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|From the West (Wurst?) Wing
--by John Celona, GGR President
Welcome to the New Year! Mark your calendar!
Hard to believe we're into 2010 already. Where did 2009 go? How did President Obama get back to Hawaii already? Is it true the Secret Service has a bulletproof Panamera on order? Or maybe--for about the same cost--they purchased the last 300 Saturn Vues off the dealer lots!
These weighty questions will have to join "where would I put a second Porsche" on the list of matters too difficult to be tackled. Instead, do something simpler: mark your calendar for the great array of events GGR is putting on this year. Volunteer club members are putting in a lot of work just so you can show up and have a great time, so we'll look forward to hopefully seeing you at some of them. It's your club and your dues putting them on, so come by and make the most of it!
I won't recap all the events here, just a few highlights. As always, check the web site
for up-to-date event information. Here we go!
Annual Awards Banquet January 10th
The annual awards banquet will be at Blackhawk this year and the registration deadline is about NOW, so if you put your check in the mail right away Mark Powell just may slip you in. Cost is $45 per person and children accompanied by adults (except Bill Benz) are FREE! For this cost you get to tour the outstanding Blackhawk car collection, eat a sumptuous brunch, and heckle your fellow club members as they receive their awards. Such a deal. Who will receive the coveted Perc Bliss award? Will he or she be able to carry it without throwing their back out? These and other headline-making events will remain a mystery unless you're there to fight your way through the papparazzi and see it yourself!
Check the bit right after this column for details.
Drivers' Education / Time Trials / Club Races / Christians Thrown to Lions
Sorry, no, we won't be throwing Christians to the lions at this years' track events. The Humane Society complained the lions were getting upset stomachs so we've had to discontinue this portion of the event. Still, if you attend the Saturday night dinner at the track and discussion of the day's laps, you may not be able to tell the difference.
DE/TT/CR (no more CTTL) chairs Warren Walker and Mike Cullinan have left no stone, boulder, or broken piece of pavement unturned in their quest to make the track events more fun and easier to get into than ever before. Check out the piece right after the annual banquet for more details. Still, I'll summarize it here:
You buy a helmet, show up in your utterly stock Porsche and learn to drive. That's it!
Check the article for how new the helmet has to be (the stickers on it tell), and it also describes how you need to wear long, natural fiber clothes, but that is about it. Here's what the typical weekend schedule looks like:
- Friday: show up at the track and attend a track orientation
- Saturday: Drive! Drive! Drive!
- Saturday evening: dinner at the track with a MOVIE afterward (new!)
- Sunday morning: Drive! Drive! Drive!
- Sunday afternoon: you get to go out on the track by yourself (no other cars near you!) and drive clean laps while folks record your times for you.
All this for the cheapest price we can charge that just covers expenses. And you get some of the most experienced instructors in the country helping you out. Plus, for certain events, there will be a Porsche Club Race as part of the weekend to really spice it up. Here's the schedule for this year:
- March 26/27/28 - Thunderhill - Club Race/DE/TT
- May 22/23 - Buttonwillow - Club Race/DE/TT, co-hosted with Grand Prix Region from Long Beach. Central Coast Region will have their annual DE on the Friday before our event
- July 31/August 1 - Thunderhill - DE/TT
- Sept 18/19 - Thunderhill - Club Race/DE/TT
- Oct 8th (Friday) - Infineon - DE-only
Mark your calendars NOW so you can plan to aerate your lawn some other time.
GGR will be firing up another of its great autocross series this year. If you've never done one, for an autocross you show up in the morning with your helmet, spend the day alternating between driving the course and working the course while the other folks drive, and then head home in the afternoon. The course is laid out with orange cones on a honking huge stretch of pavement with no hard objects nearby.
The worst thing that can happen is you can spin your car, wave to the applauding onlookers, then continue on your way. It's a great way to introduce yourself to what your car can REALLY do and, if you're new or you prefer, you can get an instructor for the day for FREE! It doesn't get any cheaper than that unless TARP bails you out.
The cost to do this is $45 if you register online (with a $10 discount for PCA members) and $55 (with a $10 PCA discount) if you show up and register that day. That's right: you get a day of driving for $35! Probably you've dropped more than that at Malibu Grand Prix, and those cars have about the same power as the windshield wiper motor on a Porsche.
Here's the tentative schedule for this year's events (date, organizer, and location). As always, check the web site for updates.
