News & Stories

Rennsport by the Numbers

October 5, 2018 In the News

By John Lamm

First comes 4 — the number of days Porsche was celebrated at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in late September. Next is VI, as in the sixth Rennsport Reunion, Porsche’s triennial celebration of its racing heritage. And the biggest number of all? This edition of Rennsport, Sept. 27 to 30, attracted a record 81,550 fans, eclipsing the previous event in 2015 by more than 20,000.

In a fitting coincidence, 2018 is the 70th anniversary of the first Porsche, and the 70th year for that most honored of American Porsche drivers, three-time Le Mans winner Hurley Haywood. Happy birthday, Hurley.

They were hard to count, but some 50 legendary Porsche drivers were at Rennsport, signing autographs, giving interviews — and otherwise generally being venerated. They included Jacky Ickx, Timo Bernhard, Derek Bell, Jürgen Barth, David Donohue, Vic Elford and George Follmer. It was estimated that 500 historic Porsches were on site, with 350 competing in the races. The Miles Collier Collection at the Revs Institute brought seven cars from Naples, Florida: its RS-60, 907, 908 LH, 910, 911R, 917 PA and, to race, the 908/2 Flunder. The collection scored two victories, with Gunnar Jeannette winning the Werks Trophy in the 908/2 and the 907 taking an award in the Friday afternoon concours.

The Porsche Club of America corral contained some 1,600 Porsches, the vast majority 911s. Who knows how many Porsches in total transported fans to Laguna Seca, on California’s Monterey Peninsula. But they were overflowing into areas that are rarely needed for general parking. Then again, it takes quite a few cars and trucks to bring 81,550 spectators to the track. It was the highest attendance at Laguna Seca in the past five years.

Porsches raced in 7 classes ranging from vintage models in the Gmund Cup class, to world championship machines vying for the Flacht Cup. Anyone who knows Porsches knows the important numbers: 356, 550, 906, 908, 910, 911, 917, 993 … and on and on.

Oh, and Junior, Master, Standard and Super, the model names of the Porsche tractors that had their own race, complete with a Le Mans start and a few farmers’ bib overalls.

There was, of course, more to Rennsport than just numbers. Witnessing Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, lapping Laguna in Porsche number 1. The 917 Can-Am cars cresting the top of the Corkscrew, then howling down to the Rainey Curve. Wandering the Chopard Heritage Display tent, working your way through Porsche history, car by car. The 911s braking hard for Turn 11 and 934s pedal down, accelerating up the front straight. The sounds.

And to give you a look at Rennsport, we offer a gallery of 36 images. Enjoy.

Gunnar Jeannette rushes down the Corkscrew in the 1968 Porsche 908/2 Flunder from the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute. Jeannette won handily in Saturday’s Werks Trophy race competing against other Porsche prototype racers including examples of the 906, 908, 910 and 917. Photo: John Lamm

One of the most historic of Porsche race cars, 356 Gmund SL chassis 036. At Le Mans in 1951, it was driven to a class win by Auguste Veuillet and Edmond Mouche. The car was later sold to an owner in the U.S., where John von Neumann chopped off the roof to lighten it and 036 became a well-known race car in California. Porsche collector Cameron Healy found the car and had it restored to its original Le Mans configuration. Photo: John Lamm

In the back of Porsche’s RS-60 is an air-cooled, 1.7-liter flat-4 with 170 horsepower. One of this car’s most famous drives was in the 1961 Nürburgring 1,000-km race piloted by the legendary Stirling Moss … until the engine gave out. Photo: John Lamm

The Porsche RS-60 from the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute is famous for winning Sicily’s tortuous Targa Florio in 1960. Victorious against more powerful Ferraris on Italian soil, the RS-60s were known as “giant killers.” Photo: John Lamm

In the 1968 12 Hours of Sebring, this Porsche 907 driven by Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann scored a dominant win. Converted to a street machine, it went through an extensive restoration back to race form at Revs. Photo: Johnny Miles

