SPE­CIAL­IST: RENO RENNSPORT

911 Porsche World - - Contents - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy: Matt Stone

Porsche maintenance Nevada style

The Reno and Lake Ta­hoe ar­eas of Nevada have long been as­so­ci­ated with Porsche, what with Porsche’s US oper­a­tions be­ing based there for many years. This has re­sulted in a num­ber of Porsche spe­cial­ists tak­ing res­i­dence, with Reno Rennsport play­ing a prom­i­nent role in lo­cal Porsche ex­per­tise, as we find out when we drop in for a shop tour...

There must be some­thing spe­cial in the air round the Lake Ta­hoe and Reno ar­eas of Nevada, as the place is rife with Porsches and Porsche peo­ple. Porsche Cars North Amer­ica was once lo­cated there, prior to its move to the cur­rent HQ and Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tre prop­er­ties in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia. Porsche mega col­lec­tor Ran­son Web­ster and his world beat­ing, multi-hun­dreds deep car col­lec­tion lives there, too. And Porsche spe­cial­ist shops EBS Rac­ing and Reno Rennsport are each within a few min­utes’ drive of the Reno Ta­hoe Air­port.

Reno Rennsport opened doors in 2008. There are cur­rently four owner/part­ners pi­lot­ing the shop. They are Mat Lowrance (pro­nounced much more like “Lawrence” than “Low-rance”) be­gan his ca­reer in the bay area ser­vic­ing early air-cooled Porsches. Mat worked on and owned a num­ber of 911 Ss, RSRS, RS and other now highly col­lectible mod­els. He also helped de­velop and main­tain pro­fes­sional race cars such as the 935s that were cam­paigned in the IMSA se­ries. He also built and ran his own Porsches in sev­eral pro­fes­sional IMSA races through­out the late ’80s and early ’90s. Af­ter IMSA he moved to SCCA re­gional rac­ing in which he notched dozens of podium fin­ishes. He is re­spon­si­ble for build­ing a num­ber of front run­ning club rac­ing Porsches in both Spec 911 and GT race classes. Once he re­lo­cated to Reno he be­came the lead Porsche spe­cial­ist for Sport Haus for 28 years. Mat be­came a part­ner of Reno Rennsport in 2009. Mat will work on any­thing in the shop, but can be thought of as the “old school, air-cooled” part­ner. He re­mains an ac­tive 911 racer.

Jess Lat­tin is a cer­ti­fied Porsche Mas­ter Tech­ni­cian who be­gan his ca­reer with the Porsche deal­er­ship in Reno over 15 years ago. He has logged over 1000 hours of Porsche fac­tory train­ing in Porsche’s North Amer­i­can fa­cil­i­ties. He earned its high­est cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a Porsche tech­ni­cian and was the head tech at the deal­er­ship for many years. Jess has ex­cep­tional ex­per­tise with water-cooled Porsches and newer mod­els. He has sig­nif­i­cant train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on 996s, 997s, 991s, Cayennes, Cay­mans, Panam­eras, 918s and Carrera GTS. He was one of the first few Tech­ni­cians in the US to com­plete 996 and 997 en­gine dis­place­ment en­large­ments. Jess is the Tech­ni­cal Chair­man on the board for Porsche Club of Amer­ica’s Sierra Nevada Re­gion. The “water-cooled Porsche guy.”

Part­ner John Trautwein’s day to day job is Head of Shop Oper­a­tions and brings over 10 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as Rennsport’s head BMW Tech­ni­cian. He is also in­ti­mately in­volved with Rennsport’s Porsche work and helps man­age all large builds and projects at the shop. John be­came a part­ner in 2014. He is known for ex­otic BMW stro­ker en­gine projects, turbo and su­per­charger builds, but has also built Porsche spec 911 race cars and pre­pared sev­eral Mini Coop­ers for race com­pe­ti­tion in SCCA. John has ex­ten­sive train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for water-cooled Porsche en­gine man­age­ment and mechanical sys­tems. Think of him as the BMW guy and shop man­ager.

