What a great summer for Porsche enthusiasts. I’m sitting here on the deck at a Steamboat condo composing this newsletter in my mind. It’s evening, a gentle rain is falling and I just drove the last lap at Steamboat. The Steamboat Vintage Race is no more. I’m looking at the new condos that mean we no longer get to race on the streets. I’m remembering all the great times this summer.
Off To Monterey
No sooner had we recovered from the great Steamboat Classic then it was off to Monterey. We had looked forward to this trip for two years (even had our condo reservation for two years). This was the big 50th anniversary celebration of Porsche. There would be a 356 West Coast Holiday, Vintage Races at Laguna Seca featuring Porsche and the Concours at Pebble Beach.
Barb thought about driving her Roadster but would have had to do it on her own as I had the Blazer packed with 356 parts for the big Swap Meet. She opted to ride with me. I did flat tow a C Coupe out to San Jose for a friend. We convoyed out with the Petitts. Norm was trailering his ’51 Coupe which was invited to race at Laguna Seca. (Over three thousand vintage race cars applied; only 340 were invited). The trip out was without incident. We saw lots of motorcycles heading east to Sturgess and lot of hot rods heading west to Reno. Reno hosts what they call Hot August Nights and the town was full of hot rods.
The condo’s we reserved at Monterey were right on the dunes. A perfect place to relax, visit with 356 friends and prepare for the event.
356 West Coast Holiday
We had over 400 356 Porsches at this event! This is more than we will ever see in one place again. Friday was registration and tech sessions. The real fun was watching the 356’s arrive at the host hotel. 356’s from all over the U.S. Speedsters were common and there were plenty of Carrera’s. The colors were as if Dr. Porsche had distributed jelly beans.
Saturday was tour day and a Literature Swap. The tours were organized in a tour book which was very well done. 356’s took off for Big Sur, Carmel Valley, Monerey Wine Country or the back roads. We had 356’s all over the place. You should have seen the heads turn as they went by. I sold a wood steering wheel and a chrome horn ring at the Literature event which was packed with buyers. $750 was not a bad start and I still had a truck full of parts for the Swap Meet.
Sunday was the Concours at the Quail Lodge Golf Course. Three hundred eighty seven 356’s were counted on the grass and there were at least two dozen late arrivals parked on the roads. Unfortunately, serial No. 1 was not there due to an off loading accident in Chicago. It is now back at the factory for repair. But the Gmund Le Mans Coupe was there plus other museum and special Porsches. Again there was a category for “rusty” 356’s and a Pre A Cabriolet with plenty of rust and the horse hair and springs sticking out of the seats was going to be the obvious winner. An excellent lunch was catered at the Concours site and then many of the 356’s went on the 17 Mile Tour. That night was the awards banquet-very well done.
Monday we had access to the Laguna Seca Race Track and we put over 300 356’s in two groups on the track for parade laps. No passing, but lots of fun. You’ve probably seen the Corkscrew turns on TV but until you’ve driven it you don’t know what a steep drop it is. Monday night we had the Monterey Aquarium reserved for the Holiday Banquet. What a place! Outstanding food and drinks available at numerous food stations and fantastic views of the sea life without the crowds. Barb fell in love with the sea otters, but we couldn’t stay late as we planned to be up at 5:00 AM for the Swap Meet.
I did real well at the Swap Meet. There were lots of buyers and I sold over $3,000 worth of parts. I sold some side glass to a guy from New Zealand. I asked him how he would get it home. He didn’t know but he really needed the glass. I sold some parts to a Japanese guy who did not speak English. We exchanged notes and parted with polite bows. The Swap Meet ended the Holiday and we would have a few days before the Laguna Seca Races,so we decided to sleep in Wed. But everyone woke up at 7:00 AM when a 5.3 earthquake hit. Being a native Californian I knew what it was but it is still a weird experience. So time to relax, long walks on the beach, shopping and prep the ’51 Race Car.
Friday at Laguan Seca was practice for new drivers. There would be fourteen race groups. Starting with the Pre war racers and ending with the big fast, fast cars. Seven groups would race Saturday and seven on Sunday.
Friday the pits began to fill. Of the 340 race cars, 124 would be Porsches. The factory had a huge exhibit with 24 Porsches from the Museum. Norm’s car performed well during practice. Since we put a 1300 cc two piece case engine in it we didn’t expect much from 45 H.P. Norm was slow up the hill but man could he fly downhill through the Corkscrew!
Saturday was race day and it was crowded. They had to close the gates (not since the Pope’s visit had they done this.) 550 Spyders were so common in the pits they were like Volkswagons. There were Gmund 356’s, Carrera Abarths, 917/10’s, 908’s, 936’s, 962-and more. It’s possible every Porsche Race car was represented. Some of the big name Porsche drivers were there-Haywood, Bell, Follmer, McAfee, Linge, Herrmann and Rohrl.
There was a parade of Porsche Race Cars during the lunch break and I got some great video. I remember a 962 taking some hot laps and then pulling in. A young boy about 12 got out and were his eyes big. Wonder who he was.
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche drove a 1951 Sauter Roadster-was he ever having fun!
It was overload! We would miss Sunday races as we had tickets for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. (The tickets for the Concours completely fund the United Way in Monterey. I asked Barb if there were any disadvantaged folks in Monterey/Carmel-must be).
Upon the advice of previous Concours attendees, we got there early Sunday. Glad we did, as by noon it was packed. They park you on 17 Mile Drive and bus you to the event. While Porsche had their own area the event was really about the great classic cars. I had never heard of a Minerva but there were about a dozen of them in their own group. Great Sedans from the ’20’s. I’m glad I took pictures early, as soon there were too many people to be able to see the cars. We left at noon and drove to Big Sur for a picnic. Then it was time to pack up and head home.
The next event was the RMVR Labor Day weekend races at Steamboat. This would be the 15th and last street race. Perhaps the last street race in the U.S.
Since I hadn’t time to rebuild my race engine, Bill F donated his street (?) engine for the Company Car. He only had a few hours on his new engine but we put it in the ’58 Coupe and it ran well. He got to drive as it was his engine. However, after the last race Sunday, they put all the race cars on the track for a goodbye parade. The people said it was terrific-I didn’t see it , I was driving the last lap at Steamboat.