PART I | Go West Young Man!
(this article also published in the November 2015 issue of Carolinas’ PCA Tobacco Roads)
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 3 of the 5 Rennsport Reunions.
My first was back in 2007; I rode down to Daytona, FL with my partners in our race transporter where we set up in the infield on Nascar 2 to host an informal PCA/RGruppe gathering spot with a great view of the action. Then again in 2011, this time flying to the event in Monterey, CA, to support & represent our fledgling product company, where I experienced Laguna Seca from the rental car. However, this year I had the opportunity to drive out to Rennsport – in my 1972 911.
What follows is a brief synopsis of my two week journey, in an attempt to preserve the experience by chronicling it, both for myself and for anyone else who might be entertained by such a retelling.
I’d made hotel reservations and purchased the appropriate tickets and passes as soon as the dates for Rennsport were announced, long before the actual event, and before Porsche decided to reschedule the entire thing to work around their WEC/919 Fuji race schedule. After the mad scramble to change reservations resulting from Porsche’s date change in January was concluded, I promptly forgot about both the tickets and the reservations, focusing instead on day-to-day matters at the shop.
That is, until the third week of September; when fortunately, the envelope containing the Rennsport tickets and Corral passes was too large to feed into the shredder unopened. As you might expect, after having almost destroyed my tickets, I was suddenly and remarkably quite able to focus on the upcoming trip.
I know that with any travel of significant distance, preparations should be made before the fact. True to form, I therefore began prepping the car itself almost a full day before departure – by both replacing the throttle bodies (the 1972 US delivery 911s were all mechanical fuel injected models and mine had a tendency to go unusually lean after heating up) and by raising the chassis for additional clearance (just in case.) As many of you already know, both of these are time consuming jobs.
– And so, as to be expected, I was still finalizing the ride height and aligning the car on the morning of my departure. Still, I wasn’t too worried about it; I had a relatively short first day of travel ahead of me and four entire days to get to Monterey!
Thus Saturday September 19, saw me packing and leaving by noon; headed from our shop outside of Charlotte, NC to Montgomery, AL to overnight with family (whom I owed a long overdue visit.) I’d packed the 911 with as much bottled water, Red Bull, granola bars and Brad Penn as I could fit around the seats and on the floor boards and installed a wideband O2 sensor to monitor and correspondingly tune the MFI system en route. I was also going to be road-testing some prototypes of our rear spring plate bushings (reproductions of the 1974 RSR part that I’d installed on the car the previous evening) – it was a work trip, after all. 😉
The 435 miles to Montgomery took the majority of the first day, on account of several stops to adjust the MFI pump, and an extended stay in a gas station parking lot to swap the driver and passenger seats (which happen to be reproductions of two different styles of historic competition seats) back & forth to alleviate some knee pain that I was already experiencing in the more ‘competition-oriented’ of the two.
I arrived at my Aunt & Uncle’s home around 7:30 and spent my evening in their driveway re-drilling the seat sliders and mounts to lower the newly swapped driver’s seat as far as possible – as I still had a lot of driving ahead of me and my right knee wasn’t being a team player.
Rested and with a surprisingly improved seating position, I made an early start of it Sunday, departing Montgomery around 6:00am, with 660 or so miles to get to Plano, TX where I’d be overnighting with a friend and business partner in order to join a multi-Porsche convoy the following day. Because of the early departure and a beautiful morning, I had roads to myself and could enjoy the peaceful, solitary drive through Selma and on to the interstate.
Less than an hour into the trip on the first day I’d realized the benefit of wearing earbuds. The wind noise in the Targa is a cacophony of buffeting and booming from the fabric top, aging seals, opened break glass in the front vent windows, and the windows themselves (which pretty much have to be open in the warmer months.) In my car, all of this is being underwritten by the sport muffler and the combined noise can be ‘intrusive’ – to put it mildly. Earbuds (like the Ipod variety) buffer a lot of those frequencies without obscuring road sounds and are a welcome addition to a long drive without actually plugging them in to anything. By the second day, however, I was already appreciating having something to play through them. Appropriately enough for my tastes, the early Sunday morning drive through Alabama was accompanied by Nina Simone.
(en route to Selma.)
Despite a few tuning stops – one occurring remarkably at the foot of a monument marking the location of Talisi, visited by De Soto in 1540 – I made good time, crossing the mighty Mississippi around 2pm.
(at this point I informed a friend via social media that he’d lost his wager that the old 911 wouldn’t make it to the River.) J
Subsequently, I made Plano TX by 8pm, followed by a quick dinner and a bit of prep for a long day of driving the next morning.
My partner Bob and I left Plano Monday morning around 5am to meet up with our travel group at a nearby exit in Denton TX. The group was to be one car short; we’d gotten news the previous evening that a fellow RGruppe member and friend of ours (Chris) had caught the front cross member below his 1966 911R-type hot rod on a jutting, broken portion of the concrete slab of a bridge transition, which bent the cross member and bound the front suspension. (Remember my chassis raising exercise?) Although he could limp it to a nearby shop, he would not make the rendezvous in Texas. With Chris out of action our convoy consisted of 5 Porsches: Bob’s ‘08 GT3, Ed’s ‘67 911S (Ed Mayo, www.mayoperformance.com , a virtual guru of early Porsches), Mark’s ‘74 914/6, Kevin’s ‘86 911 Carrera, and my ’72 911.
(Tuesday’s soundtrack was a series of podcast of all varieties; including but not limited to Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism while crossing the great state of Texas)
We made Albuquerque in time for a casual dinner with another couple of vintage 911s; folks who’d be leaving the following day for their own drive to Rennsport. After stretching our legs a bit, we were back on the road to Winslow.
We’d made the 901 miles from Denton, TX to Winslow, AZ as an undulating Porsche convoy, arriving at the La Posada Hotel before 9pm. If you’ve never been to the La Posada, you should try to visit at least once (http://www.laposada.org/) – it’s a fantastic, historic hotel that doubles as an art gallery and has an award-winning restaurant among other things.
Interestingly, I was a guest in the Wiley Hardeman Post room; Post having been the first pilot to fly solo around the world. I noted the parallel between adventurer Post and myself (beginning and ending with “travelling solo” – and even then a stretch.)
Chris from Tulsa finally arrived in his ’66 911R sometime after midnight, having driven all day after the emergency repair to catch up with us.
That’s it for PART I; I’ll be posting PART II | Rennsport Treffen in a few weeks.
Thanks for following along!