Here’s to celebrating 240 years of independence and freedom enjoyed in the United States.
Wishing you all a Happy and safe 4th of July, and a big thank you to all serving in the military, for your continued service to our country.
Here’s to celebrating 240 years of independence and freedom enjoyed in the United States.
Wishing you all a Happy and safe 4th of July, and a big thank you to all serving in the military, for your continued service to our country.
Happy New Years 2016!
Here’s to opening new doors in the coming year…
All photos by the Author
After an extensive time away from my blog, it’s finally time to get back to the task at hand. And that dear readers means digitaldtour is back, and will once again be sharing Porsche centric, photographic content from near and afar.
To kick things off, I’m going to start with one of my favorite images captured from this past September’s Porsche Rennsport Reunion 5. For those unable to attend, the car below is a 1949 Porsche Gmund SL Coupe, which holds historical significance as one of Porsches earliest class winners at the Le Mans 24 hour race, dating back to 1951.
This car was lovingly ressurected just prior to Rennsport Reunion 5 by Southern California’s own Porsche guru Rod Emory, who’s metal fabrication skills made it possible for Porsche to showcase this car alongside two of their other Legendary Le Mans 24 overall winners seen below; the red & white scalloped Porsche Salzburg 917 from 1970, and this years outright Le Mans 24 hour winner, the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
So this concludes my first post in a very long time. I hope you will return to see what lies ahead…
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…
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)
Porsche GTs in abundance at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, or so the rumors went. In a break with tradition, my son and I attended the 2014 Los Angeles Auto show on the next to last day of its week-long run. Normally, we have always attended opening day, but our collective schedules did not allow that for 2014.
As my son and I ascended the escalator into the convention center, he asked “first stop at Petree hall”? Our yearly tradition has been to start every show with a first stop at Petree Hall, to take in the surprises waiting at the Porsche display. And for 2014, our tradition was upheld.
And what better thematic setting for making an impression upon present or future Porsche owners than the first scene of their display within Petree Hall, with the view seen below.
Framed as a scene taken straight from a race track, and positioned center stage, was one of Porsche’s latest race cars; the 911 GT America. As we approached, it became obvious this race car possessed Southern California roots, campaigned by none other than Dempsey Racing; piloted by Southern California resident / actor Patrick Dempsey, and co-driven by teammate Joe Foster.
Strategically placed near the car, was a display case containing the helmet worn by Patrick Dempsey during the 2014 Tudor United Sports Car Championship racing season. Wrapped in what has become a signature motif, the helmet graphics were designed and executed by Troy Lee Designs.
Rounding the corner into “scene 2”, we encountered Porsche’s Hybrid display, showcasing the Cayenne and Panamera hybrid variants, all displayed in a white. However, the focal point of scene 2 was one centrally located, pearlescent white 918 Spyder as seen below.
In sharp contrast to the hybrid display, was the showcase / world premier display area for Porsches latest GTS model lines. As seen below, and as described by the wall graphic, was Porsches new 911 Carrera GTS; one in cabriolet form…
and to its left on a second turntable, a GTS coupe.
Even Porsche’s Cayenne model was a recipiant of the GTS treatment, wrapped in the same red paint finish, as witnessed by the image below.
The Cayenne GTS rear tail lights were also the souce of a visual reminder (to those who looked closley), as to the manufacturer behind these latest wonders on display.
I suspect that next years Porsche display at Petree Hall may have a decidedly RS focused theme, given the pending introduction of their brand new for 2015 GT3RS.
(All photos by the author)
The last picture show… the last thought on my mind as I pulled into the parking lot at 5:40 AM on the morning of Saturday, December 20, 2014. Normally at this hour there would have been space along Porsche row to park among my friends. However on this morning, all of the stops had been pulled out, and both sides of the row were filled (and not just by Porsches).
I knew there was the potential for this morning to be over the top regarding attendance, and even though I arrived earlier than usual, it quickly became apparent based upon the large crowd assembled, that the morning had the potential to deliver up an epic event.
