Growing up in Southern California, it’s difficult for a young boy not to be influenced by the car culture present in everyday life. It didn’t hurt that my grandfather was passionate about Mercedes Benz automobiles, and throughout his life was fortunate enough to own a variety of models. Going for drives with my grandfather, and spending time with him in the garage while he worked on his car, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the garage environment was just the start. As were the times spent listening to his stories of traveling with my grandmother to europe to take delivery of a new Mercedes 280 SL, and his high speed runs down the autobahn (while my grandmother was asleep), also made for a lasting impression. As a result, and over time it became obvious that I was developing an appreciation and passion for all things automotive. However, it was my dad who stepped in and actually taught me how to wrench on cars, beginning with my basic training on our unsuspecting family cars. Fortunately his philosophy of “the right tool for the job” translated into a garage full of really cool hand tools. His early training has served me well over the years, and still does to this day.
Then at the age of twelve, I discovered the magic of the Porsche 911, one sunny summer afternoon while out riding my bike. It was red, with a black interior and chrome wheels, and belonged to a family that lived several blocks from my house. The profile of the car, combined with the curvature of the fenders and the fluid integration of the headlights, positioned to frame the front hood, had a huge collective impact. However, what completed this 911 encounter was hearing the exhaust note for the very first time, produced by it’s flat six motor. That unique, distinctive sound became imprinted in my memory from that day forward, and even today when I hear that familiar exhaust note, it still brings a smile to my face. Throughout that summer, each new encounter with the red Porsche 911 further cemented my resolve to one day own a Porsche 911 of my own.
Fast forward to my junior year of high school, and the start of my search for my first car. After looking at a variety of cars with my dad (non-porsche), and even after test driving a brand new Porsche 914 at my dad’s suggestion, I was still determined to find my 911. So I kept looking. And looking. Then one afternoon while out running an errand, there it was. Parked near the edge of a parking lot, with a for sale sign in the windshield, a Porsche 911. I turned my mom’s car around and went back to check it out. It was a 1966 911, silver with a black interior and riding on fuch 5 spoke alloy wheels. I wrote down the contact information and raced home to tell my dad about my discovery. Long story short, a call was made and a test drive was scheduled with the owner. After a brief drive behind the wheel by both myself and my dad, a decision was made. Later that afternoon, after emptying out my savings account, I was the new owner of a 1966 Porsche 911. And that became the start of the Porsche magic with my 1966 911, that lasted for 14 years.
It was during this time that my interests in photography and design really took off, and my dad and I began attending the sports car races held at Riverside raceway. With camera in hand, I began stalking my prey ( primarily Porsche’s), both at rest and at speed. As my skills developed further, along with my interest in photography, my dad suggested we set up a darkroom at home, so we could printing our own black and white and color prints. I also joined the Porsche Club of America, which gave me the opportunity to connect on a personal level with the Porsche community, and allowed further photographic access to a broader cross section of Porsche’s ( introductions to the Porsche 356 model range, as well as a variety of Porsche 911’s). My dad also became a Porsche convert, and after a brief search in 1973 purchased his first 911: a fully “S optioned”, silver 1973.5 911T.
Over time, our attendance at Riverside raceway, combined with the friends and contacts made within the Porsche community, began to generate some amazing photographic opportunities for my dad and I. We began by providing photos of Porsche race cars for several of the local race shops that built the race motors, as well as custom fabricators that designed and built custom bodywork for the Porsche 911’s competing in the GTU class, to the premier class of the series, the Porsche 935’s. We then began getting requests from some of the top race teams of the day (who happened to see our photos of their cars on display in the race shops that they worked with). This resulted in our being asked to shoot for them at upcoming races. This was an amazing experience in that we were given full access to the paddock area, as well as the pits, which afforded a unique perspective to the racing action (up close and personal), that one normally never has the chance to experience. We also had the opportunity to meet many of the top Porsche race drivers of the day competing in the IMSA series. One driver in particular (Jim Busby of Laguna Beach) became a friend, and as a result invited us out to Riverside Raceway to photo document a shake down / test session of his brand new Porsche 935. Words cannot do justice in describing the experience of being out at the track , talking with Jim and his mechanics, and watching the car be put through it’s paces. It was an absolutely amazing day, and one I will never forget. As the IMSA series evolved and the Porsche 935’s gave way to the GTP cars ( Lola T-70’s, March, Jaguar, Mazda and the mighty Porsche 962’s), we stayed in touch with Jim , and many of our photos ended up being given to his team sponsors as gifts.
Which brings me to today. I am still as passionate about Porsches as I was at twelve years old (my wife calls it my obsession). I am still connected to the Porsche community, and frequent a local car show on a weekly basis (Cars & Coffee / Irvine on Saturdays), with my 1986 Porsche Carrera coupe. My two sons have both inherited an interest in photography, and have each come into their own as skilled photographers, and also share my passion for Porsches. Since today is September 17 ( 9/17/11), I saw this as a sign of the perfect day to launch my blog. The Porsche 917 is revered as one of the all time classic, milestone Porsche race cars, and Porsche is once again bringing to market a newly redesigned 911, having undergone a considerable number of changes, yet still retaining it’s family profile. I just hope that the current Panamera influences creeping into this new 911 design quickly fade away, and Porsche discontinues the dilution of the original attributes that have made and kept it uniquely a 911…
(All photography by the author)