Tag Archives: Porsche 911

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Post Time with Jürgen Barth at The Monterey Motorsports Reunion

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!

Our correspondent - ps

 

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.

double d - ps

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 venti latte - ps

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.

Barth on the Grid practice -ps

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.

Nine eleven Hell - ps

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.

The MAN - ps

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.

Grid 1 - ps

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.

Jurgen Knocked em - ps

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………….

Finding Places

The Sage of Charlotte is back, considering the the 911’s early years and the dilemmas faced by those crafting the rules for the USCR.

 

When Porsche’s 911 made its public debut at Frankfurt’s 1963 Auto Show its promise as the foundation for a new era in the economic fortunes of Zuffenhausen were obvious. Less obvious though was its motorsport future, for while the era of Ferdinand Piech would not arrive for another two years, the factory’s engineers were already gearing up for a new generation of sports racing prototypes; an effort that precluded the necessary transformation of the new six-cylinder coupé into a serious GT racer.
Not until 1969, and after the aborted lightweight 911R program had been consigned to the dustbin, did Porsche start the at first slow progression of making the 911 into the dominant player it would become in the production-based side of the sport. The delay in the acknowledgement of the 911’s competition potential centered around two words, “mission statements.”
Arguably, in the latter part of the 1960’s the mission statement for Zuffenhausen’s motorsport program focused on developing and building ever better prototypes that would transform the company from a supporting role on the sports car scene into its headlining star, and with it Piech to the overall industry leader he has become today as the chairman of Volkswagen AG.
Indeed, the 911 played little or no role in the Piech’s ego-centric universe because fundamentally he had virtually nothing to do with its conception. Put another way, it wasn’t his “baby,” and in those days he had little interest in other people’s offspring. For him, his mission statement was one of self aggrandizement. So while he pursued his own objectives, the 911 languished in motorsport hell; not released from its purgatory until Ernst Fuhrmann took the company’s reigns in the beginning of the 1970s, when, as its new President, he pushed the prototypes aside for the firm’s long neglected marketplace best seller.

 

On its 50th birthday year, the story of finding a mission motorsport statement for 911 resonates in the upcoming debut of the NASCAR-owned United Sports Car road course tour that will open its doors with the Daytona 24 Hours next winter. Created from the amalgamation of the Grand Am Rolex and American Le Mans Series championships, their new replacement has, as yet, to release its details of its technical regulations, even though testing is little more than three months away as this is being written.The problem, like that of the 911 is in defining its “mission statement.”

 

For the Grand-Am’s Rolex tour, even though everybody on the NASCAR side will deny it, the mission statement was pretty clear: coral the pool of “gentleman” drivers so necessary to the success of any North American road racing series in order to put the ALMS out of business. Given that essentially the NASCAR folks bought out the Don-Panoz title chase, it was a strategy that worked. But now, having “won the war,” what does NASCAR do with the peace? More specifically, what does it do with the Rolex Daytona Prototypes?

 

 

Given the hundreds of millions it takes to field a headlining sports racer these days, the Grand-Am emasculated their prototypes in terms of the technology, thus cutting cost to the point where the rich gentlemen participants could come and play without worrying about their financial security. Ironically this approach has since its 2003 introduction produced some of the best, closest racing in the sport’s history. On the other hand, it has drawn little more than collective yawns from its audience base: the world inhabited by sports car enthusiasts.

 

Collectively, unlike their stock car counterparts, they prefer high technology overt tight, equalized competition, and so far, to a huge extent, they have eschewed the Grand Am and the Rolex series. Up to now, their lack of enthusiasm has not been that much of a problem, given that the ultimate Rolex consumers weren’t the fans, but the participants. Now, however, if new championship is to prosper, the mission statement will have to be refocused on the techno savvy audience which up to now the NASCAR camp has ignored.