Brian Lowrance (yes, Mat’s son) is Reno Rennsport’s busi­ness oper­a­tions man­ager, bring­ing over a decade of ex­pe­ri­ence in fi­nance and cor­po­rate oper­a­tions. He holds a Bach­e­lor’s de­gree in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion (driv­ing a ’75 911 through col­lege in cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia) and has earned nu­mer­ous fi­nan­cial des­ig­na­tions. Brian has spent nearly 20 years rac­ing and de­vel­op­ing Porsches with father Mat. He cur­rently campaigns a 1969 Porsche 911 in the Porsche Rac­ing Club’s Spec 911 se­ries – of­ten run­ning against his dad. Brian

be­came a Rennsport part­ner in 2016.

Reno Rennsport cur­rently em­ploys 13, in­clud­ing the four part­ners, and oc­cu­pies a 12,000sq ft in­dus­trial build­ing space; in­clud­ing re­cep­tion, of­fices, ve­hi­cle and parts stores, main work­shop, fab­ri­ca­tion shop, and an en­gine room. Brian ad­vises that Reno Rennsport is pri­mar­ily a ser­vices com­pany, al­though has be­gun par­tic­i­pat­ing in more and more prod­uct and parts devel­op­ment. “We’ll do any­thing from an oil change to a full con­cours restora­tion” on vir­tu­ally any Porsche, from the old­est to the new­est and most ex­otic (SUVS and Panam­eras also wel­come). Plus all man­ner of race car builds. One of the more in­ter­est­ing projects in the shop is a Cayman which was writ­ten off by the owner’s in­sur­ance com­pany as a to­tal in last year’s Hur­ri­cane Har­vey flood in Texas, which is be­ing re­built as a big-en­gined track-only mon­ster with a full in-house fab­ri­cated roll cage; its nick­name is the Hur­ricay­man. Cayman race builds are be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar given that early Cay­mans of rel­a­tively mod­est spec are com­mon and not ex­ceed­ingly expensive to ac­quire. Of course, many of the go-fast good­ies de­vel­oped for the 911 and even the Boxster fit the coupe and the Cayman’s nat­u­ral mi­dengined weight bal­ance and stiff chas­sis struc­ture give it some nat­u­ral talent on track, es­pe­cially for novice or rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced rac­ers. One of the fas­ci­nat­ing things the Reno Renn folks have learned dur­ing the Hur­ricay­man build is how much cer­tain fac­tory in­stalled com­po­nents weigh, such as an air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, ob­vi­ously stripped out and not needed in a track car. An­other big weight adder is the fac­tory wiring harness which, when you think of all the sen­sors placed around the car and the au­dio sys­tem and en­gine com­put­ers, and how many com­po­nents con­nected by wire, adds up to a lot; in the case of this Cayman, about 150 pounds of wiring has been re­moved, and it will all be re­placed by a much sim­pler, light­weight rac­ing harness.

So far Reno Renn’s largest and most in­volved prod­uct devel­op­ment project has been a part­ner­ship with Brit com­pany AT Power. AT Power’s spe­cial­ity is ex­tremely pre­cise high-per­for­mance throt­tle body sys­tems. These but­ter­fly valve throt­tle bod­ies are crafted of very high tech ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing alu­minum and ti­ta­nium al­loys; and while they are par­tic­u­larly well suited to race cars, they are also prov­ing quite pop­u­lar when tuned for high per­for­mance street ap­pli­ca­tions. Reno Rennsport is a pri­mary AT Power devel­op­ment part­ner, and ex­clu­sive dis­trib­u­tor of these sys­tems in North Amer­ica. Lowrance also ad­vises that Reno Renn has other joint ven­tures, with a few oth­ers un­der eval­u­a­tion.

Some­thing else the com­pany has de­vel­oped a con­sid­er­able rep­u­ta­tion for is big inch engines. 3.5, 3.6 and 3.8 litres – both air- and water-cooled – are now ev­ery­day builds, with 4.0-litres and up

be­com­ing ever more com­mon.