With TWELVE (count 'em!) events on the schedule, there's plenty of time to wear out those tires before it starts raining again!
- 3/20 GGR Alameda
- 4/10 GGR Alameda
- 5/15 GGR Alameda
- 6/12 GGR Alameda
- 6/13 GGR Alameda
- 7/24 GGR/LPR/Zone 7 Marina
- 7/25 GGR/LPR/Zone 7 Marina
- 8/14 GGR/LPR Marina
- 8/15 GGR/LPR Marina
- 9/11 GGR Alameda
- 10/16 GGR Alameda
- 11/13 GGR Alameda
GGR's 50th Anniversary Celebration: September 10-12
If you're the type to pay way to much attention to small details, you may have noticed that this issue of The Nugget is Volume 50 Number 1. That's right: GGR is 50 years old this year! Good thing my mom didn't wait for the delivery to sign me up for the club so I could be a member of the club the whole time. (kidding!)
Still, a 50th anniversary is a once-in-a-lifetime for most of us, so we're planning on making it a humdinger. A committee has been hard at work figuring out exactly what and where and we should have some specifics for you next month. There will be events on both Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th and maybe a Friday evening opener on the 10th, so if you're out-of-town this will be a perfect opportunity to come to San Francisco and make a weekend of it.
For now, mark this weekend down on your calendar so you don't miss it. It's going to be GREAT!
Other Great Stuff
Check the web site for more specifics, but here's some of the other great stuff coming up:
- The Boxster Brunch. The next one is February 6th at Alice's Restaurant, Woodside. Check out the photos from December's Boxster brunch in this issue. This happens every other month.
- July 24th: GGR's Annual Family Picnic and People's Choice Concours at Vasona Park.
Other events will be coming down the pike but the dates haven't been set yet, like the annual Carlsen Concours hosted by Carlsen Porsche. We'll be announcing them as details are set.
With such a wide array of great events to pick from, there isn't a better car club out there. Come on out and join the fun! Even better, help put an event on! That's much more fun than just showing up. You get to spend more time with fellow Porsche lovers. Where else can you get an audience that will listen to every detail of what you just did with your car and be fascinated by it?
Make a New Year's Resolution to get more involved with the club and join us in the fellowship of Porsche lovers. It's not just the cars; it's the people! You'll thank yourself for it and be a part of making 2010 a very memorable year.
See you at an event!
|GGR Awards Banquet
|Track Primer on Safety Equipment
Track Event Primer: Driver safety equipment
--by John Tavernetti, DE Communications
Those of you reading this have the good fortune, as members of the Golden Gate Region of the PCA, to have access to one of the longest-running and strongest track event programs in the nation, including driver education, time trials and club racing. Perhaps as a by-product of this history, it is a common misconception that expensive fire-retardant suits, roll-bars, racing seats and harnesses are required to participate in any aspect of GGR's track events. This article aims to dispel this myth and provide a brief introduction to the current minimum driver safety gear needed to participate in our world-class Driver Education (DE) events at a track near you.
The basic requirements for drivers' safety gear at a GGR DE event are derived from the current PCA National Driver's Education Minimum Standards. What this means for you, assuming you have a stock or nearly-stock Porsche, is that you'll need to wear the following while driving on the track:
That's it. As long as your car is in safe condition and meets some basic technical requirements, such as having equal, functioning seatbelts for both driver and front passenger and side windows that roll down completely, you're all set for your first Driver Education event with GGR!
- Fully-enclosed shoes with predominantly non-synthetic uppers.
- Clothing made of natural fibers, including a long sleeve shirt and long pants.
- A helmet with a Snell certification tag from one of the two most recent certification periods (e.g. SA2005 or SA2000 certifications are permissible up until six months after the SA2010 certified helmets become available, after which only the SA2010 and SA2005 helmets will be allowed). Note that helmets with a Snell M certification from these same years are also allowed, although SA-certified helmets are strongly recommended for track events. Also note that open-face helmets are not allowed in convertible cars.
For more details about upcoming track events, including complete event rules and safety recommendations that go beyond these minimum standards, please visit www.pca-ggr.org. I'll see you at the track!
|Past President's Message
--by Bill Dally, GGR past president
For my final Nugget column, I'm writing as GGR past president. As the new year starts, I will be handing the reigns of the club to the very capable John Celona, our Nugget editor and club secretary for the past two years.
