Monterey, California – I know everyone has taken time to check out the great coverage of Rennsport Reunion V here on FLATSIXES.com. If you haven’t, go do that now! If you are on this web site, you owe it to yourself to read all about this incredible event from all the perspectives FLATSIXES.com is presenting it! Here, I wanted to offer my thoughts on the event from my standpoint. Thanks to everyone at FLATSIXES.com for letting me be the “man on the scene” from a participant’s point of view.
1. Autograph Sessions
A major highlight of every Rennsport Reunion are the multiple autograph sessions put on a couple of times a day. The idea is to let Porsche fans come and get autographs from their heroes. The thing is, the reality is, these autograph sessions are as big a deal for the participants, especially us younger guys, as they are for the Rennsport guests! It is as absolute who’s-who of Porsche racing history. To be asked to participate is almost dreamlike. When you sit down and look at the roughly 25 guys lined up with you, it becomes completely surreal! But, even beyond that, is the concept itself. The autograph session approach is pure Porsche. They understand the importance of the guys who made the cars, not just the guys who sit behind the wheel. Fans would go from a legendary driver like Vic Rice or Hans-Joachim Stuck, to a current factory guy like Wolf Henzler or Mark Webber and then up to an icon of the brand such as Hartmut Kristen or Norbert Singer. Who other than Porsche would honor the brain trust behind things like the Porsche 962 or the resurgence of Porsche GT racing in the last ten years? That doesn’t happen much anymore and it was cool to see. Porsche “gets it”.
Too often on our regular race weekends the joy of racing gets lost. You are too focused on the job at hand to sit back and swap stories with your fellow racers. But at Rennsport, all of that pressure is off. You can just lean back and start hearing about what it was like to charge down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans in a Porsche 917 or why the 956 morphed into the 962. The stories are so amazing that I could have sat at any dinner until the next day’s dinner just listening to the exchange. It was phenomenal to have all of that at your disposal… and be able to enjoy it!
3. A (Small) Part of History
I love what I do for a living. I get paid to do exactly what I want to do. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far in my career. However, I never really thought of myself as some part of racing history… especially Porsche history where the names make Hall of Fame lists look inadequate! I guess my ego isn’t big enough put myself in the category of the great drivers of the brand. However, being invited to Rennsport made me realize that I do have a small role in Porsche’s current motorsports history. What really brought that all into focus for me was seeing the Brumos Racing cars on display. While none of them were the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup GRAND-AM car I raced at Daytona, it still helped me feel a part of the thread linking the past to the present. To see the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR I raced to victory at Baltimore on display, and to get to run it in the qualifying race for Group 6, was pretty overwhelming. But the most humbling part for me was to have so many fans come up and tell me about their connection to that car. That makes me realize I am part of something very cool.
4. Keeping It In The Family
When my son was born, I swore he wouldn’t become a race car driver. I plan to put a tennis racket in his hand as soon as he can grip it. However, for the first time, my wife and I sat him in a car that I raced, the 2012 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. When I put him behind the wheel and he took hold of it with both hands, he was grinning ear-to-ear. My wife Jamie and I looked at each other and shared an ‘uh-oh’ look between us. To see your kid in a car you drove, and to know someone thought that car was enough a part of history to include it at Rennsport V, that is really special.
5. Enjoying the Moment
I mentioned before that being a professional race car driver is my dream come true. But it is also a job. As a result, unfortunately, we sometimes get lost in the details of the work and forget to look at the bigger picture. The pressure is so great and what is on the line is so high, that you just really can’t enjoy the moment. However, at Rennsport, I could sit in the car and enjoy every part of it! As I ran the qualifying race in the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, I let the sights and sounds of Rennsport come shining through. I could enjoy the pure enormity of the event and have fun! As I lapped the track I was serious about what I was doing but I also took the time to see the fans lining the fences watching every second of every race. It did a lot to refocus my energy going into Petit Le Mans a weekend later. It helped me remember why it is I do what I do!
Bonus Lap – I tried to shove Rennsport into five things that were special to me. However, I have a few that I just have to mention that we’ll call “bonus” coverage.
My favorite car (not including my own) at Rennsport Reunion V?
There were so many amazing cars in Monterey that it is very hard to point to a specific one and say “that is my favorite”. But, for me, I would have to say the Porsche RS Spyder stood out. Looking at that car today, it is still so relevant. It is still so sleek and fast. It always strikes a cord with me because I vividly remember watching some of the greatest prototype racing in history on track with me when Porsche and Penske ran those yellow and red cars in P2. You appreciate that car so much more when you are watching it battle from behind the wheel of a car from another class.
Biggest Surprise of the Weekend?
How very fast the Porsche 962 is! Those cars were the cornerstone of IMSA GTP racing and Group C in Europe and at Le Mans almost 30 years ago. Yet, when you watch them from the side of the track or through your windshield and mirrors, it is staggering how fast they still are!
What Put a Smile on My Face?
Everything about Rennsport Reunion V puts a smile on the face of a racing fan or a Porsche-phile! How can it not? But, the thing that I loved to see was that the races weren’t just exhibitions with museum-quality (and sometimes literally museum pieces) cars. These were races! As a professional driver, I took it somewhat cautiously knowing that my bank account couldn’t cover the cost of a fender on some of these cars. The owners, on the other hand, were foot to the floor all the time! They raced their cars hard and that was so great to see! Race cars, even multimillion dollar irreplaceable ones, demand to be on-track and driven with the same level of commitment they were designed for! And that pretty much sums up Rennsport Reunion: appreciating history at real time speeds!