 

In light of the fact that NASCAR wants to keep the Daytona Prototypes as the foundation for its top ranked category, there are some hard, but simple choices to be made. Do those behind the new championship dumb down the performance potential of the present LM P2 prototypes and possibly of the Le Mans GTE production contingent scheduled to race next year far enough so as not to overshadow the DP community? Or, do they bring the DP’s performance up to a level where they’re not embarrassed by those surrounding them on the grid?

 

The first will please the “rich kid” gene pool, the second will satisfy United Sports Car Racing’s larger, and perhaps more necessary, audience base. At this point the time to make the decisions is growing ever smaller. And, while someone is going to be disappointed, there will be chaos and true disappointment if something isn’t do soon. In the end, like the case of the 911, it’s all about the necessity for mission statements.

 

Bill Oursler, September 2013

Classical Gas and Thunder Road

The Professional

No it is not a call for Mason Williams or Ryland Cooder, however timeless they are, but it is mid-August so the Monterey Peninsula is buzzing with automotive gold. Whether it is down on Pebble Beach or up at Laguna Seca there is something for every kind of petrolhead and I hope to bring you more during the coming weeks. Here is a bit of the real stuff. Jürgen Barth in a 911 sporting Catalan colours, courtesy of our friend David Soares.

2013 Brooklands Mustang

Meanwhile on the other side of the world I popped over to my local track, Brooklands. The reason was to see the Mustang and other Americana event and well worth the time it was too. More from that later……………OK it was not The Quail but the same spirit is found here around the Byfleet Banking, Percy Lambert’s ghost still races his Talbot and with the right kind of imagination you can feel that Certain Sound.

John Brooks, August 2013

911 Heaven

OK, before we get started I have a financial interest in this book. Showing rare taste and perspicacity the authors of this fine tome bought (and paid for!) some images from me. Of course the really good stuff comes from elsewhere but I am very pleased to be part of this book.

So my interests disclosed, I can now talk about this new volume. OK, the first question is do we need another Porsche history, another 911 book? Surprisingly the answer after reading this book is yes.

The authors, Michael Keyser and Bill Oursler (who also contributes on DDC) are Porsche experts of long standing. Michael raced a 911 with great success during the 70’s including a win at the Sebring 12 Hours. To most of the sportscar fans these days he is best known for his book “A French Kiss With Death”, the definitive story of Steve McQueen and his film “Le Mans”.

Bill Oursler is, well he is Bill. Anyone who has been receiving end one of his long phone calls knows about the passion, deep knowledge and understanding of all things Porsche. I doubt if he can even recall the number of books, let alone articles that he written over the past 40 years.

As to the subject matter, the competition history of the Porsche 911 in all its mutations and evolutions give a very broad canvas on which to paint a compelling picture.

Engraved Slip Case

 

The first thing that strikes you when you pick up the book is the quality of the production that oouzes out. The engraved slip case is typical of the high standards of reproduction that match the quality of the content.

Barth & Singer

 

The Forewords are written by two figures who have been central to the story of the 911 in competition, Jürgen Barth and Norbert Singer. This is supplemented by the story of Michael and his relationship with the Porsche 911, from 1966 to the present day.

Boost Control

 

The content follows on in a chronological order. I especially enjoyed the sections dealing with the early years. The opening double page spread showing Eberhard Mahle completely sideways on the Rossfield Hillclimb back in 1966 makes you imagine that you can hear the throttle, full on, no lifting. Another favourite is the chapter on the customer developments of the 935, which grew more radical with the evolutions of the “Moby Dick” concept.

Four Wheel Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 959 programme is also covered with the various developments both on and off road as are the GT1 projects.

Wallpaper

The final chapters look at the recent 911 GT3-R Hybrid and another of my favourite pieces, 911 In Posters that are extremely evocative.

So if you are a 911 nut, this book is for you. Well written, well illustrated and well produced it has a place on any Porsche bookshelf.

Only 2,250 copies have been printed, so get your order in soon.

HERE

John Brooks, October 2011