We come to car brands for different reasons. Maybe your dad drove a car that became special to you. Or your uncle gave you a ride in one. Perhaps a cool car was featured in a movie you loved, or you remember the excitement of races seen either in person or on TV. Then you get deeper into a brand and learn about its history, its accomplishments, and the people who made it work. If you’re lucky, your appreciation grows by experiencing the cars, or buying one…or 10.
For the Porsche fan, there’s no greater celebration of the brand than the Rennsport Reunion. It started in 2001 as a public relations effort to reach out to Porsche fans, and has grown immensely since. Rennsport Reunion 7 took place Thursday, Sept. 28–Sunday, Oct. 1 at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca. The event coincided with the brand’s 75th anniversary, and appropriately, was the biggest yet with more than 91,000 fans in attendance.
Motor Authority was there to take in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of a legendary brand celebrating the cars and people that have created so many fans worldwide.
And there was plenty to see, starting with the action on the track. Throughout the event’s four days, more than 300 modern and historic cars grouped by era and speed, hit the circuit to the delight of drivers and fans. The vintage racing was done mostly for fun, but the Porsche Club of America also conducted club races that counted, and the final two rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America series were held at Rennsport.
In between the races, special cars such as the 356/1, the first Porsche prototype, that kicked off the sports car brand, and the 917/10 racer that dominated Can-Am in the 1970s, took parade laps. Also featured on the track was a hilarious race of Porsche tractors piloted by legendary racers.
Speaking of legends, several successful drivers from Porsche’s past were on hand to drive the cars and act as brand ambassadors. Among the names were Derek Bell, Dick Barbour, Joerg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard, David Donohue, Romain Dumas, George Folmer, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Jacky Ickx, Leh Keen, Arie Luyendyk, Brian Redman, Danny Sullivan, Mark Webber, Jeff Zwart, and co-Grand Marshall Patrick Long. Long was joined by Alwin Springer as the other co-Grand Marshall. Springer spent almost six decades as an engineer, manager, and executive advancing Porsche motorsports.
Porsche also used the event to make some news. Webber introduced the brand’s latest special edition, the 611-hp Porsche 911 GT3 R Rennsport, a million-dollar track-only special limited to 77 units. Porsche racer and brand ambassador Patrick Dempsey and watch brand Tag Heuer showed a 718 Cayman GT4 RS that Dempsey will drive in the Carrera Panamericana. The finale of the Porsche Esports Championship took place in racing simulators, and a new champion was crowned. In the parking lot, competitors for a Porsche restoration challenge were on display and three winners were chosen.
The parking lot itself was an outstanding car show in its own right. Fans drove Porsches of every stripe to the event and parked with cars by era, with gleaming, rounded sheetmetal bringing color to the arid landscape. Onlookers could sidle up close to the race cars in the paddock, and Porsche had displays of several important new models and concepts, including the including Mission X concept, the Vision 357 Speedster concept, and the new 911 S/T. Also on hand were Mirage, the 911 Carrera RS 3.8 from the latest “Transformers” movie, the Sonderwunsch-built Sally Carrera inspired by the “Cars” movies, the cartoony Lightning McQueen and Sally Carrera full-size models also from “Cars,” and a safari-style 944 that got turned into a Hot Wheels car.
Most of these cars were shown in a central square by the main stage. The stage was the sight of a keg-tapping to kick off the event, and several curated talks featuring racers, Porsche personalities, and brand information.
In this gallery you can see many of the sights of Rennsport Reunion 7. You won’t be able to hear the angry bee howl of the cars, smell of the exhaust, or meet the people. For that, may I recommend attending Rennsport Reunion 8, which should be held at the same place four years from now.
Porsche paid for travel and lodging for Motor Authority to experience a celebration of its legendary brand.
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