And that’s exactly what it did…
My first stop was to visit with those friends parked along Porsche row, and check out the variety of cars assembled. Parked together as a group of 4 cars was this rare sight, and a unique collection of supercars. First up was the silver and orange Porsche GT3RS seen below.
Immediately to its left, was one very unique, 2015 Gulf Orange Porsche GT3. And this was not just any Gulf Orange GT3, but the sole 2015 GT3 to be painted and delivered in this rare color.
Parked to its left was another unique and also new 2015 GT3, in this instance a “PTS” (paint to sample) GT3 in Mexico Blue.
Rounding out this unique quartet was Porsches first model to be given the supercar moniker; one very rare, guards red 1988 Porsche 959S. Produced in limited quantities from 1986 through 1989, only 337 type 959 Porsches were built. And of those 337, twenty-nine were built as the 959S model (the even higher performance “Sport” option), as compared to the base model/”Komfort” package.
Porsches in classic 1970s and 1980s “jellybean” color palette…
Another of the classics on display in the featured lot was this early 1960s vintage Ferrari. As seen below, a beautiful black over red, Ferrari 250GT a.k.a. Ferrari Lusso. Produced in very limited quantity, this 250GT Lusso represents one of only 351 examples built between 1963 and 1964.
One of the many Porsche GT3s present on this morning…
and what one smartly dressed Porsche GT3RS was wearing; a fresh set of BBS (E88), 3 piece modular race wheels as seen below.
And did I mention the crowds?
Below is an example of the volume of excess vehicle overflow that was experienced Saturday morning December 20th. The rear parking lot at the recently completed Marriott hotel suddenly filled, becoming an extension of the primary show, as did the Yardhouse restaurant parking lot located to the west.
Fortunately, the ever-present Irvine P.D. quickly assumed the role of pedestrian traffic control.
Unfortunately many of those that arrived late only to find closed parking, and who were turned away, responded by making less than gracious comments to the long time hosts of cars&coffee, in the form of obscenity laden rants. So wrong on so many levels, and with their ultimate impact yet to be realized.
Back over at the main parking lot, the crowds continued to swell.
Making my way back along Porsche row, and with the morning haze burning off, I witnessed firsthand, the previously muted colors come to life, delivering up their full intense, saturated color.
Parked at the end of the rainbow-hued collection of Porsches, and next to the blue 914/6, was a study in contrast; a monochrome 911 beauty in Slate Gray, and on display courtesy of the company Autokennel. One very cool 1973 911 RSR / ST backdated recreation, the car’s owner having used a 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 as the foundation for his project.
A close up of its modified, 3.2 liter, carburetted twin plug flat six.
A little further down the row was the sole Porsche to come decorated for the holidays, appropriate since we were only five days away from Christmas.
The remaining three Porsches parked together on Porsche row, each representing a different model range. Starting with the car in the foreground, the red 1966 Porsche 911, represented the 1965 – 1973 ” Long hood” series. Parked In the middle, was the silver Porsche 993 Carrera representing the 1995 – mid 1998 model series. Last but not least, was the red Porsche 911 Carrera coupe, representing the 1984 -1989, “Short hood” model range.
As the morning progressed, the high scattered cloud cover delivered up some great reflections, which could be found on any of the dark-colored cars…
An instance of the old and the new; the silver, 1966 Porsche 912, and a brand new white, 2015 Porsche GT3.
Mirror, mirror on the door…
Another of the events weekly participants over the past six years, complete with vintage luggage.
A recently restored 1973 Porsche 911E, with its flawless slate gray paint finish…
and representing BMW, one of a handful of beautifully turned out models. As seen below, a pristine example of a pre-1974 BMW 2002 Tii.
Parked side by side, and located out on the very back row, was this pair of white, highly modified Nissan GTRs (below)…
and each with a unique approach to engine compartment aesthetics.
