.
With all eye’s turned skyward…
With the last of the skydiving trio successfully back on the tarmac, the final countdown to the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours race began. After another brief announcement over the PA, there arose a collective cheer that could be heard coming from the grandstands situated along pit row, and suddenly race cars appeared on the track. Leading the pack was the brilliant red Audi RS6 Avant (as seen below), representing one of the multiple Safety and Race Control Cars provided by Audi, which would pace the pack for their warm up laps. These red Audis RS6s would reappear multiple times over the next 24 hours, anytime race conditions warranted the need for a safety car on track (in the event of an accident on the circuit, or weather issues). After picking up the race leader, the Audi RS6 Avant would control the pace of the field, until race control determined all current concerns had been resolved, and it was safe for the competition to resume.
Following a short distance behind the Audi, was the crowds first glimpse of the competitors we had all come to see, beginning their initial warm up laps.
The first of the new Porsche GT3 RSR’s below; leading the pack was the Porsche Team Manthey (i.e. Factory team car) 911 RSR #91, competing in the GTE / Pro class…
and for 2014 from the Proton Competition / Dempsey Racing team, their new for 2014 Porsche 911 RSR #77, competing in the GTE / AM class.
Below, one of the first LMP1 cars to appear; Toyota’s TS040 Hybrid, part of the two car team as campaigned by Toyota Racing.
Another of the Porsche 911 GT3RSR’s, a joint effort between the Belgian Prospeed Competition group and the American firm Weathertech.
Following behind Weathertech’s Porsche 911GT3 RSR, was one of the first LMP2 class race cars to appear. This particular car (#42) was entered by Caterham Racing, but managed by Greaves Motorsport. Ironically, the drivers line up for this car consisted of two american drivers (Chris Dyson and Matt McMurry), with the third (Tom Kimber-Smith) representing Great Britain.
Representing the United States, was this duo of Corvette C7Rs, fielded by the Pratt & Miller team.
Following close behind was Nissan’s ZE0D RC (a solo entrant), entered by Nissan Motorsports Global.
Another team representing Great Britain was Aston Martin Racing, competing with a pair of V8 Vantage coupes.
And finally the LMP1 class team cars from Porsche rolled into view; first up was the #14, 919 Hybrid…
followed close behind by its teammate, the #20 919 Hybrid.
For the Tifosi assembled, the 2014 Le Mans 24 contained a total of fourteen Ferrari 458 Italia models, competing in both the GTE PRO and GTE AM classes. Below, is one of the 458 Italia’s, competing in the GTE / AM class, for the AF Corse team.
And finally, one of the three Audi R18E-tron LMP1 race cars, entered by Audi Sport Team Joest.
As the cars filtered past, suddenly there was an eerie silence as the last car in the race car conga line disappeared under the Dunlop bridge.
Then from the direction of the start/finish line, a roar went up from the grandstands, just as the clock struck 3:00pm, signaling the start of the race. Continuing this crush of sound were the first cars to come into view; an R18 Audi e-tron followed closely by a Toyota TS040 hybrid and Porsche 919 hybrid…
Following closely behind these lead LMP1 cars was an assortment of GTE PRO, GTE AM and LMP2 class cars.
My first hour and a half of the race was spent exploring the Dunlop curve and Chicane area of the track. And by 4:30pm, the Dunlop curve location proved to be a good choice, especially when the gray clouds that had been gathering over the track, decided to rain on this automotive parade. As the skies open up, I was able to take cover beneath the projecting roofline of a cantina located on the infield side at the Dunlop curve. Here I could stay dry and continue to shoot the race from under cover for the next half hour as the storm passed. Fortunately, this was the only rain that would fall on the event.
So with the skies now clearing, I decided to make my way south towards the start / finish straight, with a stop along the way to watch the cars returning to the track at the pit out / exit. This also afforded me a unique perspective to view the cars close up and at speed, as they accelerated on their way towards the Dunlop curve.
With the sun now beginning to cast longer shadows, I decided to do some more track exploring and wanted to check out the view at the Dunlop bridge. For the spectators with reserved seating in these grandstands, this area provided an ideal vantage for watching the cars race through the Dunlop curve and Dunlop chicane, and set up for passing beneath the iconic Dunlop Bridge, and then continue towards the “Esses” section on the opposite side. This location also made for some interesting photographic captures …
As the sun continued its arc across the sky, and the light levels began to drop, I figured it was a good time to refuel and grab some food. So heading back into the village, I found a small cantina offering up a variety of sandwiches. The jambon y fromage baguette (ham and cheese) had been a good choice at lunch, so another two were consumed for dinner, washed down with a large Coca Cola to caffeine load for the long night ahead. (I had decided that since this was my first trip to Le Mans, I did not want to miss a minute of the race, and was determined to stay awake for the entire 24 hours).
So after my quick dinner, it was time to continue my exploration of the track, which was beginning to fall under a cloak of darkness. Since I was still in the proximity of the Dunlop chicane, I decided to check out the area between the Dunlop bridge and the Tertre Rouge bend. On the way, I stopped to watch the cars flying through the Esses, and capture some of the action ( these images were taken at around 10:30 pm).
By midnight, the darkness closed in and the perspectives shifted again…
Exiting the Tertre Rouge bend, the cars transition onto the longest straight located on the track; the world-famous Mulsanne straight. So I hiked out to this area of the track in the dark, and discovered an illuminated pedestrian corridor running beneath the race track, which allowed access to the viewing area located to the outside of the track. This proved to be a great location for observing the stunning performance capabilities possessed by the LMP1 class vehicles (in particular, the Audi R-18s, Porsche 919 hybrids, and the Toyota TS040s). It was equally amazing to watch the GTE PRO and AM class cars follow the same trajectories, but at a slightly reduced top speed, and with a uniquely distinct exhaust notes. It was surreal to watch how fast these cars could track through the turn, only to disappear into the darkness down the Mulsanne straight. As the cars disappeared from view, you could still hear them accelerating and hitting their shift points, as they raced down the Mulsanne.
With the hours passing, and in an effort to stay warm, I decided to do some more exploring of the track, so I went in search of a classic visual icon; the neon illuminated ferris wheel, located by the Maison Blanche section of the racetrack.
With it now close to 3 AM ( the halfway point of the race), I felt it appropriate to check out Porsche’s infield Hospitality center.
Access into the facility turned out to be by invitation only, which contained a cantina, boutique and product showroom, and a floor to ceiling video display wall, located on the back wall of the vehicle showroom, and broadcasting live coverage of the race.
