Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Astronauts and Porsches

Sunday, January 31, 1971.  A different era for certain.  As Porsche was winning the Daytona 24 Hour race with a 917K driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver, Apollo 14 sat on the launch pad in neighboring Cape Kennedy.  The race ended at 3 P.M.   The rocket was scheduled to light off 20 minutes later on a 5 day trip to Fra Mauro, Moon.   But weather delayed the launch until 4 P.M.  The fireball was visible from the track as the race cars were being loaded into their transporters.

Command Captain Alan Shepard was a sports car junkie.  The launch was flawless and there was not much conversation between Mission Control and Apollo that night.  But the following morning they finally heard from the crew when Shepard asked "who won the race?"!

By Friday, Shepard was walking on the Moon.
Fast forward to 2007.  I was in San Luis Obispo California with the R Gruppe.  One of our members owned a 1967 911S purchased new by Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham - probably my all-time favorite Porsche 911.  My buddy Jens and I were lucky to take this time capsule (no pun intended) for a 'spirited' afternoon-long drive up the coast.  Damn, it just doesn't get any better than that day.
Cunningham Doing Some Air Filter Maintenance

Walter Cunningham's 1967 911S

Traveling at highly illegal speed the posted speed limit.

A drive in the 'Astronaut Car' up the California coast!

Some of the original documentation.
Original license plate - Manned Space Center 911