While some 350 historic racing Porsches could be seen working up a sweat attacking the swoops and dives of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Rennsport Reunion IV weekend, the Race Car Classic event held on Sunday provided a more sedate look at Porsche racing history. About 200 unique and significant cars from the period of 1950 to the late sixties relaxed on a fairway at the Quail Lodge in nearby Carmel Valley.
Steve Heinrichs organized the event. A longtime Porsche enthusiast who is also a lung cancer survivor, Heinrichs wanted to honor early racing history, but also use it to draw attention to a disease that kills more women than breast cancer and more men than all other cancers combined. Using the Quail event held during Monterey's classic car week as a role model, the Race Car Classic carried out its philosophy of 'the right crowd with no crowding' through a steep $400 admission ticket ($350 qualified as a charitable deduction toward lung cancer research) that included food and drinks.
It also included a priceless opportunity to mingle with some of the rarest and most significant cars in Porsche history including the 1962 Type 804 Formula One car, the first 550 Spyder (chassis 550-1), a flock of Porsche-Abarth Carrera GTL coupes, and 15 Type 904s.
Cars from both the Collier Collection and the Porsche Museum were significant parts of the high quality field, good examples being the pair of Dreikantschaber (German for scraper) coupes brought over from Stuttgart. Resembling hard top versions of the RS61, they are actually lightweight, rebodied 356B coupes designed by Butzi Porsche for FIA GT racing.
Speaking of rebodied cars, the Race Car Classic added a lighthearted touch with a class for 356 Outlaws that included a 550 Spyder fitted with a 911 6-cylinder engine, fender flares and wide Goodyear racing slicks.
The 911 field included an early 901 that was a factory dealer demonstrator car before becoming the first production 900-series car imported to the U.S. It was soon converted to an SCCA race car and is still raced in vintage events by its owner Dean Watts.
Another early example of Porsche's presence in the U.S. was Rev. Ronald Roland's 1952 America Roadster. This aluminum bodied precursor to the Speedster was, as its name implies, only imported to America. Roland's yellow example was originally purchased by Briggs Cunningham and raced by Phil Walters.
Other early rarities included a 1952 Glockler Roadster and a pair of Denzel Roadsters.
Although it was a race car event devoid of the roaring engines and screeching tires, the Race Car Classic succeeded as a one-time opportunity to see some of the rarest early Porsche racers all in one place.