As I stood on the outside looking in, I was surprised at how many people were still inside given the hour (shopping at the boutique and watching the video display). The showroom also housed an example of Porsche’s new for 2014, 919 hybrid race car, as well as a copy of the latest 911RSR iteration, identical to the two team cars being raced in the GTE PRO class.
With the temperatures still cooling, it was time for me to once again refuel with something warm, and fortunately I found a cantina in the Village still open, serving up coffee and hot chocolate. Time to take a break, put me feet up and take my backpack full of camera gear off for a while, and warm up with two hot chocolates, and watch the race coverage streaming on one of the large video displays located within the village.
A total of 6 jumbotron video displays were situated around the track, and were a great tool to have for staying current on the action taking place on and around the track. In addition to the imagery, race standings were posted over the duration of the 24 hours.
Warmed up, refueled and still awake at 4:30 AM, I decided to return to the Esses and Tertre Rouge area of the track, to watch the sun rise over the track, and watch the early morning light illuminate the race cars circulating around the track. Once again, the elevated berm in this area served as an ideal platform for viewing the racing action in these two zones.
A series of shots captured at the Esses, with the aid of the early morning light.
With the sun on the rise, I made way down to the Tertre Rouge bend, and staked out a spot at the top of the berm, as a good vantage point from which to photograph the remainder of the race, and slotted in amongst the crowd that had begun to assemble.
Below are a random assortment of shots I captured over the course of the morning, and wrapping up at the conclusion of the race at 3 PM.
An instance where the safety car (above) was dispatched to pace the field…
(Below), the crowd that grew around me Sunday morning, on the berm at the Tertre Rouge bend…
At 2 PM, suddenly the race took a negative turn for both of Porsche’s 919 hybrids (#14 and #20), which for the previous 23 hours had collectively given both Audi and Toyota a run for their money. But now, both cars were in the garage, with the #20 car retired with motor issues, and the #14 car sidelined by gearbox and drive train issues. For the remaining hour, the two Audi’s and the sole remaining Toyota continued lapping the track, chasing the clock to 3 PM. However, unknown by their competitors, Porsche had been working on the #14 race car, in an effort to return it to the track. And with only 10 minutes remaining,the 919 returned to the track, unfortunately circulating at a less than competitive pace.
The two Audi’s R-18 e -trons and the sole remaining Toyota TS040 soldiered on, and at 3:00 PM, Audi took the checkered flag, and once again finished in 1st and 2nd place, with the Toyota TS040 placing third.
And to everyone’s surprise, the #14 Porsche 919 hybrid had returned to the track, taking its final lap and crossing the finish line.
At the completion of the 2014 race, Porsche announced their intentions to return in 2015. And it appears that they were true to their word.
As of this posting, the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans concluded today; Porsches three car 919 hybrid team (#17, #18, #19) not only qualified on the pole, but also captured second and third place on the starting grid. As for the race, at the end of the 24 hours, Porsche scored a win, taking first and second place overall, with car #19 f and car # 17 respectively. Porsches third 919 hybrid (car # 18), finished in 5th place, behind the two Audi R-18s, which captured third and fourth place.
Porsche fans world wide will be celebrating this years Le Mans 24 one -two victory, as well as the manufacturers overall Le Mans 24 victory tally being increased by one to a total of 17.
And with Porsches upcoming Rennsport Reunion V , with a “Legends of Le Mans” theme, September in Monterey promises to be a continuation of the celebration of this milestone victory.
(All photos by the author)
For anyone familiar with the Porsche brand, the name Le Mans has always been closely linked to their impressive racing history. After developing a passion for Porsches as I entered my teenage years, I began studying and researching these significant Porsche race cars and those victories achieved at this mysterious French race track. At that moment, the hook was set and attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans race became a lifelong aspiration.
I did come close to fulfilling this very dream of attending Le Mans twice; once in 2001 and the second time in 2002, while living and working in France. However, each year due to schedule conflicts, I was unable to attend. So imagine my surprise when Porsche announced their return to Le Mans for 2014, after a 16 year hiatus with the following statement – “Mission 2014. Our Return”. And return they would, with a pair of brand new race cars; the Porsche 919 hybrid. Not to mention Porsche bringing a pair of new 911 RSR’s, competing in the GTE / Pro class. So after a discussion with my wife about planning our vacation for 2014, she quickly agreed on a trip to France, which we would schedule around my attendance at this years Le Mans 24. My wife’s sole travel request consisted of being able to travel through France’s Loire Valley, and occasionally stay at a Chateau. Ironically, Le Mans is roughly located towards the center of the Loire. So working with this years race date of June 14-15, 2014, my wife went to work on searching out and booking us at several Chateaus and hotels scattered throughout the Loire Valley. We quickly learned however, that trying to book a hotel in or near Le Mans for 2014 was downright impossible. As a back-up plan, we found several chateaus in the village of Amboise, located about 1 -1/2 hours south of Le Mans, each with available rooms. Since I would be attending the race by myself (my wife is not a race fan), she would be staying behind at Chateau #2 (which worked out perfectly), since it was located within walking distance to the town, and good for sightseeing, shopping and dining.
So with the rest of our travel plans now finalized, it was time for me to begin researching how to attend ones first 24 Hours of Le Mans race. After a google search, I found the official 24 Hours of Le Mans / ACO website. As a spectator, I learned I would need a basic admission ticket and a parking pass to gain admission into the track. Since my plan was to walk around the track and photograph the race from multiple locations, general admission would be perfect. There was also the option to book a grandstand seat at a variety of locations situated around the track, at an additional cost; the more desirable locations carrying the highest prices. Because of my desire to be mobile, I passed on the grandstand seating. Parking options also varied, and recommendations as presented were based upon ones direction of travel. After a quick review of my trusty Michelin road map, I selected one of the several available in-field parking areas (green / Vert), figuring that having easy access to my car in the event of bad weather or fatigue would be a good idea. With my decisions made, it became a simple process to order my tickets online, and for a minor fee, have them delivered via UPS to my home in the States. About three weeks after placing my order, my packet was delivered, and I now held my general admission ticket and parking pass for the green ( Vert) lot, section M-1…
So on June 6, my wife and I boarded our Lufthansa flight to Munich Germany, with a short connecting flight that would deliver us to our final destination, the Charles De Gaulle airport in France.
Below, sunset over the polar route, on our way to Munich, Germany.
We arrived in Munich on schedule, and after a brief lay over, were on our way to the Charles De Gaulle airport, located about 45 minutes to the east of Paris. After collecting our luggage, we picked up our rental car from the company Sixt. ( should anyone be planning a trip to France, I would highly recommend this rental car company). Even though we came prepared with our Michelin maps for navigating France, our car came equipped with navigation, which proved to be invaluable during our trip. After programming in our first destination, and adjusting the language section to english, we were off to the Marne La Valle area, where we would be staying at a friend’s home.
