This weekend, the fifth edition of Porsche Rennsport Reunion transformed the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey into a true Porsche walhalla. Take ideal weather conditions, add a staggering setup of cars and drivers ... automotive heaven set up camp in California last weekend.
At Porsche's centre feature in the paddock, the Legends of Le Mans display showed 3 of the most iconic cars in Porsche history; the 356, 917K and 919 Hybrid. Perhaps the most anticipated car was the #46 Porsche 365. This is the first Porsches works entry at the Le Mans in 1951, immediately winning its class (under 1500 cc) and finishing 20th overall. Since 1951, every year a Porsche has raced at Le Mans, another record streak that still stands today. The #23 red/white Porsche 917 K won the race at La Sarthe in 1970, the first outright Le Mans win for Porsche, with Richard Attwood and Hans Hermann at the wheel. 1970 was also the backdrop for Steve McQueen's Le Mans movie. The 919 Hybrid gave Porsche its record breaking 17th victory at Le Mans earlier this year. Porsche also intruduced a limited edition 911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Edition, of which only 25 will be produced. Pretty exclusive stuff !
Renn Reunion is not only about the cars, it's also about the legendary Porsche drivers who attend this event in big numbers and mingle inbetween the fans with interviews, autograph sessions ... Some "legends" that can be found around the paddock during the weekend are Vic Elford, Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood, Jürgen Barth, Gerard Larousse, Jackie Oliver, Jochen Mass, Gijs Van Lennep, Hans Stuck ... Besides the legends, lots of Porsche (factory)drivers are making their appearance this weekend. Fred Machowieky, Le Mans winners Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, Mark Webber, Patrick Long, Brendon Hartley, Norbert Singer ("father" of the Porsche 962) ... the list is endless.
Group 1 PCA Sholar-Friedman cup
This class is exclusively reserved for Porsche Club America cars
Group 2 Gmund Cup
Early Porsche racecars from the 1950's to the early 60's
550(A) - RSK - RS60-61 - 2000GT - Abarth Carrera - 356 - 904
Group 3 Eifel Trophy
All early 911's up to 2.5 litres and the 914
911 - 911TR - 911 ST - 914 (4 and 6)
Group 4 Weissach Cup
Porsche prototypes with fibreglass body's from the 1960's to 1971
904 - 906 - 907 - 908 - 909 - 917
Group 5 Carrera Trophy
All Porsche Carrera's over 2,5 liter : RSR - 3.0 RSR - 2.1 Turbo - 934 - 935 - 936 - 924 GTS - 924 GTR
Group 6 Stuttgart Cup
Protoypes and GT cars from 1982 to 2016 : 956 - 962 - GT1 - WSC - RS Spyder - 964 - 993 - 996 - 997 GT cars
Group 7 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
The seventh and final class is the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA which had its season finale and crowned Elloit Skeer in his rookie season as 2016 champion on Sunday.
During practice and qualifying track action was quite smooth, but as soon as the green flag falls down on race day, these cars are being used for what they're made for ... go fast and go hard. Close battles, yellow flags and safety cars are no exception during these hictoric races with expensive and rare machinery. Some end up in the gravel trap, the rather unlucky ones go home with some scratches and bruises on their bodywork. In the end it just feels right to see the racing heritage lives on, using these amazing cars to what they have truly been built for on a track instead of a museum. Watching these vintage racecars going round the track, takes you back into time ... when a racecar still sounded like a proper racecar should, and looked the part.
In 2001, the first edition of Rennsport Reunion attracted 2000 people, the last edition in 2011 34000 Porsche enthousiasts visited Laguna Seca. This weekend, during the fifth edition, over 57.000 people found their way to the track. As Detlev von Platen, president and CEO of Porsche cars north America said in his closing speech on Sunday afternoon, this whole weekend was more than just a gathering. "It was real magic, a pure Porsche paradise with a unique atmosphere bringing people together like a family reunion.
If you're a petrolhead, this event has to be on your bucketlist, there's no other place on earth where such a collection of Germans finest is on display. Next edition in 4 years, think I've got a date with Laguna Seca in 2020 !