It says perhaps more about me than it does Patrick Long that I still refer to him as a “young gun” in motorsport. He joined the Porsche factory squad in his twenties, and I’ve kind of always thought of him as being youthful and exuberant. Time marches on for all of us, including the incredibly talented Patrick Long, who is now in his forties. After the SoCal native spent the early part of his career running open wheel and ultimately lost the Red Bull Formula 1 Driver Search contest to fellow American Scott Speed, he was given an opportunity to switch to tin tops and race GT cars with Porsche as a Junior driver in 2003.
Many drivers and fans at the time saw this as a step backward for Long, but look where that contract signing got him. Not only has he raced at the top level of prototype sports cars, won multiple championships, and driven some of the most exciting race cars in the world, but he’s also built a successful events and merchandise empire on the back of his devotion to the Porsche brand with Luftgekuhlt.
It’s safe to say that there are very few people in the world more devoted to the Porsche brand than Patrick Long. With Stuttgart power at his back Long has won the Bathurst 12 Hour, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and two Le Mans 24s. Along with all of those legendary races Long has a trio of ALMS championships and a pair of Pirelli World Challenge titles to his name. More than his talent behind the wheel or his trophy room, Long has gained a reputation among the paddock as a genuinely nice guy and the kind of person you’d want to hang out with. His knowledge of the history of Porsche has expanded with every year he has been part of the factory team, to the point where you’d be hard pressed to find someone more Porsche savvy than him.
For the non-race fans among our readers, you might know Pat Long best as a co-founder of the aircooled Porsche show called Luftgekuhlt. Dreamed up between Long and Howie Idelson, the show has taken off into the stratosphere of mainstream car fan consciousness. The event is always second to none, cutting zero corners and working to be better every single year. It’s a creative Porsche person’s play place, and I continue to be impressed by the show’s versatility and ability to blend with ever cooler venues.
“My passion for motorsports has not lessened since the first time I sat in a kart,” Long said. “In fact, I would say it is greater than ever before. But, in the last several months I have recognized that the focus of that passion has gradually shifted. I still love to race, to make a Porsche do what I want it to do and, most of all, to win. But that passion is now more fulfilled by taking part in the bigger picture. To support the brand that has supported me and to help usher in a future of Porsche Motorsport that holds true to where Porsche came from.”
Following Saturday’s Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta, Long will step down from the driver’s seat. From then onward he will shift to a more relaxed role within the Porsche brand as “Ambassador for Porsche Cars North America” which seems fitting. I can’t think of a better ambassador than Pat Long.