For our first couple of days we traveled into Paris, revisiting some of our favorite districts and landmarks. We had lunch at one of the many sidewalk bistros in the 5th district; the photo below was shot through the bistro’s open window.
After lunch, we walked back across the Seine, and made our way over to the second most recognizable landmark within Paris: Notre Dame.
Within 10 minutes of taking the photos above (the less seen side and back views of Notre Dame), the gray clouds intensified, and rain began falling. This quickly sent everyone running for cover or for those prepared, reaching for their umbrellas. Nothing new for Paris in early June…
By the time Thursday rolled around, it was time for us to load up the car and head out towards Paris, then detour south towards the village of Amboise. Imagine our surprise at encountering the vehicles seen below, also heading south. Any thoughts as to their destination?
After giving them a thumbs-up as we passed, we continued south towards our final destination. Our next stop however would require a slight detour, to another of France’s architecturally significant Cathedrals; Chartres. Since my wife had never visited Chartres, we decided to stop for a quick tour (this would mark my third visit).
Our brief stop was well worth the time spent; Chartres immediately became one of my wife’s new favorite Cathedrals in France. And as the photos illustrate, the interior of the cathedral was undergoing a full restoration, with a high percentage of the walls, ceilings and stained glass windows having recently been restored, with the remaining areas still awaiting their turn. (Definitely a brighter appearing interior, and beautiful, vibrant leaded glass windows, noticeably improved over my last visit 12 years ago).
Once back on the road we continued south, and several hours later finally arrived at our destination in Amboise, despite one major road closure that sent us on a one hour detour. Amboise would become our new home base through the weekend, and for the next two days, residence at the 750 year old Chateau de Pray (below).
On Friday morning, we ventured out to visit the nearby 16th century Renaissance palace, Chateau de Chenonceau (as seen below).
Chateau de Chenonceau is reported to be the most visited Chateau in all of France, and given its sheer size, spectacular location, architectural and interior details as well as its history, it was easy to understand the attraction.
When the sun rose the following morning, it was now Saturday June 14, and time for me to make my long-awaited trek to Le Mans. After getting my wife checked into our next Chateau for the weekend, it was time to head off to the race that had been a lifelong dream. After programming the Le Mans race track into the cars navigation, I was literally off to the race. After driving for roughly 1-1/2 hours through the Loire Valley countryside, I was finally near my destination as seen below…
After navigating several more roundabouts, I spotted the roadway signage indicating the entrances to the different race track parking areas. Fortunately, my green (Vert) parking area was one of the first signs I encountered, and after following the signs, I found myself in one very long line…
One hour later, I was now parked in section M-1, and began collecting my camera gear in anticipation of the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; experiencing and creating a photographic record of my around the clock adventure at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.
So with all of my gear stowed in my backpack, it was time for “Step One”; Finding the entrance into the race track. Fortunately, the entry structure was visible from the parking lot, and just a short hike from my car. As I approached, It quickly became obvious as to its function; the entry side was to the left, and the exit was to the right.
The entry procedure turned out to be very streamlined and efficient; multiple staff members were stationed at each portal with a hand-held scanner, giving them the ability to keep the flow of fans moving quickly. Throughout the 24 hours, whether entering, exiting or re-entering, your admission pass was scanned, to insure validity, and eliminated the need to rubber stamp people’s hands. I personally tested this process out several times over the 24 hours, and can attest to its efficiency.
So now that I was inside the track, and after climbing several sets of steep stairs, I was face to face with a landmark I had first seen on the “Wide World of Sports” television show back in the late 1960’s; the iconic Dunlop bridge that spans the Le Mans race track, so this became my very first exploration…
It also became apparent that the European race fans take their motor racing very seriously, as witnessed by the crowds already present, and the ever-increasing number of fans that continued to fill the track, as well as the grandstands adjacent to the bridge.
Having completed my hike around the outside areas of the track near the Dunlop bridge, it was time to return to the infield area and begin exploring the infield area known as the “Village”.
Walking past the silver paneled Audi boutique, I could see through the gathering crowd, what appeared to be one of Audi’s new R-18 e-tron race cars on display. Time to stop and get a close up look at their latest creation…
After leaving the Audi boutique, it was time to explore more of the venues present within the Village. Walking along the pathway, I came across the Top Gear simulator, which every few minutes would swallow up a new batch of guests in their motion base simulator. The audio volume within the simulator had been cranked up so high, that standing outside, you could still hear the internal audio track.
Next up were several more automotive manufacturer boutiques; first up was Aston Martin Racing…
and right next door was Lotus.
Continuing further into the village, I began hearing what sounded like live music, and rounding a corner, was almost run over by this roving brass band as seen below…
After escaping from the band, I made my way over to the Michelin display, which described the development of race tire technology (as used on Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid), and the transfer of these technologies and applications to their street tires.And to demonstrate their street car applications, they just happened to have on display one very silver, 2014 Porsches GT3 shod with Michelin tires.
Located a short distance from the Michelin display was the Spark boutique, dedicated to the fans who like their cars on a smaller scale.
Another of the very crowded boutiques, but with a predominately male shopper. As the photo below illustrates, Spark produces some of the nicest scale, display models of any company. The large-scale, Audi R-18 e-tron on display was amazing, as was the asking price; 3000 euro, which in dollars worked out to roughly $4080.00 !!
Located right next to the Spark boutique, was GM’s display and boutique, which displayed a single, 2014 charcoal gray Chevrolet Corvette C7.
Another of the impressive sights found within the Village, and close to the Paddock; the massive, polished metal Audi monolith, positioned in the middle of the plaza.
The reflective surfaces also made for a great photo opportunity, as witnessed below…
Located directly opposite of this monolith, was the automotive boutique that I had hoped to find. Positioned out front were two examples of Porsches latest race cars; a GT3 Cup Car, and an example of their brand new LMP1 class, 919 Hybrid.
Serving as the backdrop for these two race cars, was a semi tractor-trailer designed as a rolling Porsche boutique, complete with pop-outs to deliver an expandable showroom.
As much as I wanted to enter the boutique to check out the contents, the line to enter continued to grow in size and the number of people entering was being regulated, so I figured I would return later.
Ironically, located immediately behind the Porsche Fan Spot boutique was the Paddock area and the entrance to the garages, pit area and pit lane grandstands. And as the following photos illustrate, Porsche took full advantage of this particular area to advertise their 2014 return to Le Mans…
Below, the multi-storied Race Control building, whose occupants would be responsible for managing the race for the full 24 hours, and located at the entrance to pit lane.
Circling the garage / paddock area, I was fortunate to spot the latest race car transporters for the Porsche factory team; commissioned with delivering their new LMP1 919 hybrids to race tracks throughout Europe.
Spotted parked four rigs over from the end, was this tractor/trailer combo for Porsche Motorsports. I suspect that the large boxes on the rear lift gate contained body parts for either the latest 911 RSR’s or the new 919 hybrid.
Another Porsche venue (Spirit of Le Mans) discovered on my walk back up through the infield village…
Being the ever inquisitive Porsche fan, I walked up to the tent flap to see what was inside.
Looking inside, I found a crew still in the process of working to complete the display. I was able to grab a few quick shots as they made their way toward where I was standing.
My first shot (above), was of what appeared to be the Porsche 908/02 that Steve McQueen and Peter Revson drove to a second place finish at Sebring back in 1970.
My second shot (below), captured what looked to be Porsches last overall Le Mans 24 race winner from back in 1998; the awesome 1998 GT1LM…
Would having this car on site bring luck to the multiple Porsche teams competing at this years race, and would Porsche repeat their overall race victory this year with their new 919 hybrid?
Please stay tuned for part two of my blog, which will cover the entire 24 hours of the race, as well as my post race travels through the Loire Valley and return to Paris.
(Here’s a sneak peek of two race shots)…
(All photos by the author)
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)
Where else but in Southern California could you wake up early on a Saturday morning, drive to a car show and come face to face with a collection of Porsche race cars like those pictured below.
However, before the morning was over, the open space to the left of the Carrera 6 (Type 906) would be filled, and the white Porsche 928 to the far right would bow out to make way for a 914-6 GT race car. A rumor circulating that morning was that a Porsche 911R was on its way to the show, its intended parking space next to the 906 Carrera. Half an hour later, that rumor became a reality, as a white 1967 Porsche 911R, with its distinct exhaust note, pulled up to the featured lot and took its place alongside its Porsche brethren.
Given the rarity of the Porsche 911R model (just four pre production prototypes were produced, followed by a limited production run of only 20 models). Just seeing one in person is epic, however, this particular 911R (pictured above and below) takes epic to a completely different level, due to its historical significance.
This particular 911R is currently undergoing restoration by the Torrance, California shop of Callas Rennsport. A clue to this cars origins can be found displayed on each door. Have you figured it out? If not, for those unfamiliar with the Porsche 911R, I’ve included a brief history regarding this limited production model, as well as details specific to the 911R captured at cars&coffee:
The 911R was a purpose-built vehicle that came out of Ferdinand Piech’s experimental department at Porsche in the spring of 1967. An initial batch of four prototypes were produced, all ultra light weight examples based upon Porsche’s 911, each capable of demonstrating their competition potential in both under rally and GT based racing conditions. Each prototype started life as a standard 911, however lighter weight, thinner gauge steel panels were substituted for the chassis stampings where feasible. Body panels were fabricated using both fiberglass and aluminum, to maintain a stock appearance, and contribute to overall weight reduction efforts. All of the windows were also put on a diet, with all side and rear windows produced in Plexiglass. Even the windshields were included, and made as thin and light weight as possible. The stock front vent windows were replaced by fixed panels, with each incorporating a single round, aircraft sourced pop out vent (as seen below).
Each rear quarter window, in addition to being produced in plexiglass, included a set of louvers to aid with interior ventilation.
The 911Rs potent 1991 cc race motor (delivering 201 HP), came complete with dual ignition, 46mm Weber carburetors (complete with water shields), and smaller diameter cooling fan with the natural finished, fiberglass cooling shroud ( as seen below). Power is delivered through a 5-speed transmission, linked to a ZF limited slip differential. These components had been sourced from another of Porsches successful race cars, in this case the Carrera 6 (Type 906). Ironically, on this morning the white Porsche race car (#11) parked to the right of the 911R, just happened to be a Carrera 906…
Visible just to the left of the fan is the massive, twin plug distributer, sparked by the dual, blue Bosch coils. Fuel delivery is provided by the dual Bendix fuel pumps as seen below.
Porsche’s abbreviated tail light design, created for and utilized solely by the 911R.
(Below) A freshly restored, fiberglass rear deck lid with integral rear mesh grill, left unpainted on the underside, as originally delivered.
This 911Rs first taste of competition came on July 23, 1967, in a 330 mile race in Mugello, Italy. In its debut event, piloted by Vic Elford and Giis van Lennup, this 911R finished third, behind two Porsche 910s and ahead of a Ford GT Mk IV. Then in late October of 1967, this very 911R was called up to the big leagues. A Swiss race team was at Monza (Italy), attempting to set world and 2.0 liter class records for distance and speed, driving a Porsche Carrera 6 (906). Unfortunately, the 906 experienced suspension problems after 12 hours into its quest. Sponsors for this record-setting attempt were BP and Firestone, and to honor this sponsorship commitment, the Swiss team contacted Stuttgart regarding a replacement car in order to continue their record-setting attempt. Porsche responded back, stating that they could send a 911R as the replacement, confident in its capabilities to meet the teams needs.The 911R was then driven from Stuttgart, and delivered to the waiting team at Monza. After being loaded up with the spare parts required for this type of event, the car was sent onto the track, to begin its record-setting attempt. The following four drivers would take turns behind the wheel of the 911R over the duration of the attempt: Rico Steinemann, Jo Seiffert, Dieter Spoerry and Charles Vogele. Over the next six continuous days, the 911R was run flat-out, and succeeded in setting eleven time and distance records in the 2.0 liter class, as well as posting five world records at 15,000 kilometers, 10,000 miles, 20,000 kilometers, 72 hours and 90 hours. Their average speed recorded at the end of the six-day run, (of over 20,000 kilometers), was 130.02 mph. All of these records were accomplished by the 911R seen here, recorded as chassis No.118 990 001. This chassis came to be noted by Porsche as the very first “production model” out of their limited run of twenty cars, thus establishing this individual car’s historical significance.
Front wheel detail; the 911Rs “deep six” X 15 inch, Fuchs 5 spoke alloy wheel, wrapped in Firestone rubber. Rear wheels measured 7 inch X 15.
Seeing is believing; the powerful, dual lamp Bosch H1 headlight, with 911R specific front running lights, and its unique front air intake, designed to provide cooling air for the dual oil coolers tucked into each front fender.
The highly detailed front trunk, with its prominently placed fabricated steel fuel tank with central filler, and the welded in place, front shock tower strut bar. Located directly below, are the dual set of hard lines linked to each front fender mounted oil cooler, providing cooled oil for the motor. Also visible is the restored underside of the front fiberglass hood, showcasing its natural, unpainted finish, as originally produced back in 1967.
Another of the design features unique to the 911R; the rear fender mounted, dry sump oil tank filler with exposed cap. This very feature would reappear in 1972 (the dry sump oil tank moved forward to in front of the right rear wheel, for the supposed benefit of better weight balance), as a one year only feature found on all 911 models.
During this cars world record-setting run, the team back in Zuffenhausen had begun work on their initial batch of 20 “production 911R” models. Due to the limited production nature of this model, Porsche had contracted with an outside firm (Karl Bauer of Stuttgart), for the production of the bodies. Porsche ended up making a series of minor changes to their production run of 20 vehicles, when compared to the spec for their four prototype 911Rs. These variations would consist of the following: the production versions all had body parts manufactured from normal thickness steel. The windshield glass was specified at 4 mm thick, while the remainder of the windows were specified as 2mm thick Plexiglass. Up front, one major departure from the prototypes was the piercing of the front hood, providing access to the central mounted fuel filler and cap. In regards to the 911R suspension, the production models were equipped with Koni shocks and anti roll bars similar to those found on the Porsche 911S model, and had their suspension ride heights set lower by two inches. Subtle changes made to the motor consisted of the use of Weber 46IDA3C1, triple throat carburetors. Transaxles could now be configured from two unique final drive ratio offered. Standard body color for the 911R was white, unless the builders were given a three weeks advance notice of a desired color change. Upon completion, the finished production 911R weighed in a full 450 pounds less than a stock 911S. Ironically, its final weight of 1810 pounds (for the production 911R) was only 45 pounds heavier than its much lighter 911R prototype siblings. Unfortunately, plans by Porsche to produce additional runs of 911R models never materialized, so fans and collectors were left with only 24 cars to relish. On a personal note, I have been fortunate enough within the last year, to have seen two out of the final 20 production 911Rs in person (#001 and #017). To view 911R # 017, please use this link to access one of my previous blog posts…
As I noted earlier, after the white Porsche 928 had moved over one space to make room for the 914-6 GT (pictured below), those in attendance were now treated to a rare assemblage of Porsche race cars. Was it a coincidence then, that this gathering took place on the very same day as the start of the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona race?
This particular Porsche, the Lufthansa sponsored 1970 914-6 GT, serial # 914 043 1415, also possesses a unique history. Not only is it one of only eleven team cars built, but it also holds several records set during the 1970 Nurburgring 1000KM race. In addition to finishing second in class, this 914-6 GT also set the fastest lap time, and now here it was on display 44 years later, looking like it had just rolled out of the Race Department at Porsche.
The power source for the mid engined 914-6 GT; as seen below, its immaculately prepared, 2.0 liter twin plug boxer six, also derived from the Porsche Carrera 6 (906).
Another example of the ” European market only” rear badging, with the circular Porsche badge used to cover up the stock rear trunk lid lock location, removed for racing and replaced by a pair of rubber hold downs as seen above and below.
California has long been considered a hotbed for all things Porsche, and it never fails to deliver up a multitude of treasures hidden away in garages and the private collections housed throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Surprises can vary from Porsche street cars to the rare and in some cases, seldom seen Porsche race cars. And what makes this particular venue so amazing, is that one never knows what jewels will make their debut from week to week, to an always appreciative crowd.
(All photos by the author)
Sunday morning July 21 dawned cool and gray. Would this be another year for the 356 Club of California, Dana Point Concours to be the victim of rain? This was a question discussed by my son and I as we cruised down the 5 freeway on our way to this years Dana Point Concours. As we turned off Pacific Coast Highway and approached the access road to Lantern Bay, we could already see a line of Porsches snaking up the hill leading to the Marriott hotel where the event is held each year on the lawn, overlooked by the hotel. We followed a Porsche 356 part way up the hill and then pulled off at the first turnout and tucked in line behind the other cars already waiting. As it neared 8 AM, the line finally began moving, and we all began inching up the hill. This proved to be a test of mettle for each car and its driver; nothing like a test of ones hand brake, clutch and throttle skills for ascending a steep hill under bumper to bumper traffic with a Porsche directly ahead and behind…
Our Carrera performed flawlessly and in short order we were at the top of the hill and following the other Porsches onto the grassy grounds of the Concours. The organizers were busy directing all Porsche 356 models to park with their brethren already aligned in neat rows. All of the remaining Porsche models were directed over to the opposite side of the show grounds, to be grouped with the 912, 911 and 914s already present. As we pulled in next to a Grand Prix White, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, we watched as the members of the RGruppe arrived, and were directed to park in the middle of the grassy area reserved for their club. So with our camera gear assembled, fresh battery packs installed, and a “thumbs-up” from my son, we headed off to begin our respective photographic quests.
Standing among the parked RGruppe cars, a distinct un-muffled exhaust note could be heard approaching from behind. As we turned around, we watched as a blue 1973 911 RSR approached, blipped its throttle several times and then came to a stop.
Parked to its immediate left was a pristine example of a 1973 911 Carrera RS; the ideal car for providing a visual comparisons between the two models.
As we walked through the RGruppe parking area, the unmistakable smell of burned clutch wafted through the morning air. After a brief search, we located the 911 with the overworked clutch. It turned out that the car in questions had an inoperative hand brake, so scaling the hill up to the parking area in bumper to bumper traffic became an exercise in balancing brakes, throttle and clutch. Unfortunately in this case, the clutch was the loser.
A gathering of the RGruppe faithful…
A trio of 1970s vintage Porsche 911S models (below), all members of RGruppe.
Two more beautiful and rare Porsches seen below, bridging the gap between the 911 parking and the 356 Concours area. The red model as seen below, a 1964 Porsche 901, and to its right, a 1968 911L in pale yellow.
This particular car was recently restored in Germany by the firm RUF…
It even included a vintage brochure (in German), advertising Porsches new for 1964 model, the 901. It’s believed that this particular car is the very same one as represented on the brochure.
Another of Porsches milestone cars, the 904 Carrera GTS, as seen below, and one of several Porsche race cars on display from the Ingram Collection.
This is also one of the few Porsche 904s that I’ve seen that has the small Porsche letters placed across the rear deck, in addition to the standard Carrera GTS rear fender badging….
With the rear deck opened, a view of the 2.0 liter, four cam four-cylinder motor…
The writing on the wall, or in this case on the transaxle; gear ratios recorded for future reference (see below).
Parked immediately to the right of the Porsche 904, was an example of Porsches first 911 based race car (and one of my all time favorites); a true 1967 Porsche 911R, model #17 of only 20 models produced by the Factory, and another Porsche from the Ingram Collection on display.
The first of Porsches many explorations into fender flare profiles (circa 1967) as seen below…
Porsche 911R # 17s Biography…
The quintessential 911R tail lights; the original source of all present day derivatives, and inspiration for all subsequent copies…
Below, the potent 1991 cc, 2.0 liter race motor. And in this case, one featuring a rare and unique option found on this car; a slide valve fuel injection system (normally reserved for Porsche’s 910 race cars), but in this case one sourced from the parts department back in the day at Vasek Polak’s Porsche dealership, while #17 was undergoing a rebuild for a celebrity client.
This back story was shared by none other than Dieter Inzenhofer (of Andial fame and as seen in the photo below), upon viewing #17’s motor. He immediately recognized it as one of his early rebuilds, in particular due to the 910 slide valve fuel injection system as installed. Dieter noted that he had personally sourced and installed this very system onto the motor for this car while he was employed by Vasek Polak. This information was also shared with Kevin Watts of Road Scholars (seen in the yellow shirt), and who just happens to manage the Ingram Collection. This new information can now be used to bridge some of the gaps in #17s past history, prior to its acquisition by the Ingram Collection.
Open for business; 911R #17s spartan, race prepared interior.
And now for something completely different… row after row of Porsche 356 models, cleaned, polished and aligned for this years featured event; the 356 Club of California, Dana Point Concours.
A stunning example of a fully restored, Azure Blue 356 Speedster…
seen wearing a set of rare, Rudge knock-off wheels, and in this case body color matched.
A line up of Dolphin Gray and Silver Porsche coupe and cabriolet models below;
perfect for providing inspiration and producing magic moments.
Let the judging begin. Parked several rows back, a Porsche 356 coupe undergoing scrutiny by one of the multiple, blue – shirt adorned Concours judging teams.
Ankle height perspective of the neighborhood and ones immediate neighbors…
and recording 911s arriving for a visit (below).
Another of the beautifully prepared 356 Speedsters, positioned along the front row, awaiting its turn for judging.
Next up was a visit to the trophy table, where this years design was themed to surfboards. And what better location than Lantern Bay, overlooking Dana Point, to employ a surfboard styled trophy to commemorate this years 356 Concours, especially since Dana Point has a long history as one of Southern California’s classic surf spots.
And with the unveiling of the trophies, the Concours results soon followed. One by one, the various trophy winners from each respective class were announced. Each of the winners was required to drive their cars up to the presentation area, in order to accept their trophies.
I learned that the car seen below had just undergone a 2+ year restoration, and had just been completed the day prior to the Concours, thus making this show its debut.
The happy owner and a class winning trophy; the perfect way to celebrate a Concours debut.
The gathering of the other happy Concours award winners…
Class winner; The beautiful Signal Red 1964 356C 2000GS Carrera 2 coupe.
Ironically, the Signal Red 1964 356C Carrera 2 (below), in addition to winning its class was also awarded “Best of Show”, having registered a score of 298 out of a possible 300 points.
Freshly restored, and now the award-winning Porsche proudly displaying its four cam motor (seen below)…
Collateral material and accessories as displayed across the cars rear jump seats…
Carrera specific; the lower rear apron masking the cars dual outlet muffler. Even the fit and finish and detail observed on this small area were amazing, and reflected the same care and overall level of fit and finish found throughout this entire car.
While I was in the process of writing this blog post, the latest issue or Excellence magazine (October 2013) arrived in the mail. Imagine my surprise when I came across an article on John Willhoit, and a companion article about a certain Signal Red 1964 Porsche 356C Carrera 2 2000 GS coupe, restored by non other than John’s Willhoit Auto Restoration shop. To read the full article on the 356 Carrera 2 as found in Excellence, please refer to this link.
Some of you may be asking what happened to the “hidden spectator” reference as noted in the title of this post? After returning home, and reviewing my photos from the events, I noticed after studying one particular image, that there was in fact a hidden spectator observing the Concours and who had gone undetected.
Can you find the “hidden spectator” in the photo above?
And who knows, perhaps there will be even more “hidden spectators” present for next years 356 Club of California, Dana Point Concours.
(All photos by the author)
Having spent the better part of the morning pouring over and photographing all of the participants and activities associated to the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Porsche 911, it was time for me to pursue another of my photographic passions; the purpose-built Porsche race cars of the Club racing program.
So as I made my way towards Garage 3, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a car up to that time that I had only seen in photos, but never in person until earlier that morning at check-in. Now I was face to face with the car, and ironically it was parked immediately across from the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 911 display. The car in question belonged to none other than Magnus Walker, a high-profile member of the Southern California Porsche community, recognized collector of early 911s and creator of the Urban Outlaw brand. Now in front of me was the latest project come to life; his 1972 Porsche 911STR #002.
Magnus’s signature cross drilled and re-chromed door handles..
The spartan, 911ST inspired interior, enhanced by a vintage Racemark steering wheel…
The very cool, gold satin finished Group 4 PAG 15 wheels mounted up front -15″ x 8″ rims on Hoosier tires (as seen below)…
and out back – 15″ X 10″ Group 4 PAG 15 wheels, also on Hoosier rubber.
from the back, even more visible examples of Magnus Walker’s signature details; the Porsche side stripes, louvered rear deck lid, and the custom profiled fender flares (front and rear), complete with integrated 911R inspired tail lights…
The race inspired Porsche graphics installed on the louvered rear decklid, sourced from graphic designer, photographer, Porsche owner and blogger Bob Tilton of werkcrew.com.
Now it was time to visit Garage 3 to see what photographic opportunities awaited…
As I rounded the corner, I caught this silver Porsche GT3 below just as it was pulling back into the Garage area, and in time to watch one of the crew approach with one of the specially designed torque wrenches, specially created for tightening center lock hubs. What I found surprising was the amount of re-tightening that each wheel required. And as the morning wore on, this was a scene I saw repeated by the majority of teams running Porsche GT3 Cup cars. And if I recall, the center lock hubs need to be torqued to approximately 340 foot pounds, thus its overall size in order to generate sufficient leverage, and achieve the required torque setting.
The return and latest iteration of the DiscounTechnology Porsche GT3 Cup car below, which made a similar appearance at last years event…
And parked to its immediate left, was this pair of orange 2007 Porsche GT3 RS…
Keeping with the Porsche theme for the weekend, was this beautifully restored Porsche Junior Diesel tractor and trailer, parked outside of the 911 Design hospitality tent (which was located between Garage 3 and 2), which I had watched navigate throughout the parking lot.
