More from our resident racer
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