At the Friday night concours, the 1968 Porsche 907 from the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute won a special award. Called the Bill Warner Trophy, it was personally presented by Warner, founder of Florida’s Amelia Island Concours and Grand Marshall of the Rennsport Reunion. Photo: Johnny Miles

While the 908/2 short-tail Flunder from Revs was on the track, another 908 from the collection was on display in the Chopard tent. Called a 908 LH with its long-tail bodywork, it won the 1969 1,000-km race at the very fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Photo: Johnny Miles

A sentimental winner, this Porsche 910/6 from the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute took the automaker’s first major win at the Nürburgring. That was in 1967, powered by a 220-horsepower flat six and with an American driver, Joe Buzzetta, teamed with German Udo Schütz. Photo: John Lamm

It’s always easy to spot Gunnar Jeannette’s colorful helmet, here popping out of the Porsche Flunder. This very car scored a major victory in the U.S. at the 1969 Watkins Glen 6 Hours. Photo: Johnny Miles

Head of the line at Rennsport’s Friday pit lane concours is the Revs 908/2 Flunder next to the Porsche 906 of famed automotive photographer Jeff Zwart. These were the calm moments of concours judging. Once the crowd was let in, the cars were swamped. Photo: John Lamm

Porsche ran into problems homologating its lightweight 9llR and so only 23 were assembled. This one from the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute was on display at the Chopard historic Porsche display. Its major victory was in the 1969 Tour de France co-driven by Gérard Larrousse, who was also at Rennsport VI. Photo: Johnny Miles

The grandfather of Porsche’s 917 Can-Am cars. It is called the 917 PA, the initials for the Porsche+Audi division that sponsored the effort in the lucrative U.S. market. It is now in the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute. Photo: Johnny Miles

Power for the 917 PA came from a 4.5-liter, 580-horsepower flat-12. Driven by Jo Siffert for the 1969 Can-Am season, the results were impressive enough for Porsche to develop its Can-Am cars that would win the series title. Photo: John Lamm

In theory this was a homologated street machine, but in fact the 1998 911 GT1-98 was designed for one purpose: win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite the challenge of Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, Porsche managed a 1-2 in the French classic in 1998. Photo: John Lamm

Tucking inside a 917K in Laguna’s Turn 11 is a 908/2 with its distinctive Hollywood paint scheme. Photo: Johnny Miles

Arguably the most famous livery for Porsche’s 917Ks was the Gulf blue and orange of John Wyer’s team. There was a pair of Gulf 917Ks at Rennsport VI, this one driven by Chris MacAllister. Photo: John Lamm

Chris MacAllister into Turn 11 with his 917K. In 1970, this car — chassis 016 — won at Brands Hatch, Monza and Watkins Glen. Photo: John Lamm

The memories this image brings back to those who were at Laguna Seca to watch the Can-Am races: a pair of 917/10s rushing down Laguna’s Corkscrew. One of the original drivers of the L&M car, George Follmer, was at Rennsport VI. Photo: John Lamm

Even more successful than the 917s, Porsche’s 919 gas/electric hybrids won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship three times: in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Photo: John Lamm

A sleek beauty, the Type 64 or Type 60K10. Looking like a VW Beetle on steroids, one was meant to compete in the 1939 Berlin-Rome race, which was cancelled by the start of World War II. Said to have around 40 horsepower, apparently three were made and only two remain. Photo: John Lamm

One of the technical geniuses who works on cars in the Miles Collier Collections at the Revs Institute is Dave Klym. In 1977, he founded Fabcar, which fabricated everything from Indy cars to Can-Am machines. One of Fabcar’s most famous creations was this 935, which was built for famed racer Bob Akin and driven at Rennsport by another Porsche ace, Patrick Long. Photo: John Lamm

Combine a Porsche engine with a Cooper chassis and what do you get? A Pooper. In about 1953, Gordon “Tippy” Lipe managed to fit a Porsche 1,500-cc engine into a Cooper Mk7 transverse-leaf-spring chassis. This is separate from the Pete Lovely-built “Lovely Pooper.” Well known Porsche racer Cameron Healy now enthusiastically races the Pooper and judging by the photo here the Le Mans-winning Porsche drivers look down on him with favor. Photo: John Lamm