The start of a new year is a time for reflection and goal setting. To learn from our experiences of the past year and see how we can apply that knowledge to do better in the new year. 2009 was a challenging year for the club, one effect of the down economy was that attendance was down at competition events, particularly our time trial and driver's education series. The introduction of club racing partially helped offset the declining numbers of TT and DE participants. A number of changes are being explored to make our track events more successful in 2010.
Autocross venues were a challenge in 2009 with the status of the Alameda site unclear for much of the year. Finding suitable autocross sites is likely to be a long-term challenge for the club, but for the next year or two the situation appears to be stable.
We had a great set of social events this year including the military vehicles tour, the club picnic, and the wine and wrenches session at The Racer's Group. Hopefully next year will be even better as more members step forward to organize events.
As you set your goals (or resolutions) for 2010, please make one of them to participate in the club. Start by coming to a social event to share your passion for our great cars with like-minded people. Next, bring your car to an autocross and experience the thrill of driving your car at the limit in competition. The beginner's autocross school each year is a great way to get started. However, if you miss the school, just come to an event and one of our talented autocross instructors will show you the ropes. If you want to take your performance driving up a level, bring your car to one of our driver's education track events.
The next level of participation is to get involved in running events and club governance. If you have an idea for a social event, perhaps a driving tour, propose it to the board and then organize it. While this can be a fair amount of work, it is very rewarding and you get to work with a great bunch of folks. Next fall when a number of board positions will be up for election, consider running for a board position. The club badly needs new people on the board, particularly people who represent the changing demographics of the club. Remember, this is your club, but for it to serve you, you need to get involved.
In addition to reflection, the winter months are a time of anticipation. While our race cars sit under tarps (or in garages), we look forward to the coming competition season - preparing our cars and watching videos of last year's events to prepare.
My 914/6 autocross car, Shadowfax, is pretty well dialed in, so I am not planning any major upgrades this winter. However, I am planning two small projects this winter. The first is to drop the engine out of the car so I can adjust the valves. That's right, I can't remove the lower valve covers with the engine in the car. While I have the engine out, in addition to adjusting the valves, I plan to replace the lower valve cover studs with bolts. This will permit future valve adjustments with the engine in the car, as I will be able to just remove these bolts and the valve covers will practially fall off - in contrast now, they do not have adequate clearance to the trailing arm mount to slide off over the studs.
My other project is even simpler - I'm going to by a set of Hoosier A6s. Even though my Goodyear slicks cost me more points than Hoosiers (because the Hoosiers are DOT approved), experimental evidence shows that the Hoosier's stick better at many of our sites - particularly when the surface is cold. Coming up with the right size is a bit of a puzzle. One solution is to run 225/50R15s on all four wheels (7 and 8 inch rims) a more aggressive approach would be to run the 225s in front and see if I can get 275/35R15s on the 8 inch rear rims - which is pushing it a bit. Hoosier's are a bit pricey though - particularly considering that common wisdom is that you get about 50 runs out of a set.
If I can find enough time at home this winter (I've been on almost continuous travel for the past several months) I will continue the weight-loss program for the 914. However, all of the easy weight reduction has been done. I will consider taking the windshield out, but probably won't because I enjoy giving demonstration rides to students and most students don't have helmets with face shields. (The ability to carry passengers costs me 60lbs - 40lbs for the windshield and 20lbs for the passenger seat). I will probably settle for removing the soundproofing tar-paper from the floor of the passenger compartment.
If I get very ambitious this winter I may take the car to a chassis dynamometer and really dial-in my fuel injection and ignition. If I do this, I'll contribute a Nugget article on the experience and the results.
|Letter from the Editor
--by John Celona, Nugget Editor
Keep the contributions coming!
We're very pleased this month to have TWO article sent in by members, both covering the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The first was written by GGR member Behram Soonawala and the second by GGR member and past competition director David Leong, who furnished some of his typically spectacular photos to go along with it. They present different perspectives on this event so I'm sure you'll enjoy reading both. Many thanks to Behram and David for taking the time to write and send these in.
Mark Your Calendars!
This year will be a busy year for GGR, kicking off with the annual awards banquet on January 10th, then going into the autocross series, track series, the 50th anniversary celebration, the annual Vasona Picnic...too many events to list them all here. Mark your calendars so you're sure to get to some of them! Lots of people put in a whole lot of work to make them happen just so you can attend Show up and see what the rest of your dues are up to!
Thanks for reading.
--by Wayne Van Norsdall, Competition Director
Wayne left the country quite suddenly before he was able to do his column. We've left a number of voice mail messages at Gitmo and hope to hear back from them or the Justice Department by next month. --Ed.
Wayne: Phone Home
|Board of Directors
--by John Celona, past GGR Secretary
GGR Board of DirectorsThere was no meeting! This was the joint board dinner, so we just got together at the California Cafe at the Stanford Barn and had dinner. Next month's meeting minutes will be supplied by Bill Benz, whom I'm sure will write them with the official solemnity that has become is trademark (service mark?).
Meeting Minutes for December 20, 2009
--by Jeff Kost, Membership Director
No membership report this month because there wasn't a December board meeting. Look for a double report next month! --Ed.
|The Power Chef
Improving Holiday Favorites
--by John Celona, The Power Chef®
The holidays are a prime time to get out favorite family recipes. Those dishes from long ago (or, for some of us, long long ago!) always are delicious in our memories. How DID mom make that bread stuffing for the turkey?
It is a great part of continuing holiday traditions to keep those family favorites alive. Even better--I think--to improve them?
There are two ways I go about improving old family recipes. First, I look for ways to make them taste even better. For example, I make our "traditional" family bread stuffing for a turkey with all fresh herbs instead of using dried seasonings. It takes a little longer to wash and chop all the herbs, but the fresh herbs make a huge difference. The stuffing is so good I'll make a meal of leftover stuffing itself, with lots of giblet gravy. Also great when you're in a hurry and can just grab a bowl of stuffing, microwave it for a minute or two and you're ready to go.
The second thing I look for is ways to make the old favorites healthier. Then I can eat as much as I want with no guilt! Seconds and even thirds are always allowed in our house. My basic method is to use whole foods and to use just enough fat for flavor.
In the case of the bread stuffing, I use all whole wheat bread instead of white bread. This drastically increases the nutrition and fiber and squarely puts the stuffing in the camp of the good carbs. In my book, good carbs one is allowed to eat in virtually unlimited quantifies. Gotta love that. I also sauté the herbs, celery, and onions in just enough butter so they don't stick.
A friend was recently sharing with me his family favorite recipe for applesauce. You peel and slice 6 apples, sauté them in 1-1/2 sticks of butter, add a cup of honey, some cinnamon, then bake for 45 minutes. He said it was delicious.
I froze a smile on my face as I listened, thinking "Oh my gawd. With that much butter and sugar, I wouldn't need to eat it, I could just pack it directly around my waist!"
There's nothing wrong with a little holiday indulgence, of course. The problem is that with the holidays and holiday parties stretching almost continuously from Thanksgiving to New Year's, it's pretty easy to arrive at January 2 significantly more "prosperous" than six weeks before. I'd rather not "challenge" myself that much!
So, in the spirit of improved holiday favorites, here's my recipe for easy, healthy, and delicious homemade applesauce for the holidays. I found that leaving the peels on not on preserves all the fiber and vitamins in the peels, but, as you cook it, the peels nearly dissolve and help to thicken the sauce. The no-water slow cooking method helps this along. I add just enough sugar to cut the tartness and help the apples soften. Then I season with whatever spices I'm in the mood for: basic cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, or maybe a slightly exotic combination: ginger and allspice. Your imagination is the only limit!
Here's wishing you happy, delicious, and healthy meals over the holidays!
The Power Chef
See Notes at the end for my thoughts on the type of steak to buy.
Easy, Delicious and HEALTHY ApplesauceFor my taste, store-bought applesauce is long on sugar and short on flavor. The homemade variety is great, but a lot of work. This version cuts back on the work and the waste by leaving the peels on. I've found that, for most varieties of apples, the peels almost entirely dissolve during the cooking process, making the applesauce wonderfully thick and tasty-and preserving all the vitamins and minerals typically right under the skin in fruits and vegetables. Plus keeping all the fiber. What's not to like about it?
Core and slice apples, toss with lemon juice, then simmer slowly with sugar to taste, vanilla, and cinnamon until thick and saucy.
sugar to taste
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
Wash, core, and slice the apples. I have a little doohickey that cores and slices the apples in one step, and works for pears, too. Toss the apple slices with a little lemon juice as you do them.
As you get batches of the apples sliced and tossed with lemon juice, dump then in a large pot and start them on low heat with a little water in the bottom (around a 1/4-inch). As the apples start to fall apart, turn the heat up to medium. Be sure to stir the mixture frequently and scrape the bottom of the pan well so it doesn't burn. Add a little sugar, which seems to help the process along.
