Text and photography by Luke Munnell
Let’s Make a Deal
I love Porsches. You probably love Porsches. It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone either loves Porsches or just doesn’t know it yet. Why? Two reasons: They’re performance-bred, through and through; and they’re pretty much immune to labels and hate in the automotive world.
A European export, Porsche just doesn’t seem bound by the “Euro” designation like popular BMW, VW, or Audi models. You wouldn’t get much flack from the JDM crowd for driving a Porsche. Hell, the mass adaptation of widebody aero components originally designed for your car might just prove to be the next big JDM trend (RWB, anyone?). Even among red-blooded domestic muscle guys, you’d have a difficult time finding one who wouldn’t be impressed after a few laps in a 911 GT3 R.
So let’s make a deal. Let’s assume you either don’t know Porsches, or just don’t like them. If you can get through our twelve favorite Porsches from this year’s 18th annual joint venture between the Porsche Club of America (PCA) and Porsche Owners Club (POC) without becoming a convert, you win. You’ll be free to search for whatever other content you like right here on Front Street Media (like our recent Sweet Sixteen radial drag racing, VTEC Club, or Formula 1 Australian GP, for example). If you don’t, well… you may need to seek professional medical help. Already love Porsches as much as we do? Then you’ll really love this:
Dr. Alex Marmureanu, and his No. 12 2013 997 Porsche 911 GT3 R
One of at least two retired Manthey Racing ADAC GT competition cars from Europe, this 2013 GT3 R has been raced in the event—ever faster, it seems—by local surgeon Alex Marmureanu for as long as we’ve covered it. This year the duo won both of the event’s fastest sprint races, placed third in the 70-minute endurance race, and clocked a blistering 1:37.648 qualifying lap which from what we can tell was the quickest lap by any car of the entire three-day event.
Now sporting the Flying Lizard banner (Sonoma, California race builders and multiple-time winners of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill), we have to wonder just how far Dr. Marmureanu is planning his extremely competitive pastime.
Manthey Racing No. 85 Porsche 997 GT3 R
In the six years between 2006 and 2011, German-born Manthey Racing has won its class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times. And that doesn’t count the team wins in several other professional racing series’ contested in Europe and abroad, not to mention various club racing events, where its machines often race in retirement.
Enter the No. 85 Porsche GT3 R that’s become iconic within Porsche Owners Club championship series competition. It usually does quite well here, battling Dr. Marmureanu and a few others for wins, but this time withdrew from competition after running a best 1:39.513 in practice and encountering a mechanical issue. We’ll no doubt see that improved upon soon.
Robert Mueller’s No. 28 2014 991 Porsche 911 GT America
No, not that Robert Mueller. Before that one even began his investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, our Bob Mueller was investigating German collusion in professional racing, and found some strong examples of it in the 991 2014 Porsche 911 GT America.
A GT3 Cup variant produced specifically for the GTD class of the United (nigh IMSA) SportsCar Championship, this car was only raced for two years before being succeeded by the 991 GT3 R. Still an extremely fast machine, our Bob Mueller drove his to the second-fastest lap of the weekend in practice, almost running down Dr. Marmureanu’s GT3 R, with a 1:38.227-second lap.
Vision Motorsports Jagermeister No. 44 1969 911
Sometimes earning the win is what cements a racing car in the history books as iconic. But more often than not, it’s simply some unusual livery (unless you’re Mazda, then it takes a combination of both). Case and point: the two Max Moritz Racing 1976 934 Porsche 911s that ushered in this iconic bright orange Jagermeister livery.
This No. 44 1969 911, campaigned by Vision Motorsports of Laguna Hills, California, and driven by Geoff Steinbach (the German Geoff Stoneback?!) is neither of those historied cars, but built-to-the-hilt with today’s best parts and craftsmanship, and running a best 1:44.049, it certainly deserved the massive attention it commanded throughout the weekend.
Steve Parker’s 1980 930 911
Remember that bit in the beginning of the article about a certain Japanese tuner making his Porsche widebody designs the newest big thing in JDM tuning? Well, this car is a hard-driven, patinaed, thoroughly loved version of cool before it was cool.
Imagine buying this car, modifying or maintaining it as you see it today, racing the crap out of it for decades, collecting rock chips… and actually having it all appreciate in value! That’s roughly been Steve Parker’s experience, and knocking on the door of the minute-thirty threshold with a 1:40.098 fastest lap this time around, the two just seem to be getting faster and—whether they know it or not—cooler, each year.
