We feel sorry for whoever is given the unenviable task of organising the next Rennsport Reunion. How on earth are they going to top the biggest Porsche festival in the world that also happened to celebrate Porsche’s 70th birthday? Laguna Seca was dripping in so much extraordinary metal that even something like a 959 frankly became a bit average after our fourth day here.
Where to start? The 919 Evo was there, tearing up the track for the last time before it’s wrapped in cotton wool and put on display in the Porsche Museum. The very first Porsche got an airing around Laguna Seca, driven by Dr Porsche himself.
There were 908s, 917s, 910s, 956s, 962s, RSRs, an entire tent stuffed full of beautiful 356s, vintage 911s, modern 911s and, this being California, enough lowered and modified 911s to give Porsche’s compliance department a coronary.
There was even a world premier unveiling. The new Porsche 935 was greeted with plenty of whooping and hollering (we were in America, folks), but up close, it’s a mighty thing to behold with the sort of detail aero work that makes you think this is comfortably going to be the 991’s pinnacle. It’s easy to be cynical about Porsche wheeling out the 935 name again, but when you see the amount of effort that has gone into it, and the sheer bloody beauty of the thing, it’s hard not to be won over.
From metal to people, as there were personalities in abundance as well. Porsche had wheeled out drivers ranging from Vic Elford and Brian Redman right through to Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, via Derek Bell, Jacky Ickx and Gijs van Lennep – the whole Porsche roster was here.
Special mention should go to Norbert Singer, the engineer who had a hand in 16 of Porsche’s 19 Le Mans wins and worked on everything from the space-frame 908 to the turbo’d monsters like the 962 and the GT1. The old adage that you shouldn’t meet your heroes is definitely not true here – Singer is the sort of character that everyone should hang around, if nothing else just hoping that some osmosis might transfer a bit of his brain power your way. A real life history-maker with an addictive laugh and a mischievous sparkle in his eye.
But for us, the real trick that Porsche managed to pull off was the accessibility of it all. There were hardly any ropes around cars and the drivers mingled like they used to at circuits before catch fencing and PRs put them out of the reach of fans. For a massive corporate event, it felt remarkably relaxed. Roll on the next one.