As the mixture comes to a simmer, add sugar to taste, the vanilla, and the cinnamon. Give it a final tasting and add more sugar, vanilla, or spices if you like. Simmer until as soft and thick as you like.
Feel free to try different spices to suit your taste. I sometimes do a little cloves or nutmeg instead of the allspice. You could also try ground ginger instead of the cinnamon.
This recipe produces a wonderfully thick and flavorful applesauce without and thickening agents at all. There will be little, soft, residual pieces of peel left in it. If this really bothers you, do go ahead and peel the apples first. The result will still be worlds better than what you buy in the store, though it will take more apples to make a given amount of sauce.
The vanilla gives the applesauce a rich, buttery flavor, though it's still fat free!
|Boxster Brunch News
--by George and Carol Grialou, godparents of The Boxster Brunch
We had a very succesful brunch with about 38 people in an overflow room. You might recognize some PCA members which helped make this our largest turnout so far. Lots of fun and now we are going into our sixth year. The next one is the first Sat. in Feb...
Here's one photo. For more photos, click here.
|25 Hours of Thunderhill (I)
--by David Leong, GGR member and past competition director
GGR Members Triumph at the 7th Annual NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Mothers
This year's running of the 25 hours of Thunderhill was again dominated by Porsche, and as is often the case, GGR members played key roles in those Porsches. A pair of 997 GT3 Cups finished 1-2 with a 996 GT3 in 4th, and a Spec911 in 13th. The winning 911 had GGR members Johannes vanOverbeek, Rich Walton, and Todd Grantham as drivers, and GGR member Scott Mercer as car owner. Following them across the line was the Ehret Winery GT3 with Pierre Ehret, Wolf Henzler, Vic Rice, Bobby Orcutt, and another GGR member, Anthony Ward sharing the car.
The 25 hours of Thunderhill is an annual end of year event for many drivers and teams, and this was the seventh running. Teams come from far and wide, but about a half of the cars are local club racers. There are usually 3 or 4 professional teams, giving the locals a chance to race against some big names. The pros bring drivers and support more typical of World Challenge or Daytona than a weekend of club racing, and there was at least one private jet parked at the Willows Airport.
Endurance racing is a multi-class event, and at the 25 hour, there are 6 classes of cars with Mazdas and BMWs making up over half the field, and the rest ranging from Civics to NASCAR stockers, and the prototypes. There are usually only a handful of Porsches, (4 teams this year), and last year, won by a Mazda, no Porsches were entered in the 25 hour portion of the race. In spite of their low numbers, a Porsche 911 has stood on the top step for 5 of the 7 years , including a 1-2-3 and 3 1-2 finishes. Porsche's worldwide mastery of endurance races extends even to this corner of our own backyard. Ironically, this year was also the second time a Caterham has been the best of the rest after the GT3s.
The 25 hour race is the brainchild of NASA's Jerry Kunzman, and beside the extra hour, there are other differences between this race and the race at La Sarthe, or the one at the beach. The Le Mans classic, happens close to the summer solstice with long days and warm nights, while this winter event is the opposite. There is always the threat of rain, last year's event was interrupted by fog, and there has even been snow. The main weather anomaly for 2009 was the 24 degree temperatures and a stiff wind.
The race begins with a lot of fanfare, and for those used to seeing Thunderhill as a DE venue, it is quite amazing to see the paddock transformed into the headquarters of an endurance race. There are motorhomes everywhere, and the hot pits are completely full with tents, heaters, fueling rigs, and everything needed to service a race car for 25 hours. The race traditionally starts with the national anthem and a flyover by the US Air Force who is a major sponsor of the event. Over 70 cars are entered, and sometimes less than half finish. The "I Survived the 25" patch given to every team is a coveted award, as completing the race is an accomplishment achieved by few.