Another beauty parked outside of the 911 design tent; a white 911 GT3RS…
And parked immediately to its left, was the centerpiece of the 911 design display: their Porsche 996 GT2 RSR. This is the same car that was featured on the cover of Excellence magazines May 2013 issue, and which was the subject of one of several featured articles.
A truly unique, highly modified custom one of a kind 996 GT2 from any angle…
As I continued through the parking lot, I came across a familiar looking GT3RS 4.0. and upon closer inspection, it turned out to be series # 239, making an encore appearance at this years event. I first encountered this very same car during last years event, and quickly added it to my growing list of GT3 RS4.0 sightings…
My next stop would be Garage 2… Once inside even more Porsche GT3 Cup cars to experience…
Venturing to the north end of the garage, I came across a bevy of GT3 Cup cars from the folks at TruSpeed…
Below, the tails of TruSpeed…
And for couple of little kids, there was even the opportunity for a thrill ride through the parking lot, courtesy of Continental tire (as seen below)…
My next destination would be to the east end of the covered seating area overlooking pit row. This additional elevation affords a great view of the cars flying by on the banking, as they approach turn one…
With the queuing up of the GT class cars in the grid area (below), this signaled the completion of the current on track session, and preparation for the next event…
The first lap formation at speed, accelerating from the start / finish line…
At the completion of the cup car event, and as I prepared to wrap up my shooting for the day, I came across this red 991 pictured below, which turned out to be the track escort for the weekends racing events.
So if this years event, and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Porsche 911 utilized a 2013 991 Carrera S as the lead, escort car, what do you suppose the lead car for next year event will be? Perhaps one of the new 991 GT3’s, since 2014 will witness the return of a Porsche LMP-1 race car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans? I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year to find out…
(All photos by the author)
For anyone who was part of the overflow crowd that descended upon Cars&Coffee/Irvine on Saturday morning February 2, most likely the first vehicle you viewed was a yellow and black Porsche GT3 Cup car positioned at the end of the entry driveway, courtesy of the Orange County, CA based Motorsports shop TruSpeed (www.truspeedmotorcars.com).
As I pulled into the driveway and approached the TruSpeed car, even under low light conditions, I could see what appeared to be battle scars acquired from competition. I then recalled seeing a shot of a similar car from the previous weekends race coverage of the 24 Hours of Daytona, on the Speed Channel. So after parking and grabbing a quick bite, I was off to check out the Porsche race car.
As I approached, I recognized several friends from TruSpeed’s staff: Terry Brewer from their Sales Department, and Dennis Aase. one of Southern California’s premier Porsche race car drivers, and currently Truspeed’s Racing Manager. ( I first met Dennis back in 1972, while purchasing parts for my 1966 Porsche 911, from his company ( Aase Brothers Dismantlers), that specialized in used Porsche parts. I also would run into Dennis throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s at the IMSA series races when they came to the west coast. Dennis campaigned a 2.5 liter Porsche 911 in IMSA’s GTU class ( which can be seen below): his Porsche 911 on pit lane, taken during practice and qualifying for the 1980 Los Angeles Times 6 – hour enduro held at Riverside Raceway.
Now back to the TruSpeed race car…Clearly this GT3 Cup Car had been through a battle, so my first question to Terry was to ask about this car. He verified that it was in fact the Porsche GT3 Cup car that just competed at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and that even with the extensive damage sustained, their car had finished the race in 29th place overall, and 19th in the GT class. While I was shooting the car and talking with Terry, Dennis walked over and joined in on the conversation.
The vantage point and office for each of the team’s four drivers, during their respective stints, shared over the duration of the 24 hour enduro (above).
Having observed the damage sustained to the entire car (front, sides and rear), I had to ask Dennis about the visible carnage. Dennis proceeded to tell me about the frustrations that the team had experienced and endured (the loss of one wheel at speed, as well as being hit multiple times by their fellow competitors, with one of the last impacts sustained to the rear, causing enough damage to crack one of the rear motor mounts and even bend the red, rear engine support cross-bar (as seen below).
While Dennis was sharing more details regarding their race weekend, one of the TruSpeed crew members present was briefing a future race driver (seated behind the wheel), on the details and features found within the cockpit of a current Porsche GT3 Cup car (above).
TruSpeed had even prepared a printed summary sheet, outlining the efforts required and milestones they achieved while competing in the 24 Hours of Daytona race, which was displayed on the windshield (above).
Damaged nose with front splitter bandaged using racers tape (above).
An example of the cars front wheel, complete with racing centerlock hub, Brembro brake caliper, race wheel and tire (below).
Dennis and I both agreed that even with the excessive amount of damage that had been inflicted on this GT3, it was an amazing testament to Porsches build quality, that the car was able to continue turning laps at racing speed and successfully finish the race. And just like the 1960’s commercial tagline for Timex watches: the TruSpeed Porsche GT3 Cup car “took a licking and kept on ticking”…
(All photos by the author)
Today marks the one year anniversary of the debut of my blog, digitaldtour. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the positive feedback and support that I have received during my first year of writing, and sharing my photographic passion for Porsches and all things automotive through my blog. During this past year I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible people who I can now count as friends, and I really appreciate them taking the time to share their automotive stories with me.
I would also like to thank everyone who has subscribed to my blog or has simply taken a moment to read one of my posts or check out the accompanying photos. I hope you will continue to find my blog of interest and worthy of a return visit.
As I stated one year ago, the launch date of my blog was significant in that it shared a series of numbers commonly associated with the Porsche 917K, which has always been one of my favorite Porsche race cars, and is still synonymous with the classic Porsche race cars of the 1970s. So imagine my delight at the opportunity to come face to face with this beautiful, 1969 Porsche 917 K at Porsches Rennsport Reunion IV, as seen below…
So here’s looking forward to a second year of blogging, and the cool cars and stories just waiting to be discovered and shared…
(All photos by the author)
Saturday morning, April 21 dawned warm and hazy. However, on this morning I would not be making my weekly trek down to Cars&Coffee/Irvine, but would instead be driving out to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California to catch day two of the scheduled three-day “Festival of Speed” event. The weekend was marketed as an “Event for Porsche enthusiasts”, however there were other makes and models of street and race cars also present.
