Friday morning, the time on the clock reads four hundred hours. Reno is uncharacteristically quiet and calm at this time of day, as we’re only the city that nearly never sleeps. Thursday evening, I’d rolled my suitcase into the trunk of Project Boxster and packed a few bottles of water for the early morning journey. The traditional and easiest way west out of town is via I-80 across the Donner Pass. Everyone knows the historical significance of the Donner Pass, and when I announced my desire for breakfast, I’m sure my father in the passenger’s seat was intensely keen to see the Boxster make it through the pass unscathed. Once we’d stopped for a hot cup of coffee and a gnosh to quell the hunger pangs, we set our markers for the coast and didn’t look back for a couple of days.
My father was the person who ignited the constantly burning fire of automotive appreciation in my soul, and as my way of helping to repay that favor, I invited him to come with me to the Monterey peninsula for a three-day weekend (our truncated version of Monterey Car Week). I had a number of activities planned for our trip, and it was nice to spend some time with dear old Dad just chatting about cars for three days. While he’s more of a domestic car fanatic, and couldn’t tell a 356 Carrera GT from a 924 Carrera GT from a 980 Carrera GT, he still had an enjoyable time listening to me explain what all of the cars were and how the history of Porsche developed. For someone who’d never shown an interest in anything not made here, he was interested in learning the stories behind the cars. That was the most enjoyable part, for sure.
Friday morning was planned for the lovely and exciting Werks Reunion, a great event put on by the Porsche Club of America. Held at the Rancho Canada golf course, this year’s lawn was absolutely packed with lovely P-car machinery. Everything from vintage racing cars, including a gaggle of great machines from our friends at the Ingram Collection, all the way to the most current Porsches, including a gorgeous Basalt Black Cayman GT4 and a Viper Green 918 Spyder, both Paint-To-Sample cars.
Michelin and Porsche collaborated to bring together a 993 GT1, a 996 GT2, a 997 GT3, and a 981 GT4 for the first time ever. It was a great show, and it was definitely worth taking a trip out to see, regardless of the early rising time necessary to do so.
After the Werks Reunion show, my father and I took a drive down to Cannery Row for a bite to eat, and to check out the RM and Russo and Steele auction previews over by Fisherman’s Wharf. There wasn’t much in the way of Porsche content there, but RM/Sotheby’s did have a nice 930 sitting out on the plaza for all to see. There was also a quite nice 993 widebody car in our parking garage, and a G-series Carrera drove under the bridge while we were walking across, so of course I needed to snap a photo of that. Later that evening, I was invited to a Porsche VIP event, so we went back to the hotel so I could get cleaned up. The guests of honor were a gorgeous silver 904 GTS and its brand new baby brother, a Speed Yellow Cayman GT4. I didn’t catch the chassis number on the 904, but some Porsche representatives stated that it was possibly the most original 904 in existence. The GT4 was optioned nicely, as it had AC delete and radio delete. I was able to sit in it, but sadly was not given the keys. The VIP event was a nice opportunity to have a drink and relax with some other Porsche fanatics at the end of what was already a long day. The attendee list was a veritable who’s who of high-profile Porsche people, and it was a privilege to be able to be there among them.
Saturday was another early-riser in order to get to the track in time for the photography meeting. Once I’d signed my soul away, the track officials agreed to let me have a vest and gave me the combinations to the gate locks. It was still a little while before the cars would hit the track, so we decided to spend some time walking around the massive paddock to see everyone taking the covers off of their beautiful vintage racers, and grab a bite of breakfast while walking around. While the weekend was ostensibly dedicated to Ford’s Shelby Mustang GT350, the featured car, there were still dozens upon dozens of vintage Porsche cars around to look at. Many of the overseas cars were in attendance at the Motorsport Reunion because they’d be going to Rennsport Reunion in only a month’s time, and Porsche (and Laguna Seca) made sure everyone in attendance new that the next event wasn’t all that far off. Porsche North America actually toned down their presence this year, because it was “Ford’s time to shine” and because they knew that with Rennsport Reunion 5 rapidly approaching, they’d have plenty of time in the sun. Saturday’s races saw an excellent mix of on-track action, including some small bore 1950s cars (356s, Denzels, etc.), some massive-power Turbocharged monsters from the IMSA days (934s, 935s, RSRs, and the like), some of the FIA world championship type cars from the 60s and 70s (Jeff Zwart’s 906 and a pair of 908s), and a 1980s set of races that featured a small handful of 956s and 962s.
We left the track in the early afternoon in order to make it to the tail end of Concours D’LeMons just for the pure entertainment factor, less so for the Porsche content, though there was a nicely patinated longhood 911 in attendance. Primarily I just wanted to make it to the Gooding & Co. Auction for the night to see some of those premier lots before they sold. The 906 was almost too pretty to believe. The 904 had a few minor things wrong, including the wrong wheels, but 904s are my favorite Porsche, so I let it slide. The 956, again, was perfectly restored to almost too nice condition, you could definitely dub that one as a “museum quality piece”. The RS60 was fantastic. The 959 was amazing. Three Carrera 2.7 RS lots, including a pair of lightweights, and two RSRs were there, and each was more stunning than the last. Of all of them, though, the Pikes Peak Jeff Zwart 993 Turbo was the one I’d most want to have. I think the buyer of that lot got a particularly good deal. The auction ran pretty late, but we stayed for the whole thing. It was fun to see the level of excitement in that room that night.
The Sunday of car week is always a hard one. It means the trip is over. It means the weekend is over. It means a return to reality, but not quite yet…
Another early morning at the track gave us time to look at Porsche’s own curated displays. They’d brought not just one, but two 917s, including 917-001. There was also a display version of the 919 that Timo, Webber, and Hartley drove at Le Mans, the red car. There was time for more walks through the paddock, and more on-track action. The cars on track on Sunday were different runners from those on track on Saturday. In one of the morning sessions, I saw the little green 356 hucking around track and didn’t think much of it. A few laps in, I focused my lens on it and snapped a few long distance photos because something caught my eye. Something was different about this particular 356, and it only took one look to tell. It was an extremely rare 356 America Roadster, a lightweight pure-racing version of the 356 that was built specifically for club racers back in the early 1950s. While the majority of those ARs were alloy bodied, this particular car, after a bit of research, proved to be the only steel-bodied AR in the world. That car alone was worth the trip. It was brought out by Mr. Andy Prill of the UK, and for that I owe him a debt of gratitude.
Sessions on Sunday saw a handful of 2-liter 911s, a couple more 356s, and a whole lot of 356-esque racing specials, including more Denzels, a Porsche-Cooper, The Bobsy Porsche, the Pupulidy Special, and even a gorgeously original 550A Spyder, among others. There were a lot of Corvettes, Cobras, and Trans-Am Pony Cars on track on Saturday to keep Dad entertained, but there was a little less of the Porsche variety. We decided that we’d skip the auction on Sunday night and leave about mid-afternoon to get a jump on the 5 hour drive back to Reno. At the end of the three days, it was definitely worth the trip. I always love going to Monterey Car Week, but this year it was even more special, as I got to spend some time with my father. I got to hang out and talk about cars with him all weekend, but at the same time introduce him to my side of the car world. Who knows, maybe we’ll be back next year fielding one of his Mustangs in one of the big-bore classes, as unlikely as that sounds. Even less likely is that I’ve got him as interested in Porsches as I am. I can keep dreaming, though, right?