With so many cars, drivers and teams, it’s no doubt been a logistical challenge to the Rennsport Reunion IV Porsche PR & Communications Managers, to keep track of which driver is due where and when at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this beautiful Indian Summer weekend. There’s a list of almost a hundred drivers in the mix, for meet and greet, interviews, autograph signings, appearances, posings, not to mention get in a race car now and then.
Saturday morning we were treated with a nice relaxed chat with three well-known American Porsche racers, from somewhat different eras: PATRICK LONG, DAVID DONOHUE, AND CHIP ROBINSON. Some questions were for all three, and others were driver-directed.
All three said they had a reverence for the historic Porsches, which have paid their dues.
Long has been to the last two Rennsport Reunions. Both Donohue and Robinson have been at all four.
Long said it was so much different driving them than just reading about them. They are somewhat harder to drive.
Donohue said it actually harder to drive an older/Historic Porsche. “I actually have to read the gauges, and they differ from car to car. There are no warning lights.”
Robinson isn’t racing at all this weekend, and admits he’s not driven any recent race cars. He said the old cars were reliable and consistent. “There was no pit lane speed back in his day. We had epic battles.”
Long asked Robinson if he drove ten tenths in endurance racing. Robinson’s reply – “I pushed as hard as I could. There was a limit between pushing the car to the limit and abusing it. I couldn’t relax at all. It was physical and we pushed the cars. The cars today are much more durable and can be a bit more abused.”
Donohue agreed, saying “The Rolex Grand-Am cars are really durable.”
Robinson said “Check out the cars on the podium. Usually they haven’t touched anything.”
Donohue said the newer cars were easier to drive with their sequential gear boxes, power steering, air conditioning, etc. You can’t select the wrong gear unless you’re an idiot.”
Robinson said back in his day racing didn’t take as much physical stamina, and the drivers weren’t into physical training, per se, and never got into it. The heroes back then, such as A.J. FOYT, started out in easier cars and changed incrementally over the years to adapt to it. