Two Weeks in a 1972 911: Rennsport Reunion V
PART II | Rennsport Treffen
Tuesday morning Chris and I got on the road at 6:30 – we had a track event at Buttonwillow Raceway ( buttonwillowraceway.com ) the following morning (already?!), and both of us wanted to be able to get to California early enough to relax and get a good night’s sleep.
Heading west, the scenery was consistently and continuously impressive, one gorgeous vantage after another.
The rest of the group at the La Posada – which had grown by 3 additional late model Porsches overnight – headed out for Tonopah NV while Chris and I were making our way straight on to California.
They didn’t make it too far before meeting the local constabulary on US6:
(photo taken by Kevin Devlin whilst trying to avoid attracting attention to himself!)
Aside from that, and a free-range cattle highway crossing incident, and a thrown fan belt, the Tonopah, NV group had an uneventful route into California. 😉
On the other hand, back in Arizona, I had a heat-related issue with my starter at a fuel stop halfway through the day – in which it began to require a cool down period before it would operate. No problem, I’d probably get several days of this condition before I’d need to replace it, so we pressed on.
Hours later, somewhere near the Arizona/California border both of our 911s were struck by rocks thrown from the tires of a couple of adventure-style motorcycles – one of which cracked Chris’ windshield, and another knocking a hole through one of my driving light lenses – the first casualties of the trip. (I’ll be considering lamp guards in the future.)
Otherwise without incident, I made my hotel in Tehachapi, CA by late afternoon with plenty of time to relax and unwind for the evening. Chris had continued on to his hotel (nearer to Buttonwillow) to meet up with several other folks who would be joining us for the track day event the next morning.
Wednesday morning I made the 75 miles to Buttonwillow Raceway before sun-up. The track had been reserved for the RGruppe Sports Purpose Day, a part of the annual RGruppe Treffen gathering, and scheduled to coincide with this years’ Rennsport. I arrived early enough to do some last minute MFI tweaking before the gates opened, ahead of the rest of the group.
By the time things were rolling, there were around 30 vintage 911s present, and having the track to ourselves allowed us full 30-minute sessions throughout the day. And fortunately so, as I’ll freely admit that after an 8 year hiatus I was – ahem – rusty.
As the day progressed however, I was able to get back on the horse, so to speak, wrangling everything I could out of the heroic old Targa on her 185/70s, and while not quite redeeming myself for a humbling first session, I was able to get my brain/muscle memory back to where they used to be for track days, and had a great time.
I was having so much fun, in fact, that I literally ran the car out of fuel while executing a pass during my final session. (oops.) Premature and abbreviated cool down lap followed. 🙂
At the end of the day, as everyone else packed up and headed for a nearby dinner and hotel, I loaded up and headed off for Monterey where my wife (who’d flown in to San Francisco) was joining me at the hotel that evening for Rennsport.
(Incidentally, this involved a push-start – a hard day at the track had finished off the starter.)
Thursday through Sunday was a whirlwind of activity, too much so to report on with any faithfulness here, but involving both Porsche-related and local attractions combined. A repeat visit to Bruce Canepa’s amazing facility (http://canepa.com/canepa-difference/canepa-museum/) as well as visits to the National Steinbeck Center (http://www.steinbeck.org/), Cannery Row, and the Baja Cantina accentuated the RGruppe and Porsche Rennsport Reunion activities.
Notably, Friday morning found 83 vintage 911s in our hotel parking lot, and several hundred more Porsches in the Porsche Corral parking at the event itself. If there is a Close Encounters-equivalent gathering for Porsche enthusiasts, this is it.
During the day at Rennsport we were able to visit with old friends; Rod Emory (http://www.emorymotorsports.com/) who had just finished hand fabrication and restoration on the 1951 LeMans #46 356/2 SL (which Porsche displayed prominently alongside both 917 and 919 during the event); Hans Lapine, co-founder of Kundensport and modeler for Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen (we very much like the artistic guys, it’s true); Tony Callas (http://www.callasrennsport.com/); Patrick Long (no additional info needed here); and two my personal favorites in the field, Vic Elford and Gijs van Lennep. – And this is just to name a few; as a genuinely significant portion of the Porsche world gathers at Rennsport. (listing all of the notable folks that we ran into might require a spreadsheet!)
Even as Rennsport was in full swing, I’d begun preparations for the drive home. Being able to start the car by myself was a good first step: by this time, folks knew to scatter when I headed for the parking lot; by then they’d all had the privilege of helping me push-start. I’d taken time on Saturday to buy a proper jack and jack stands in order to install the replacement starter that Marco GeracE of TLG Auto (http://www.tlgauto.com/) brought to me at Buttonwillow few days before, and subsequently I replaced it in the hotel parking lot, as should be expected of anyone who would drive a 43 year old 911 across the country.
Rennsport came to a close on Sunday, September 26. The following morning, packed and fueled, I headed out for Kingman, AZ, the first leg of my return trip. My wife had taken the rental back to San Francisco to catch her return flight, and to be honest I was looking forward to heading East.
I passed a parade of 911s, 356s, and motorsport transporters on 101 as I left California under somber grey skies – I suppose the state itself felt a bit of melancholy after such an impressive event.
For a few miles that morning I shared the road with John Willhoit (http://www.willhoitautorestoration.com/) , until I turned East and California turned to desert where there wasn’t much to see (but when there was, it was pretty interesting.)
I’d finally run out of music and podcasts as I entered Monterey, so I traveled east with the earbuds unplugged; still appreciative of the minimal sound reduction they offered.
Somewhere along the way I pulled off of 40 onto Route 66 to fuel and ended up repairing a plug wire. (see title picture) So far, so good – considering the miles traveled!
– and that’ll do it for PART II; I’ll be posting PART III | Bring it home in a few weeks.
Thanks for following along!