Dozens of legendary Porsche drivers and hundreds of championship-winning and classic Porsche race cars will be in the spotlight as Porsche marks its 70th anniversary with the Thursday start of Rennsport Reunion VI. Tens of thousands of motorsports enthusiasts are expected at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California, for the festival that takes place every three to four years, hosted by Porsche Cars North America (PCNA).
Rennsport started in 2001 as a way to honor the Porsche motorsports legacy. It has become the largest gathering of Porsche cars and fans in the world. The 2018 “Marque of Champions” theme highlights the legends of the brand: championship-winning Porsche race cars, the engineers who designed them, and the men who drove them to victories around the world. This year has special meaning because it is the 70th anniversary of the first Porsche sports car, the 356 “No. 1” Roadster, which was registered on June 8, 1948.
“For us, Rennsport is a giant family reunion,” said Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of PCNA. “We are always thrilled when we get to celebrate our rich history and tradition alongside those who make the Porsche brand what it is — our car owners, fans, and drivers.”
Approximately 50 legendary drivers, 500 historic and customer cars, including 350 cars in competition, and the full Porsche Factory Team will be in attendance. As a highlight, the original 356 “No. 1” Roadster will be on display, giving all Porsche enthusiasts a look at the car whose shape, dynamic design, and lightweight construction has inspired all Porsche sports cars.
The sixth installment of Rennsport comes after more than 60,000 Porsche fans assembled for Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca in 2015, making it the biggest three-day gathering in the event’s history.
This year’s gathering will feature champion Porsche drivers including Hurley Haywood, Derek Bell, and Jacky Ickx, and 13 current Porsche Factory drivers, including 919 Hybrid EVO driver Timo Bernhard. The event also highlights legendary Porsche engineers, including Norbert Signer and Hans Mezger, two of history’s most influential race car creators.
Along with an impressive collection of Porsche cars, Rennsport will feature multiple autograph sessions, on-stage interviews with legendary drivers and Porsche executives, engineering and design seminars, as well as various games, giveaways, and meet-and-greets around the Porsche Park in the Paddock.
Thousands of members of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) will bring their prized Porsche cars to race and display in the 1,600-car PCA member corral. Along with daily PCA member parade laps, PCA Club Racing will have its own run group, capping off with Sunday’s finals.
Poster Children. Simon Celebrates Three Great Porsche Race Cars In Rennsport Reunion VI Artwork.
Crafted by noted automotive artist Dennis Simon of the Century of Speed studio, the poster for Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI celebrates the theme of “Champions”. The artwork highlights three very special Porsche champions from three distinct generations of the 70 years of Porsche motorsports: the 1960 Porsche 718 RS60, the 1984 Porsche 953 Group B rally car and the 2008 Porsche RS Spyder. All three race cars represent a ground shift in Porsche engineering expertise as well as resetting the standard for their respective motorsport categories of the time.
1960 Porsche 718 RS60 – With a double wishbone rear suspension and a larger Type 547/3 flat-four cylinder mid-mounted engine, this early predecessor of the modern Boxster won the first major endurance race for Porsche in 1960 at the 12 Hours of Sebring with drivers Hans Hermann and Olivier Gendebien.
1984 Porsche 953 Group B Rally Car – On the rough terrain of North and West Africa, the first all-wheel-drive step towards the revolutionary Porsche 959 utilized over 10.5 inches (27 centimeters) of wheel travel, a double wishbone suspension with double shock absorbers at the front and a reinforced rear axle with additional coil springs to capture victory at the Paris Dakar Rally. René Metge secured a Porsche victory in its class. It was the first win for a sports car at the multi-week rally.
2008 Porsche RS Spyder – Over a three-year period, the LMP2 class racer won three manufacturer championships in the American Le Mans Series, most notably winning the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring. That Sebring victory in the LMP2 class was the first win for a car outside the top prototype class in 14 years. The RS Spyder – which was named with a nod to the 550 Spyder of the 1950s – contributed to the development of the 918 Spyder super sports car and 919 Hybrid race car.