This year's winning team is owned by GGR member Scott Mercer. Scott has a collection of Porsches, and some of you may have read about them in Excellence, when they tested 2 of his GT3s. He didn't own the third car in the test, but by the end of the article, he bought it. Scott had been tracking his street cars, and decided he needed a dedicated race car. Not realizing that PCNA only sells new cup cars to racing teams, he tried to buy one. "After Vera (Vera Frank of PCNA Race Car Sales - DL) quit laughing, she informed me that they were completely sold out and that even IF I had a racing team I would have a long wait". Scott ended up purchasing a used 2005 cup car instead, not realizing, that Vera kept his name, and when the 2008 financial meltdown meant excess inventory, he was allowed to buy one of the extras. The 2009 car, with its' sequential shifter proved to be a difficult transition, and Scott preferred the 2005 car. This left a brand new car sitting unused, so it was decided to enter it in the October Patron GT3 Challenge at Laguna Seca, and who better to drive it than one of Scott's coaches, Rich Walton. At the end of the ALMS weekend, they had so much fun, no one wanted the season to end, and another event was sought. Scott knew from bench-racing sessions, that he had a 25 hour winner in Rich, plus pro racer and 25 hour veteran, in his driving coach Johannes vanOverbeek. Thus an idea was born. With the addition of Tommy Sadler and the rest of the Flying Lizard infrastructure, the pieces all came together. Former teammate and GrandAm Champion Jon Fogarty and GGR member Todd Grantham rounded out the driving crew, while Thomas Blam, who calls the shots for the Lizards came on board as team strategist.
The pole sitting Panoz Prototype of BMC Tool Racing led the opening stint, followed by Wolf Henzler in the Ehret 911, and vanOverbeek on his bumper. "Wolf and I have a lot of experience together as teammates and competitors. We were quicker but he was taking all the risk opening up traffic so I thought it smart to tuck in behind him". It wasn't long before the Mercer team was in the lead, as the Panoz had early problems, and the GT3, had a couple of unscheduled stops. In most years, a few unscheduled stops are just small bumps on the way to a win, but this was a year that required perfection.
It wasn't a walk in the park for the Mercer team, however as the second place GT3 was pushing hard. Todd Grantham, who did all of his stints in the dark, points out that the cars look alike at night, and you can never be sure if the car ahead of you is one that gave you room, or one who turned down on you. Passing as many as twelve cars per lap, disaster looms around every corner, and they had a close call during a full course yellow, as they were caught low on fuel while the pits were closed. According to Rich Walton, there were 20,000 shifts in 25 hours, using 4 up and 4 down on the back straight alone. Regardless, Team Mercer avoided any potential pitfalls, kept up a very fast pace, and only 6 laps of full course yellow, combined with no unscheduled stops resulted in a record 761 laps, which is over 2,000 miles, on their way to a win.
This was Rich Walton's second overall win, (2005 with the Lost and Spaced 911) making him the only two-time overall winner of this event. Indicative of how special this was, Peter Smith, PCA Technical Committee Chair and 25 hour winner, arrived from a vacation in Hawaii, and upon landing went straight to the track to cheer on his friend and former teammate. Johannes had a hard fought third in '04 and "the biggest accident of my career" during the '05 race. "I'm glad we got the monkey off our backs!" As for Scott Mercer, expect to see the 75 car in 3 IMSA races for 2010, and back to defend their title at the 25. No one has won back to back so another first is there for the taking.
More photos can be found here.
|25 Hours of Thunderhill (II)
--by Behram Soonawala, GGR member
25 hours at Thunderhill, 2009
The roll-up door to Thunderhill garage 7 opens at noon and a 997 Cup Car is gently rolled out. It graciously makes room for a little Spec 911, a proverbial Little Steam Engine, which is placed purposefully on a lift. A group of drivers and mechanics go to work on it. Suspension parts, oil gauges, dampers, half-shafts, brakes and radios are examined and replaced. This is a group of friends working together to install and fix in about 10 hours, what would take your average Porsche shop 5 days to complete. Opinions are exchanged but never a harsh word uttered.
The daylight soon wears out. The sun sets early and it is now cold. The crew trickle into garage 6 for a splash of Bourbon scented with sweet Vermouth and a cherry. A few slices of pizza and the work resumes. The checklist is followed meticulously and as the hours slant into fatigue, the car comes together. When it returns to the ground it will be a weapon like none other, ready to take on the world of endurance racing. The question is can the Little Steam Engine do it?
The car's next time out is in afternoon practice, when it has its first shakedown. Jeff is calling out on the radio a list of issues that David and Thomas are writing down. The Hoosier tires seem grippy and the car feels balanced. Each driver does a short stint and the car is then returned to the paddock for a set-up change. Front dampers are replaced and the car is readied for Qualifying, which is largely done in the dark. The enduro lights are too dim and a spare set of halogen lights are salvaged from Greg Ross and replaced. The car qualifies 7th in class.
