Monday, February 4, 2013

Porsche RS Spyder Test Day

The recent Ken Block Test Day reminded me of another test day of sorts out in California.  A few years back, I flew out to Los Angeles for the February Porsche Literature Show.  This is a fantastic indoor swap meet held annually where all sorts of Porsche memorabilia and small parts are bought and sold.   The weekend also features several open houses at various Porsche shops in the LA-area.  That year, we decided to host an R Gruppe track day on Monday following the show at Willow Springs International Raceway.

This is the Open House at AutoKennel.  Jeff Zwart drove his real 906 to the event.  In the rain!

At the time, I was keeping the Gray Wolf in California so I could fly out and do various events.  Fellow R Gruppe Chaptermeister Ray and I drove up to Lancaster Sunday afternoon.  Actually, Steven Harris was with us as well.  He was on Michelin TB-5 race tires and about halfway up Hwy 14, the skies opened and poured heavy rain.  Those tires are sketchy, at best, in the wet and Steve was a bit delayed!  When we pulled in to the motel, we saw 2 Porsche-Penske transporters in the parking lot. WTF?


The Gray Wolf in a previous life with American Torque Thrust wheels and factory red/houndstooth sport seats.

So after checking in, we hung in the parking lot and drank a few beers waiting for the other R Gruppe guys to show up.   Eventually, some of the Penske guys came out to check on the trucks and we got talking to them.  They had just driven cross-country from Penske Racing HQ just outside Charlotte, North Carolina and had booked Willow Springs for testing on Tuesday.  They were going to test the Porsche RS Spyder on The Streets of Willow to setup for the upcoming street race in St. Petersburg.

They asked us not to take pictures of the transporters because they were covered with road grime and Roger would not be pleased to see photos of his equipment like that!


They wanted to get in Monday so they could set up the transporters and have everything ready for the arrival of the team and drivers. However, they were told they couldn't get in because somebody else had booked the track Monday .....  that somebody else was us!

Of course, we invited them to follow us to the track Monday morning and "we would get them in."  (Like Ray said back then, 'ya just can't make this shit up.').  We offered them some beers but were informed it wasn't the right brand for them!  Their NASCAR team was sponsored by Miller and if they were caught with any non-sponsor product Roger would fire their asses on the spot.  A couple of the guys eventually did change out of their Penske team attire and came down incognito for some brews.


So anyway, they followed us in early Monday AM and while we raced all day, they set up their paddock area and even got one of the Spyders out to begin work.  And they hired a detail crew to clean the transporters.  These guys spent the entire day cleaning and polishing the rigs!!


Monday morning, I put a couple of Bosch stickers on my car over the rear wheel wells to cover some paint blisters from tire rub on a previous track day - those damn Torque Thrust wheels were a constant pain in my ass!!


Ray and I lined up to head out on the track ...


An awesome view of The Streets, particularly in February for someone from snowy Michigan.



At the end of the day, the Penske Team asked if we would like to do an impromptu photoshoot with the RS Spyder as their way of saying thanks for saving them a day's setup time.  Absolutely.  And as luck would have it, R Gruppe member Randy Wells  - see Randy's website here - who is a renowned professional photographer was there and offered to shoot the cars! Their only stipulation is that we could not publish the photos on the internet.   Well, that was over 5 years ago and the ALMS program has long since gone by the wayside so I think I'm safe in finally posting a small, low-resolution image of the Gray Wolf, the RS Spyder, and the freshly washed & polished transporter.

 ..... don't tell Roger.