Rasant Products 1975 Porsche 911 S
Let’s take just a quick break from the track to focus on some machinery we found lining Vendor Row at this year’s show. Starting with this beauty, which we first spied at last year’s Luftgekuhlt show.
Tucked away near the restrooms as it sadly was, it nonetheless turned its share of heads with its caged and carpeted interior, custom LED display, tucked engine bay, fifteen52 wheels, and cherry-red paint—endlessly clean, inside and out.
Ryan Hoegner’s 1982 Porsche 911 SC
If Ryan’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you are or have been a Honda head and are familiar with the annual Eibach Honda Meet he co-founded and has hosted for the past decade and a half. Well, surprise! He’s also a Porsche guy.
Pooling his Honda-industry connections, this collaboration with Ryan Basseri and RyWire (who also owns a GT3 RS), Eibach (who make springs for just about everything), and Sleepers Speed Shop (vintage Porsche cool guys) was a major head turner at SEMA and probably our pick for cleanest of the show this year. Simple, clean, perfect.
Vali Motorsports No. 776 2016 991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Absolutely our favorite newcomer to the California Festival of Speed was this insanely cool GT3 R, driven by John Cahalin from the PCA’s San Diego region. Aside from the Lexan and tech/door stickers it could actually pass for street-appearing, which in its own way is every bit as cool as repping full racing livery.
If that’s not enough, John posted the fastest time of the weekend in PCA time-trials (with a 1:41.89x), ran both fastest-class POC sprint races (clocking an even faster 1:40.167), and survived the 70-minute enduro, finishing sixth overall. Not a bad way to spend your first California Festival of Speed.
TKO Motorsports No. 775 2016 Porsche 991 GT3 R
Let’s squeeze in one more newbie GT3 R, this one driven by David Traitel and Memo Gidley to also take their first Festival weekend by storm. After a successful 2017 Pirelli World Challenge and 2018 club racing season, the trio debuted here with conservative performances in sprint racing, but blasted an ultra-quick 1:38.532 lap time in the 70-minute endurance and ultimately finished second overall, a mere 10 seconds from the win.
With a full season of POC and other club racing ahead, it’s really starting to become apparent that next year’s Festival might just be a real battle of the titans!
911 Design No. 77 2018 991.2 Porsche 911 Cup
This car is a great example of how Porsche technology seems to be constantly evolving. Despite being far less radical than any of the GT3 Rs in attendance, Doug Baron embarrassed his fair share of them by driving very nearly in the 1:38s (with a 1:39.101 quickest time for the weekend), finished a close second and third in both of the two top-flight sprint races, and even finished seventh in the enduro.
Another car and driver that just seem to get quicker over time, we’re wondering just how soon it’ll be until Doug overshadows those Rs completely and rakes in more Ws of his own.
David Leyvas’s No. 111 1997 986 Porsche Boxster
OK, so by now you’re sold. You understand how awesome Porsches are, how rich their history is and you want to dive in. But as the kids say, “those 911 prices, though…” Thankfully, there’s the Porsche Boxster. They may be a touch “emasculated” in stock form, but when they look and perform as well as David’s, you can agree they become a pretty attractive option.
David drove this car last year (stock fendered and in Martini livery) to repeat sprint race class wins. After adding some major girth to its corners and filling them with more rubber (turned by more torque, we’re guessing), it made the jump to top-flight competition and recorded a best 1:45.912 lap before encountering some mechanical issue and retiring. Still, the look of this thing alone will make almost anyone think twice about passing up on Porsche’s oft-forsaken roadster.
Porsche 917 racing prototype (kind of)
Here it is. The car that earned Porsche its first overall 24 Hours of Le Mans wins in 1970 and 1971. Er, well… a replica of one, at least, based on a VW chassis. So why are we featuring a modified Euro pretending to be one of the rarest and most legendary Porsches of all time? Because owner, Scott, is a legit Porsche collector and mechanic, and he drives this one wherever it goes.
No trailers for Scott because, as he tells us with a hearty laugh, “When I eventually do get a real one, I’m gonna drive it, too!”
So now you’re a Porsche lover, yes? Yes. We knew it. It’s inevitable. It is your destiny. Now all you need to do is come to the Festival of Speed next year for yourself and see, hear, and feel these amazing machines in all their glory, before becoming consumed by the addiction like the rest of us. Keep tabs with the PCA and POC, and stay with Front Street Media to feed that addiction, no matter your poison of choice!