Race day is cold and windy but without a wisp of the dreaded fog. No rain is expected. The cars take to the presentation grid on the front-straight at 10.30am and the green flag is to drop at 11am. There is no greater sight than pretty little maidens all in a row, on grid, basking in Thunderhill sunshine. The grid is a vat of expectancy. Nervous crew stand over their cars like protective mothers. We wish the drivers luck and whisper safe tidings to the #38 car. Bring our drivers back safe. After all, it is but a sport.
Following our National Anthem and a fly-by with two F-5 jets, approximately 70 cars pounce the start.
Thomas Jameson does the first of the 2-hour stints, with refueling at set about every 60 minutes. Jeff follows with his 2 hour stint, then Ag (David Agretelis). Greg is to be the last driver, having done the 6-hour race earlier with his son, Matt. The race soon settles into a routine checkerboard of laps, pit stops, passes, fueling and (single) wheel changes. An unlucky car catches fire. It is quickly put out. (The driver suffers 1st and 2nd degree burns and is flown to Sacramento). Within a couple of hours of the start a few saddened cars are towed in, tails tucked between their wheels in shame. They promise to be back next year, much stronger. Night descends once more, bringing with it the unsmiling cold.
Each driver does his stint without incident until early into Greg's run he is rear-ended by a Miata and spun around. The now airborne Miata lands on the left front fender. The fender flattens and knocks out the windshield. The left rear fender is decimated. Amazingly, it is only cosmetic damage with no lasting injury to the car. I get a call at the restaurant in Willows, where I am with a friend, and we rush back to the track to have a waiting Jeff and Jay leap onto my Spec 911 windshield and shear it out in under a minute. We rush it to pit side where Greg flies in, has the windshield snapped and duct-taped in place, and is off again. The race would have been undriveable without a windshield. The night temperature had reportedly dipped as low as 20 degrees. The race was saved. The Steam Engine is back in play.
The drivers and crew now settle into a long cold night warmed by common purpose, friendship and fire-hot Chili prepared by Amanda. The pit stops go smoothly through the night. David Stomp runs strategy perfectly, so much so, that the best lap times of the race are run in the dawn hour of the race. Earl Green and Monte Curtis organize and transfer 500 gallons of fuel, 250 of which are poured into the thirsty car, using 5-gallon jugs, in a total of 28 pit stops. Jay Jarvis helps keep the whole show together with oil fills, wheel and tire checks, windshield cleaning and provides his Toter home and trailer as race central. His generosity and energy are endless. The drivers, for their part, do what they must. They drive hard; yet display mechanical empathy to a car that holds together on the merits of sound engineering and a group of enthusiasts who believe they can do it. Ag, in my opinion, impresses the most. He has not driven on track in over a year. When he jumps into the car he is an instant Rock Star.
Early morning sees the survivors of the night still ripping around the track; some intact, some with body work flailing in the wind. It is impressive to watch cars and drivers of different strengths and upbringing strive to see one goal; make the finish in the highest position permitted by the laws of physics. Porsche #38 being no exception, is still in the hunt.
Soon after dawn an unforeseen engine problem relegates two of its competitors into "also rans". As the morning blends into the final laps of the race, the car runs 4th in class. Jeff shows off his racing gear with a smile; jeans and a fleece jacket under his race suit. Calling it simply "cold" is an understatement. The fatigue such bone-saturating cold adds to a tired driver can only be described by those who are actually in the car.
Brilliant sunshine heralds the last few hours of racing. Most cars are now just shooting for a finish. The oddball mechanical failure a few laps from the end is the Racing Gods reminder that we are only microbes, in at times, a cruel experiment. A Miata loses a wheel at the bypass, plowing to a halt in the infield. An Acura hobbles through the pits on a wobbly wheel, lug nuts missing, tears streaming down its face.
The shriek of the pit marshals whistle announces the penultimate lap. In a tradition that defies expression, a few hundred of us, crew and family, friend and foe, all lean over the main-straight barrier wall as one. Cars of every caste, color and creed receive applause. The drivers acknowledge their achievement by blasting past our noses in upwards of a hundred miles per hour. Amongst them is Porsche #38. Of all the racetracks, in all the world, in that brief moment in time, our Thunderhill holds the highest prominence in motor sport. I am sure, any race driver, living or dead, would smile in acknowledgement.