In stark contrast, and parked several rows over to the west, was this classic, work in progress Chevrolet pick-up truck…
complete with a transplanted V8, and pin striped firewall.
Another of the highly modified, standout Porsche 911s present the morning of December 20th. One Viper Green, 1973 Carrera RSR recreation, complete with an updated 3.6 liter motor.
A close up view of the European spec, amber H4 headlight lens (as equipped on 1970s vintage Porsche 911s destined for delivery in France).
And a treasure trove of detail revealed up front;
As observed; a fiberglass front hood, painted on the outside, but with an underside left unpainted, revealing and the fiberglass hood skin, and the period correct, strategically placed balsa wood stiffeners. Another unique detail was the relocation of the fuel filler; repositioned to the inside of the trunk area by the left fender, thus avoiding the need to cut a hole into the front hood. And lastly, to deliver race car handling and provide front suspension rigidity, was the massive silver, triangulated RSR inspired strut bar.
Representing a few of the motorcycle contingent present the morning of December 20th, as seen below;
One very cool Moto-Guzzi…
and to its right, a Norton Commando 967.
Around the corner, at the opposite end or motorcycle row was one crazy, custom-built, Honda 6 cylinder street racer. Hearing this motorcycle start-up and run was truly unique.
Last up, and only revealed once the crowds began to thin, was another trio of Porsches mimicking a reverse Oreo cookie. The three cars represented Porsche styling from mild to wild; starting on the right, a 1986 911 Carrera, with a stock Narrow body. In the middle, a black 1987 Porsche 930 turbo, complete with the front and rear turbo flares and signature whale tail rear wing. To its left was the Porsche representing “wild”; the white Porsche 964 turbo, having been given the “RWB”(Rauh-Welt Begriff) treatment. Typical modifications comprise wide body fender flares, suspension alterations and custom wheel upgrades. The unique signature wheels found on RWB Porsches are 3 piece forged modular “Tarmacs”, sourced from the local custom wheel company fifteen52 ( fifteen52.us).
Even the rear wing received the RWB treatment, which consists of the incorporation of a carbon fiber, Porsche GT2 EVO top wing element, complete with custom end plates.
And with that, the mornings gathering came to a close. After discussing our plans to meet up the following week for the last cars&coffee/Irvine, which would include a post event breakfast caravan, we all headed off to our respective destinations.
Unfortunately, Sunday morning did not get off to a smooth start, the result of an email blast that was sent out from the organizers of cars&coffee /Irvine.
The email stated that due to the massive crowds that showed up for the December 20th event, and because of the excessive overcrowding experienced, and their fear for the participants safety, the following gathering on December 27th was regretfully being cancelled. Thus, the December 20, 2014 / “next to last event” had in fact become the final cars&coffee/Irvine gathering that we all would attend. After the initial shock wore off, along with my anger towards those who had been so rude towards the event organizers, I went to work on creating this blog post as a way to celebrate what I had discovered my very first time attending cars&coffee back in 2008. The event was truly about the cars and their owners, the stories shared each week with each new discovery, and the friendships made. In my six years of weekly attendance, the kindness of those in attendance far outweighed the rare occasions of rudeness that did occur, and that occurred on Saturday. A huge thank you is owed to the organizers John and Linda Clinard, Freeman Thomas and the host of volunteers, who over the years made each weeks gathering a huge success. And a big thank you to the catering team, who each week served up a smile with every hot coffee, hot chocolate, donut, or breakfast burritos, to keep the participants well fueled for their Saturday morning adventures.
On a positive note, by Monday morning an email was distributed to many within the Porsche community, announcing the creation of a new, Saturday morning car show to be located in Orange County. An event that I have now taken to calling “Porsches and Pastries”, even though attendance is open to all makes of car. So far, the event has experienced three successful weeks of growth based solely upon word of mouth. Should any of you be interested in attending, drop me an email for directions…
So here’s to the continued success and growth of our new, Saturday morning car show.
(All photos by the author)