Simon, who created four of the previous five Rennsport Reunion posters, has featured many of the iconic Porsche race cars over the years on the commemorative artwork. Included in the Rennsport V art in 2015 were the Le Mans-winning 1970 24 Hours of 917 K and three-time World Endurance Championship LMP1 class-champion Porsche 919 Hybrid as well as the 356 SL that won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951. In 2011, Simon used the 1981 factory 935 Longtail, internationally recognized as “Moby Dick”, and Al Holbert’s 911 RSR from 1974 for the Rennsport IV art. Rennsport III, held in 2007, saw the renowned 917 and 962 prototypes in Gulf and Löwenbräu liveries while the poster for Rennsport II – held in 2004 – had three 908s crossing the finish line of the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona.
Al Holbert Remembered. 30-Year Anniversary of Passing of Porsche Legend.
Porsche will mark the 30th Anniversary of the untimely passing of Porsche racing legend Al Holbert with a special program Sunday on the main stage of Rennsport Reunion VI. Holbert, the first Director of Motorsports for Porsche North America – today’s equivalent position of Porsche Motorsport North America president and CEO – was killed in a private aircraft accident on September 30, 1988 near the Columbus, Ohio airport. Holbert was 41.
One of IMSA’s greatest drivers, the Pennsylvania-native and son of a Porsche racer (Bob Holbert), Al Holbert scored 63 race wins and 27 pole positions in North America’s premier sports car race series between 1974 and 1987. In addition to the victories in Holbert Racing Porsches – particularly well remembered is the iconic blue, white and gold No. 14 Löwenbräu Porsche 962 – the Lehigh University graduate scored three 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victories in 1983, 1986 and 1987 in Porsche 956 prototypes. He earned two 24 Hours of Daytona (1986, 1987) and 12 Hours of Sebring (1976 and 1981) wins during his career. At the conclusion of the GTP era, Holbert was tied for most wins in a single season, nine, achieved in 1985.
Holbert was instrumental in the creation of the Porsche 962, returning the German marque to North American prototype racing in 1984. When Porsche stopped the production of that chassis, Holbert Racing continued to build new and updated variants of the car for IMSA racing. Following his assignment to head all Porsche racing endeavors in the United States and Canada under the Porsche North America banner, the 1984 Indianapolis 500 fourth-place finisher launched the Porsche Indy car program in 1987. The team, with driver Teo Fabi, would score its lone victory in the CART championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1989.
As part of the special remembrance, two of Al Holbert’s closest contemporaries and friends, Derek Bell and Alwin Springer, will share their memories of the five-time IMSA Champion on Sunday, September 30 at 10:00 a.m. PT.
Electric Avenue. Porsche Electric Past and Future Shown at Rennsport.
Linking the rich history of Porsche cars to the future of e-mobility, the 356 “No. 1” Roadster will make an appearance along with the all-electric Concept Study Mission E at Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI, September 27 – 30, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The “No. 1” will be in the Porsche Paddock Hospitality area while the Concept Study Mission E will be shown in the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur area located on-site at the world-recognized Monterey, California-area race track. Other displays include more than 1,300 cars in the Porsche Club of America corrals and 70 significant race cars in the Porsche Heritage tent.
Fresh Air. PMNA To Introduce New Air Cooled Series to Potential Participants.
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) is gathering interested teams, car owners and racers at their Rennsport Reunion VI exhibit this week to discuss an exciting new initiative of president and CEO Dr. Daniel Armbruster. Armbruster and Program Manager Erik Skirmants will introduce the Porsche AirCooled Cup USA to potentially interested competitors and entrants on Saturday afternoon at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Series partner Competent Motorsport will be present to gather interest and share 2019 event opportunities.
Dr. Daniel Armbruster, President and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“The idea behind this new PMNA program is to take the unique culture of the air-cooled Porsche community, the proven Porsche Cup prestige and blend them into an experiential racing event.”
Erik Skirmants, Program Manager, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“We are looking for input from the community as a whole and will move forward with key influencers to build the foundation for the series. Development of the Porsche AirCooled Cup USA will be paralleled with PMNA-supported historic engine and gearbox programs that will extend air cooled racing, with Porsche Motorsport support, into the long term.”