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Come Out and Play

Well what’s my excuse for being sloppy in getting copy in to my column this time. Oh, the usual I suppose… job, trying to make enough money to pay the bills, life’s like that and the rest of the cliches. There have been some interesting distractions along the way though. Daytona played host to Rennsport 2 a few weeks ago. This was a reason for six hundred or so Porsches of various types to get together for some time on the banks. Porsche sent over a few cars from their museum along with some of the names of the past that were responsible for Porsche’s greatest successes. Legends by the names of Peter Falk, Hans Mezger and Valentin Schaffer were greeted like royalty and for good reason. A look at their resume lists everything from the 904 to the 962. With the exception of the still employed Norbert Singer and Helmut Schmid, there isn’t anything like that in residence at Weissach these days. For some political reason Jurgen Barth has not made either of the two Rennsport events which is a shame as a number of race cars that he had driven over the years were on display at Daytona.

You got to keep them separated…
The event will be considered a huge success but no one should confuse Rennsport 2 with the Monterey Historics. An economic success ? Yes. An artistic one ? Hardly. Here are a few reasons why. I don’t go to a major show to watch a warm up act, can you imagine an opera having a double bill? The cost of seeing a major exhibition at LACMA or any major museum should not be mandatory viewing of some local artist sketches. The decision to include a large number of Porsche club racers diluted the overall quality of the show. Club racing is extremely important in brand loyalty and is the true spirit of motorsport. However, all things have their place and mixing in the pro cars with the club cars in a place as big as Daytona really took away from what could have been a magnificent event.

Where there’s an Ickx…
The whole concept of the Rennsport reunion is a good one and hopefully it will be continued to be held very few years as Porsche is one of the few manufacturers that understands it has a past worth celebrating and exploiting. However, the program needs to be addressed with giving the club entrants their own time and construct an event that truly reflects the championship cars and the drivers who competed. As noted editor Greg Brown noted, Jacky Ickx was at the Rennsport as a guest of Porsche and the Porsche that he drove to his greatest victory at Le Mans, 936-001, was also on hand. Ickx was interviewed up in the tower and few could hear him over the constant sounds of all things Porsche. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate if the 936 had been displayed in a tent and a walkaround of the car with Ickx scheduled and the spectators made aware of such a unique opportunity ? A missed chance for many was that Reinhold Joest was in attendance, who graciously shipped over both his two time Le Mans winners and his famous 908-03. Wouldn’t a scheduled time with Joest and crew along with 956-117 and the TWR-Porsche WSC been something worth sharing with the public ?

When that Shark bites…
For me personally it was a great event even if the 935 I shared with Dave Hunsinger acted up during my track time. A farting and belching auspuffer on the banks is frustrating at best but I got a great view of the lower line. My fault as the 935 simply got up to to the capable Big Ron Gruener in San Jose ( Go Sharks ! ) a bit too late to carry out any extensive testing. The car handled better than any 935 I had driven before but the misfire at top end could not be isolated in time before Sunday’s final on track battle. Dave’s sessions in the white and blue striped turbo went considerably better and I am glad he got up to speed to experience Daytona the way it should be. My on track time was extended courtesy of Aaron Hsu who graciously let me drive his werks Shell Dunlop 962 chassis 010 on Saturday and then 962-011 on Sunday. 962-010 is a special car for many Porsche enthusiasts as it was involved in one of the greatest on track battles ever held at La Sarthe. Hans Stuck put 010 on pole for the 1988 race and fought with the lead Jaguar right until the last lap. Chassis 011 was a werks tub that was built up by Joest and will be remembered as the last true prototype Porsche to win a round of an FIA championship, that being Dijon in 1989 where the Joest Porsche cleanly beat the Sauber Mercedes effort.

A Leica moment…
One of the joys of an event such as Rennsport was seeing the people from Weissach being able to enjoy seeing the race cars of their past. Unless he hangs out at the company museum, someone like Norbert Singer looks to the future and the next race. So it was great to see him circulating amongst the best of the best that had been assembled for an on track photo shoot signing programs and talking with the owners. While he wouldn’t comment on which was his favorite, he spent some time taking photos of the Martini 2.1 RSR Turbo. If you want to know why, read Frere’s books, Leffingwell’s account or the various publications on the history of Le Mans. There were reunions over the entire event between driver and car. Vern Schuppan had many a tale to tell us after seeing 962-007 again.

Sights and Sounds
Every time I am in Daytona for a race I try and hit a couple of stores that are conveniently across the street from each other. One, a bookstore with a great selection of used obscurities and the other that has a good selection of new and used vinyl and CD’s. Atlantic Sounds is the typical independent record store right out of Hornby’s Hi-Fidelity. Posters, instant memorabilia, notices for local bands, a cat ( animal not musician ) wandered in the door while I was searching through the used K section. Luck was with me as I came across two rare Jorma Kaukonen discs I had been looking for. ( somewhere a girl is tuning her axe to the sounds of one of them right now )  As it should be, the music in the store was at volume 8 out of a possible Spinal Tap 11 but I rarely notice what is being spun. What I did overhear was the following conversation.

“ Man, I thought you hated The Offspring”

“ I do except for this album. It rocks and reminds me of being in middle school”

This brought a smile to my face followed by much laughter. The counter boys turned to me and wondered what I found so amusing. So I told them that my 22 year old son had just seen Dexter’s Offsprung band a week earlier in L.A. and he said it was like being at an 8th grade reunion. He got a lot of verbal trashing from me about that comment for days. Finally, his generation has another band other than Green Day. Hah, The Offspring as a genuine oldies act. Come out and play…

                                                                                   Kerry Morse
May 2004

Singer is a galaxy a long, long time ago
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sportscarpros Not that it's any of my business

Features and pieces by Kerry Morse
Carl Thompson's used race car lot
Our 935 waits in line
Heading out - 962-007, 008 and 010
Singer revisits his Group C days
passing the torch
Vern Schuppan goes home again
Big Ron and the 935 waits
The burgandy big box
come in and buy
Morse in the E-ticket ride
Schuppan unimpressed by Morse's driving