In the movie “Night at the Museum,” Ben Stiller plays a night watchman who gets caught up in all kinds of hijinks when the museum’s exhibits come alive. Stiller’s Larry Daley character interacts with heroes like Teddy Roosevelt, Sacagawea, and Christopher Columbus. That’s just fantasy, though; far-fetched fiction of Hollywood script writers brought to life on the silver screen by actors and special effects.
The Rennsport Reunion is history in motion—fast motion, and it’s oh-so-real. Road and race cars from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, as well as other museums and high-end collections around the world, wake from their slumber to not only appear before adoring fans but to relive their glory on a racetrack. Not only that but they are driven by the heroes who drove them decades ago.
What started as a public relations effort in 2001 has now spawned six of these vintage racing events and each gets more popular. Rennsport Reunion VI, held Sept 27-30 at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, drew more than 81,000 fans of horizontally opposed rear-mounted engines, Le Mans wins, road racing, and fantastic sports cars. That’s a good 20,000 more attendees than the last Rennsport Reunion held at the same track three years ago.
Almost any brand could host a vintage racing event, but no brand could do it like this.
The sounds are different here. They’re the angry bee screams of horizontally opposed cylinders, made more raspy by headers in place of exhaust manifolds and straight pipes instead of mufflers. No brand can touch the variety and volume of the race cars, from the first 550 Spyders of the 1950s to the thundering 917 Can-Am cars of the 1970s to the generations of high-tech prototype Le Mans racers, with all manner of 911 in between. On top of all that, the parking lot and paddock are full of legendary sports cars spanning 70 years of an unwavering commitment to the genre. The fans own a piece of the history.
The racing isn’t as nasty serious as you get at the Goodwood Revival, but it does get spirited. Race drivers have egos, after all, even when they are driving someone else’s multi-million dollar collectible classic and even when all that’s on the line is bragging rights and a trophy.
was on hand at Rennsport Reunion VI, where the racing included seven classes for cars from the 1950s to the present day. As a little extra bit of fun, several drivers purchased Porsche tractors, which the brand designed and licensed from 1956 to 1963 for tractor races on Saturday and Sunday, complete with a Le Mans start.
But it included so much more than the racing. The 919 Evo, the car that set the lap record at the Nürburgring Nordscheife, was on hand for “exhibition laps.“ Given that this unleashed version of the 919 Hybrid Le Mans LMP1 prototype racer has set other track records and came within a couple of seconds of setting the Laguna Seca record, Porsche was likely trying to set the record here, but just didn’t have the right setup.
Spectators were also treated to roundtable chats with legendary Porsche drivers, designers, and engineers, as well as current factory drivers. Select members of the Porsche Club of America had the opportunity to drive special their cars on the track in parade laps. And everyone could shop for their Porsche needs in the vendor area, which included the likes of Singer, Gunther Werks, , Luftgekuhlt, and just about every other important name in the Porsche realm.
Porsche is celebrating 70 years of the sports car in 2018, and the brand had the 1948 356 Roadster No. 1 on hand to mark that celebration. At the same time, Porsche showed fans a glimpse of the future with the Mission E electric concept car (which will be called Taycan in production form), and the present by announcing the reborn 935 as a limited-edition track only collectible car based on the 911 GT2 RS.
All this Porsche-mania will make attendees want a Porsche if they don’t already have one, and aim for a better one if they already do. After all, there’s always a Turbo, GT3, or GT2 that’s better than your Boxster or 911 Carrera. The good news is there’s also a Boxster, Cayman, certain generations of 911, or even a Cayenne or Macan that can provide entry into this historic brand. And all of these are living, driving, and sometimes racing realities that can be more than just a fantasy.