At the world’s largest gathering of Porsche racing cars, the motorsport history of Zuffenhausen can be experienced up close. At the Rennsport Reunion’s fifth anniversary, on the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway, numerous racing legends celebrated a reunion with their racing scars.
“The Rennsport Reunion is something that I never miss of course!”, says the six-time Le Mans winner Jackie Ickx, as we walk together through the Le Mans paddock at the Rennsport Reunion event. The Belgian has something to say about every Porsche Le Mans racing car from 50 years of racing history. To the question as to which Le Mans race had had the most impact on him, Ickx replies: “That was in 1977, when the entire Porsche had to struggle with technical problems and we have only had one 936 on the track. Together with Hurley Haywood and Jürgen Barth, with the last Porsche, we had been gradually been closing up on the leaders with every lap until a technical problem suddenly occurred. But our lead so great that we decided to repair the car. Thanks to the efforts of the legendary racing engineer Klaus Bischof and his team, the racing car was made ready again and we won together although everyone was convinced we had lost the race. That was a team achievement!“ It is stories like these that fuel the Porsche myth even today and explain the enthusiasm for the marque at the Rennsport Reunion.
It all began in 2001, when Bob Carlson and Klaus Bischof came up with the idea of celebrating Porsche’s glorious race victories by organising a festival. The Rennsport Reunion was held for the first time as something of a family affair on the Limerock Park racing circuit that included the likes of Paul Newman and Jacky Ickx. Two events were to follow in Daytona until Laguna Seca finally became established as the venue – ultimately growing in popularity as a result of the increasing involvement from Stuttgart. In this case, however, the growth was not detrimental, since the Rennsport Reunion has now become a place of pilgrimage for Porsche enthusiasts from all over the world. This year, there were more former Porsche racing drivers and other big names from Zuffenhausen’s racing history gathered for the event than ever before: from Porsche racing engineer Norbert Singer, who was involved in 16 of the total of 17 Porsche Le Mans victories, down to racing drivers such as Jochen Mass, Jackie Oliver, Hans Herrmann, Derek Bell, Vic Elford and Hurley Haywood. They celebrated the Rennsport Reunion event with close to 100,000 Porsche fans.
Even so, it is an unbelievable experience to stand the edge of the racing circuit when a Porsche 908 comes out of the steep corkscrew bend, hurls itself down the slope of the straight and screams past at an incredible speed. The particular feature of the races that are held at the Rennsport Reunion is that you can really experience historical motor racing at such close range. Unlike historical race meetings in Europe, perfectly normal visitors have almost universal access: the paddock and pitlane garages are open to everyone. Visitors are also permitted to view the races from very close along the entire length of the circuit. It makes the Rennsport Reunion a truly unique event. I have never experienced anything like it before.
Dennoch ist es ein unglaubliches Erlebnis, wenn man an der Rennstrecke steht und ein Porsche 908 aus des steilen Corkscrew-Kurve kommend in die abfallende Gerade schiesst und mit seinem unglaublichen Gebrüll an einem vorbeirast. Das Besondere an den Rennen der Rennsport Reunion ist eben, dass man den historischen Motorsport dort wirklich hautnah erleben kann. Ganz anders als bei historischen Rennveranstaltungen in Europa, hat man als ganz normaler Besucher auch fast überall Zutritt: Fahrerlager und Renngaragen sind für alle geöffnet. Auch der Verlauf der Strecke erlaubt es relativ nah am Renngeschehen dabei zu sein. Dass alles macht die Rennsport Reunion zu einer wirklich einzigartigen Veranstaltung, wie auch ich sie noch nicht zuvor erlebt habe.
(c) Text: Phillip Rathgen/Classicdriver • Bilder: Stefan Bogner