ROBERT BAR­RIE

More from our res­i­dent racer

Classic Porsche - - Contents -

The open­ing rounds of the 2-Litre Cup – the new mono-type series for pre-66 Fia-spec early 911s – have been great. We look at the races at Spa and Di­jon else­where in this is­sue (see pages 90–93), but for now, some more gen­eral ob­ser­va­tions. First, the pad­dock. At Peter Auto events, the race cars are on dis­play and ev­ery­thing else is out of the way. Itʼs a much bet­ter look and feel than the dis­or­gan­ised jumble seen at most his­toric race meet­ings. We park next to our fel­low com­peti­tors. The idea is that if we get to know each other off the track weʼll be bet­ter-be­haved on it. Oddly, it seems to work.

Every­one is friendly and there have been very few in­ci­dents. We had a prob­lem at Spa and needed some parts. A cou­ple of front-run­ning teams pro­vided them. You know who you are and the gen­eros­ity was much ap­pre­ci­ated.

The series scru­ti­neer hangs with us and is em­i­nently rea­son­able. I was pinged at Spa for not hav­ing a fire­proof vest and then for pro­duc­ing one that was outof-date. All very am­i­ca­ble, though l did have to buy a costly re­place­ment at the cir­cuit. Damn. My kit was all present and cor­rect at Di­jon.

As with any new series, there is some fine-tun­ing that can use­fully be done in the early days. Af­ter Spa, the or­gan­is­ers sug­gested we adopt a stan­dard tyre size and that the lim­its on track width – al­ready ex­tended from the ba­sic FIA regs – should ap­ply with­out fur­ther tol­er­ance. No prob­lem with any of that. At Di­jon, there were ca­pac­ity checks on the lead­ing cars. It was a bit frus­trat­ing for those in­volved, but nec­es­sary and the right mes­sage pour en­cour­ager les autres. All were com­pli­ant.

I would­nʼt be sur­prised if en­gine seal­ing was re­quired at some point – itʼs be­com­ing best prac­tice. In­ter­est­ingly, one of the en­gines checked at Di­jon had a UK seal, but the French were re­luc­tant to recog­nise it. A long tra­di­tion of mu­tual in­com­pre­hen­sion con­tin­ues in some quar­ters, it seems.

I was watch­ing the en­gine checks at Di­jon when I got chat­ting to a Uk-based col­lec­tor about early 911Ss – specif­i­cally, the first few RHD cars that came to AFN in 1966. He owns one and I have been re­search­ing some of the oth­ers re­cently. The very first car was the Light Ivory Mo­tor Show and press car. It may have been de­liv­ered as early as Au­gust and was the sub­ject of an Au­to­car road test. The car sold at auc­tion a few years back in a poor state, though with many orig­i­nal parts still present. It is un­der­go­ing an ex­ten­sive restora­tion.

The con­ven­tional wis­dom is that it was fol­lowed by an­other three cars with con­sec­u­tive reg­is­tra­tion numbers in Septem­ber. As far as I can tell, that was not the case. I canʼt find any record of the first. The sec­ond is owned by the col­lec­tor and reg­u­larly seen at events. The third, which does­nʼt seem to have ar­rived un­til Oc­to­ber, was bought by Alan Mann. Itʼs not clear what, if any­thing, he and his race team did with the car, but it sub­se­quently ap­peared – by now in dif­fer­ent hands – on the TAP Rally in Por­tu­gal in 1968 and the Monte Carlo Rally in 1969.

There are a cou­ple of fan­tas­tic pic­tures from the lat­ter in Mau­rice Loucheʼs ex­cel­lent two-vol­ume cov­er­ing Porsche on the Monte Carlo Rally as well as the sug­ges­tion that, by the time they reached Monaco, the crew had man­aged to lose their pass­ports. The trail goes cold again af­ter that, un­for­tu­nately. It would be fas­ci­nat­ing to know what be­came of the car.

The same col­lec­tor also owns one of my old 911s. A base model, in Light Ivory again, as so many of the ear­li­est cars were. It was one of the first RHD cars to come to the UK in 1965 – a year or so be­fore the first 911Ss. I re­mem­ber tak­ing it to Spa shortly af­ter buy­ing it to take part in the Six Hours race with, frankly, no real idea of what that might in­volve. The car had re­cently been re­stored and we ran it in more or less un­mod­i­fied road trim, com­plete with a ra­dio!

It must have been twenty years ago or so. I re­call that we fin­ished the race – not too badly, as it hap­pens – and came back slightly wiser, but with our en­thu­si­asm and op­ti­mism undimmed. They were sim­pler and more straight­for­ward times. Hav­ing seen the pace of the quicker cars in the 2-Litre Cup at Spa and Di­jon, they were also slower times.

The fastest car and driver com­bi­na­tions now lap Spa in not much more than three min­utes. It wonʼt be long – next sea­son, per­haps, or the one af­ter – be­fore some­one goes be­low that marker. For rea­sons we have re­hearsed be­fore, old cars con­tinue to get faster. They are bet­ter pre­pared and bet­ter driven.

I un­der­stand some prom­i­nent com­peti­tors were to be seen prac­tic­ing on a cir­cuit sim­u­la­tor be­fore Di­jon. There is noth­ing wrong with that in my opin­ion, but it does rather show how times have changed! If we have a good run you can be sure you will read about it here – pos­si­bly at some length. If we donʼt, you prob­a­bly wonʼt!

The moral of the story is that itʼs not just the cars them­selves that make these ac­tiv­i­ties such fun, itʼs the places we go to, the peo­ple we meet and the non­sense we get up to along the way. Long may it last. CP

“AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, THAT WAS NOT THE CASE…”

Robert has a par­tic­u­lar fas­ci­na­tion with early 911Ss, es­pe­cially those first reg­is­tered in the UK, hav­ing been sold by AFN…

Robert Bar­rie is a clas­sic Porsche en­thu­si­ast through and through. As well as com­pet­ing in his­toric events with a va­ri­ety of early Porsches and or­gan­is­ing track days, heʼs also a pur­veyor of fine clas­sic au­to­mo­biles

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