Nature intended a day to have 24 hours. We racers had to improve on it by adding an hour and in the process, redefined the word Endurance. What arrogance! Porsche Spec 911, #38, the Little Steam Engine, defined the words Team Work. What Spirit!
The team stood 4th in class and 12th overall. The racecar was beaten up, yet it finished. An overlooked fact about this 25 Hour was that Thomas' 911 was the oldest chassis out there, dukin' it out with cars 20 years or more younger. It answered the question. It could and it did. Secretly, none of us ever doubted it.
Be afraid, everyone. Be very afraid.
10,000th Panamera leaves the Leipzig plant
Stuttgart/Leipzig. Today, just three months after the new Panamera went on sale the 10,000th car rolled off the production line at the Leipzig plant of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart. The 500 HP platinum silver metallic Panamera Turbo will be delivered to a customer in Singapore.
Michael Macht, Chairman of the Board of Porsche AG: "Sales of the Panamera have really taken off: we have already secured over 9,000 orders. Shortly after it was launched our Gran Turismo won the coveted "Goldenes Lenkrad" ["Golden steering wheel"] and "Auto Trophy" awards in Germany. It has also won many international prizes." The Panamera 4S is proving particularly popular and has a share of 44 percent - putting it ahead of the Turbo (36 percent) and the Panamera S (20 percent).
The company plans to build 20,000 Panamera per year across the whole product cycle. The fourth Porsche model series is being manufactured at the Leipzig plant in the so-called model mix, sharing a production line with the Cayenne SUV. The innovative, highly streamlined production is seen as a model of technological and economic excellence for the automobile industry worldwide.
|Panamera Car of the Year
BLOOMBERG NAMES THE NEW PORSCHE PANAMERA ITS 2009 CAR OF THE YEAR
'Sports car for four' is praised for its driving dynamics and comfort
ATLANTA, Dec. 10, 2009 - Bloomberg News today announced the 2010 Porsche Panamera as
its Car of the Year for 2009. This is Bloomberg's first-ever Car of the Year selections, with
seven categories in all, including Car of the Year, Green Car, Economy, Family, All-Around SUV,
Sports Car and Executive Sedan.
All eligible contenders were evaluated by Bloomberg's weekly auto columnist, Jason H. Harper,
who drives and tests hundreds of luxury, sports and alternative-fuel autos each year. The
selectees were evaluated in terms of overall performance, intelligent design and smart style,
desirability and build quality. To qualify, models must have been new or significantly revised for
model year 2010, and be on sale by the first quarter of 2010 (article link:
"The Porsche Panamera has broken the sports-sedan category wide open, producing a truly
desirable auto that combines the best elements of a sports car and comfortable four-door,"
Harper said. "Fast and fun, the Panamera is a car with real appeal."
Porsche's first four-door car and the company's fourth model line went on sale in October,
joining the company's successful stable of performance thoroughbreds: the mid-engine Boxster
and Cayman, the Cayenne SUV and the iconic 911 Carrera.
The Bloomberg recognition comes on the heals of the Panamera receiving an Edmunds Inside
Line Editors' Most Wanted 2010 trophy at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show (article link).
All Three Panamera Models Deliver High Performance and Low Fuel Consumption
Initially offered in three versions - the 400-horsepower, two-wheel drive Panamera S and all-wheel
drive Panamera 4S, and the 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, all-wheel drive Panamera Turbo -
the new Panamera provides Porsche performance and quality, as well as a level of comfort absent
among true high-performance cars.
The Panamera is the first premium car to feature an automatic engine start/stop system used in
conjunction with seven-speed double-clutch transmission. This system saves fuel and reduces
emissions by turning the engine off when it is not needed, such as sitting at a stop light. All engines
have advanced and fuel-efficient Direct Fuel Injection (DFI), as well. Porsche engineers also focused
on weight savings and lightweight technologies to further enhance fuel efficiency. As a result, the
Panamera S and Panamera 4S deliver 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway (19 mpg combined), while the
Panamera Turbo achieves 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway (18 mpg combined). Amazingly, these
figures were achieved without activating the standard auto start/stop system. All Panamera models
are not subject to the gas guzzler tax and provide the best fuel economy in their competitive set.
The manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) for the Panamera S is $89,800, while the Panamera
4S and Panamera Turbo retails for $93,800 and $132,600, respectively.
|MBR at Blackhawk
Remember to mark this year's events on your calendar! Otherwise, you might end up cleaning out the garage...
As always, thanks for reading.