As you’d imag­ine given the com­pany’s geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, most of its busi­ness comes from in and around the west­ern United States, pri­mar­ily Nevada, Cal­i­for­nia and Ari­zona. Al­though oc­ca­sion­ally a car is shipped in long dis­tance if that cus­tomer knows of Reno Renn, or wants their par­tic­u­lar brand of ser­vice or build.

Be­sides pur­vey­ing the goods from AT Power, ESS Tun­ing, Hal­tech En­gine Man­age­ment and Braid Wheels, the Reno part­ners are also be­gin­ning to dab­ble in used parts, and par­tic­u­larly used race parts: Af­ter decades of wrench­ing on pro­fes­sional IMSA rac­ers, Mat Lowrance has col­lected bin­loads of pe­riod rac­ing spec pieces, pri­mar­ily for 911s, and the shop is find­ing a ready mar­ket for some of the rare and racy bits. Plus all man­ner of used wheels, engines, en­gine parts, body pan­els, take-off brake sys­tems and the rest. Look for this area of the busi­ness to ex­pand.

An­other as­pect of the Porsche busi­ness that ap­pears to be ever more com­mon at Reno Rennsport is the recom­mis­sion­ing of ‘garage find’ cars that be­longed to a par­ent, friend or rel­a­tive of some­one, and have spent the last five, ten or 30 years sit­ting, and the orig­i­nal – or a new – owner wants to get the car fresh­ened up and back on the road. Nat­u­rally a com­pre­hen­sive all sys­tems ma­jor ser­vice is the min­i­mum start­ing point here, and may or may not evolve deeper restora­tion into paint and body­work. Some­thing that hap­pens all too of­ten in these cases, depend­ing upon the lo­ca­tion and se­cu­rity of the car’s stor­age, is ro­dent and/or in­sect infestation. Rats and other such crit­ters feast on a car’s wiring and in­su­la­tion, chew­ing and eat­ing into it so dra­mat­i­cally that a car may need a new elec­tri­cal harness to get back on the road. Of­ten the en­tire in­te­rior of the car will need to be stripped out and thor­oughly cleaned and de­odorised – the lit­tle bug­gers tend to make quite the mess of an old leather in­te­rior. Some­times it can all be cleaned up, treated and reused; other times it adds up to an in­te­rior re­trim.

An­other in­ter­est­ing prob­lem that Brian and the Reno Renn team have had to deal with more as of late is when rats or mice lay their nests on the cylin­der bore fins in be­tween the cylin­ders. “If the rats have built large enough nests on the cool­ing fins, and enough of them died in there, it usu­ally means we have to dis­as­sem­ble and then re­assem­ble most of the en­gine to prop­erly clean ev­ery­thing up.”

Be­sides race builds, Reno Rennsport han­dles all man­ner of street per­for­mance up­grades: engines, wheels, tyres, brakes, sus­pen­sion mods and full trans­mis­sion ser­vices. And if you’re in or around North­ern Nevada, there’s al­most no job Reno Renn won’t tackle on your Porsche, old or new, air- or water-cooled. PW

Ever more com­mon at Reno Rennsport is restor­ing ‘garage find’ cars

Reno Rennsport can work on the full gamut of air-cooled and water-cooled Porsches, with the four part­ners/own­ers each spe­cial­is­ing in their own Porsche area of ex­per­tise

Reno Rennsport em­ploys 13 peo­ple to keep the Reno dis­trict Porsches on the road, al­though we can only see 11 here, so they’re ei­ther cam­era shy or have pulled a sickie!

Right: Wild, widearched racer rather catches the eye. Far right: Reno Rennsport’s lat­est project is the ‘Hur­ricay­man’, so named af­ter the donor Cayman was writ­ten off in flood­ing in Texas, thanks to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey

Reno Rennsport has formed a pro­duc­tive as­so­ci­a­tion with UK based AT Power, to use AT’S su­per high­qual­ity throt­tle bod­ies

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