More from our favourite Bond Girl, who put this fine piece together for us a few weeks back. Life imitates Morse and I have been extremely tardy in posting, apologies to all, will do better, yeah, right!
As a lifelong equestrian, it’s both humbling and awe inspiring to watch a professional trainer take an already awesome horse and elevate said beast to new levels of jaw-dropping excellence.
Such a presentation calls for a unique combination of talent, drive and experience. As an amateur, I usually want to hurry home, saddle my own horse and attempt to replicate that caliber of horsemanship.
A racecar isn’t a horse and vice versa, but the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion provided race enthusiasts with the opportunity to witness the same type of demonstration.
In general, vintage events tend to restrict the run groups to amateurs. Professional involvement is usually kept to a minimum and for good reason. However, with Porsche celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 911, the organizers encouraged the participation of several pro drivers by creating a special run group of 911’s built from 1964 to 1973.
Over forty entries were accepted for Group 8B known as the Weissach Cup. One of those drivers on the grid was Jürgen Barth. Barth embodies the motorsport professional. Experienced in virtually every aspect of the game, the Barth resume includes driver, with overall and class victories at Le Mans, factory development driver, race organizer, international steward, and established author. His steed for Monterey was indeed a special 911 and one that Barth was very familiar with. The 1970 911 ST, chassis number 911 030 0949, is one of the factory lightweight rally cars. Its impressive history includes such famous names as Waldegard and Larrousse taking turns behind the wheel.
For 1971, the car was used by Barth as a service car for the Monte Carlo Rally and then sold. The new owner retained the services of the young driver and the 1971 Tour De France should have been the high point for Barth and this particular 911. Unfortunately, a loose flywheel and a damaged the crankshaft resulted in a DNF. Barth finally got his first 911 win later that year in this same car at a French National race.
In 1998, with Porsche celebrating a 50th anniversary, owner Roy Walzer asked Barth to drive this special car at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. In that race, Barth started 5th and was to lead every lap right up to the last few feet of which Hurley Haywood got by in the Brumos 914-6.
Reunited again in 2013, the car sported the Tour De France colors, the same colors that took Barth out of the hunt. This was the second “go” for both Barth and the machine at Laguna Seca. Attrition and incidents cut the field down in Group 8B for Sunday afternoon’s race and thirty 911’s filled the grid. The organizers made the decision to split the field and utilize two safety cars, with the first group getting the green flag approximately fifteen seconds ahead of the second.
Due to an electrical problem that sidelined Barth on the track during the morning race, he started in 29th position – the back row of the second group. Simply making the start was an achievement of sorts, the electrical problem meant Barth would be driving with no functioning instruments, including the tachometer. His race would be accomplished by the sound and feel of the car, a professional at work. Additionally, the Barth 911 was one of the few cars in the field to race with the correct motor displacement, however, talent can overcome such occasional inconveniences. At the end of the first lap he had dispatched the entire second group of cars and took off after the first group with a beautiful display of consistent driving and carrying far more speed in and out of the corners than any of the other 911’s. After eight laps it was all over and Barth settled for 8th place with a lap time that on paper would have been third or fourth against more powerful RSR’s.
In the end, and in horse-speak, Barth “spanked” the field. But, for us amateurs, it’s not a punishment. It’s a lesson. A little tutorial that provides an aspiration for the next time we ride into an arena or drive out of the pits.
Lizett Bond, October 2013
Mea Culpa, I failed to credit David Soares for the photos………….