Two originals: the first Porsche, chassis number 1 being driven by Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and now the chairman of Porsche AG’s Supervisory Board. Photo: John Lamm

After its win with a 917 at Le Mans in 1970, Porsche came back to win again in 1971. This is the 917 KH that won. It was driven by Dr. Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep, who is in the background with the red shirt. This 600-horsepower 917 had an ultralight magnesium frame and the famed Martini Racing livery. Photo: John Lamm

It can’t be a Rennsport without Hurley Haywood, a premier Porsche driver and winner of the Daytona 24-Hour five times, Le Mans three times and the 12 Hours of Sebring twice. Here, he tops the Corkscrew in the 917/10 he raced in the period for Brumos. Photo: John Lamm

OK, pick a favorite. On the left is Porsche’s 919 Tribute to the three-time Le Mans winner. On the right, the Penske 917/30 raced so successfully by Mark Donohue. Photo: Johnny Miles

Porsche’s latest crowd-pleaser, the 918 Spyder, a mid-engine plug-in hybrid. With its 4.6-liter V-8 and a pair of electric motors, it sends about 875 horsepower through a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic. Photo: Johnny Miles

One of the most iconic profiles in motorsports, Porsche’s 935 K3. This one has the well-known Jägermeister livery. And it was raced by John Fitzpatrick, seen here rounding Laguna’s Turn 11. Photo: Johnny Miles

Hope you have a big piggy bank. You’d need just shy of $820,000 to buy one of Porsche’s latest, the new 935. Based on the GT2 RS, it has a body reminiscent of the automaker’s famous Moby Dick 935 race car. Not even close to street legal, the new 935 boasts 700 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Get in line quick: Porsche is building only 77. Photo: John Lamm

Rennsport’s Stuttgart Cup brought such familiar entries as this pair of 962s from the mid-1980s, nose-to-tail in Turn 5. Photo: John Lamm

Porsche’s off-road wonder, the 1984 300-horsepower, 4-wheel drive 953. René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne won the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally in a 953 similar to this one. Photo: Johnny Miles

Porsche’s RS Spyders had a very successful run in 2006-2009, thanks mainly to the efforts of Roger Penske’s team. RS Spyders won the ALMS LMP2 Championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008, including an overall win in the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring. The cars also nabbed class wins at Le Mans in 2008 and 2009. Photo: Johnny Miles

Glöckler isn’t necessarily a name associated with Porsche, but his race cars built in association with Porsche laid the groundwork for the automaker to get into competition. You can consider this the grandfather of Porsche’s 550 Spyders. Photo: John Lamm

Giddy-up! Yup, Ferdinand also designed tractors in four models: Junior, Master, Standard and Super. Rennsport even had a Le Mans start for the tractor race, which saw Patrick Long win the first of two such events during the weekend. Guess what they were called: Volk-Schleppers (People’s Tractors). And you can get one now for around $25,000. Photo: John Lamm

There were a lot of nicknames for the Porsche 917/20 — Pink Pig or Big Bertha — that was painted pink for Le Mans 1971 with dash-lines across the body simulating how a butcher might carve out the different cuts of pork. So why not paint a Porsche Diesel AP 18 in the same scheme for the tractor race? Up in the saddle is famed rock star John Oates, of Hall & Oates. Photo: John Lamm

And why not use the same paint treatment on one of the Panamera shuttles that zipped attendees back and forth between the paddock and the Corkscrew? Here it is passing the impressive Chopard-sponsored Heritage Display tent. Photo: Johnny Miles

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John Lamm started his automotive journalism career in 1965 as a racing photographer for Autoweek magazine. After a tour in Vietnam, he joined Motor Trend in 1969, then Road & Track in 1975, where he worked for 37 years. He has also written for Car and Driver and Automobile magazines. Credits include 10 books and Lamm has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor awards for writing. Lamm’s photo archives include hundreds of thousands of images ranging from an 1893 Benz Victoria to many of the latest automobiles. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades. Lamm lives in San Clemente, California with his wife, Scheri.

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