After arriving at the race track, my first stop was at the registration building. After signing the required liability waiver, I was issued a black & white checkerboard wristband (secured onto the left wrist of every participant by the registration staff), and given my parking pass. Now it was time to drive over to the infield parking area that had been designated for the weekends festivities. By now, the sun had begun to burn off the mornings haze, and was starting to bring some heat to Fontana. Exiting my car, I could hear the unmistakable sound of Porsche race cars with their distinctive exhaust notes echoing off of the grandstands, as they screamed past the start/finish line, beginning another lap.
As I made my way past the entry portal that divides the parking lot from the infield garage area, I noticed a cast bronze plaque mounted onto the vertical support column and went over for a closer look. It turned out to be a dedication plaque honoring Les Richter, for his contribution to the construction and completion of this racing facility. It also acknowledged his involvement in professional sports with inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Now it was time to find out what treasures awaited out in the infield garages…
First up was this Gray Porsche 997 GT3RS, prepared by the folks from the GMG /Global Motorsport Group.
Its stable mate to the left was this black, GMG prepared Audi R8, with what appeared to be a combination of components sourced from Audi’s R8GT3 and LMS parts bin, and powered by a V-10 motor.
Located on the other side of the block wall, opposite the Audi R8 bay, was a bevy of Porsche GT3 Cup cars, all being prepared for the days scheduled events…
Now imagine my surprise when I looked over and saw this black 2012 Porsche GT3 RS4.0, casually tucked in amongst its GT3 brethren. This is the first and only RS4.0 that I have seen configured for racing, and also marks my 9th GT3 RS4.0 sighting. After I finished shooting the car, all that remained was to discover the series number for this car. A quick look inside, specifically at the cars glove box door ID plaque, revealed this car as being #239 out of 600.
O.Z. centerlock racing wheels…
Positioned next to the Black RS4.0 was the “DISCOUNTECHNOLOGY”, 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup car, and seeing it in person was one of those deja-vu moments; my son and I had watched this very car compete at Porsches Rennsport Reunion IV back in October at Laguna Seca. Here’s the same car at speed, shot while competing at Rennsport IV (see below)…
And located just one bay over to the right, was this spectacular blue 2011 997 GT3. This is the only Porsche GT3 that I have seen wearing this particular shade of blue. After shooting multiple images of the car, my interests in this particular GT3 finally caught the attention of its owner, who came over and introduced himself. I soon learned that this particular color (Aqua Blue metallic), was in fact a very rare color to be seen on a GT3. And apparently the people from Porsche were just as impressed, after seeing the car in person at Rennsport Reunion IV. Because of the rarity of this color being optioned on the GT3 model, the owner was asked by Porsche to put his car on display at Rennsport Reunion IV. The collective belief is that this may be one of the only 2011 GT3’s in North America painted Aqua blue metallic.
A very cool set of GMG / WC-GT centerlock race wheels…
My next stop was Garage 2, where I found even more Porsche GT3 Cup cars…
One of several examples of Porsche brand new 2012 GT3 Cup cars (seen above and below)…
And one of the largest torque wrenches you’ll ever see; the perfect tool for torquing down Porsches GT3 centerlock race wheels to approximately 340 ft lbs…
Located outside and parked in the rows between Garage 2 and 3, was this immaculate gray and red GT3RS, with its identical twin parked just off to its right…
After making the rounds at the two garages, it was time to check out the vendor row. The blue Porsche 997 turbo seen above was on display courtesy of Walter’s Porsche, and paired with a new black Porsche 991 cabriolet. In talking with the sales rep, I learned that this particular color had been sourced from Porsches 356 color palette, originally available for the 1957 to 1959 models, and known as Meissen Blue.
Situated down the row from the Walter’s Porsche display, were these seat shells from Lou’s Metal Shaping (phone# -562-201-4658, email – firstname.lastname@example.org). These beautiful, hand formed aluminum seat shells are intended for use in Porsche 356 speedsters, 550 spyders, and for Porsche 911 owners wanting an aluminum Scheel seat shell/s for their 911…
By now it was getting close to noon time; time to grab some lunch and something cold to drink. With food, drink and camera in hand, it was time to find a shady place to sit down, eat and get ready for the afternoons PCA (Porsche Club of America) club racing to begin. Fortunately, this track has covered infield seating that sets on top of the pit lane suites, and runs the length of and overlooks pit lane, offering up a great view of the racetrack, especially the start / finish line.
By 1 PM, the first group of cars was unleashed, and the first race underway, complete with an Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo spyder and a collection of Porsche 911’s (see photos below)…
White Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (above), with blue 3M masking tape applied as a protective covering…
The second race of the afternoon was the Porsche Club of America Club race for the GT2A class. The first two photos below capture the start of the race…
In formation, rolling up on the start / finish line, awaiting the drop of the green flag…
Hard acceleration after crossing the start / finish line…
The afternoons GT2A class winner (as seen above), streaking across the start / finish line…
After the races concluded, I headed back into the garage area, to make one last pass through before heading home. As I was approaching Garage 1, I saw my friend Eric sitting on his bike, visiting with his fellow racers. I had been looking for Eric and his race car all morning ( a red,1999 Porsche 996 GT3 Koni Challenge Cup car), but had been unsuccessful in locating him. I soon learned that he had been out on track earlier that morning (apparently while I was roaming the garages), thus I missed seeing his time out on the track. Unfortunately, with the summer like weather and high temperatures on this day, his car had begun experiencing overheating problems. Rather than risk catastrophic damage to his motor, Eric made the painful decision to sit out the afternoon race, and was now in the process of trying to locate a new water pump for his car ( believed to be the cause of his overheating problem). Eric pointed me in the direction of his car (parked over behind his trailer), so I could check it out and get some photos. He then rode off into the pit area on his quest to locate a water pump.
After shooting his car, I ran into Eric and his wife, still searching for the elusive water pump. As they headed back to their motor home to cool off from the afternoon heat, I said my goodbyes and was off for one last pass through the garage areas.
Just as I rounded the corner of Garage 1, the back-end of a white Porsche 911 caught my eye. As I headed in its direction, I initially thought it to be a GT3RS. However as I got closer, and was able to make out the graphics, I quickly saw that it was instead a GT3 RS4.0.
Given the rarity of these cars, I’m still amazed to this day that I have seen as many as I have in person, and now this latest encounter brought my total sightings up to ten. The day had presented me with another amazing opportunity to witness not just one but two of these rare GT3 RS4.0’s (in person and on the same day). I made my way over to the passenger side of the car to get a look at the glove box plaque, which revealed that this car was series # 331 of 600.
Now all I have to do is find one car from the 100 series and 500 series, and I will have experienced a complete sampling of the entire RS4.0 production range. And who knows what surprises or opportunities await tomorrow morning at Cars&Coffe / Irvine?
(All photos by the author)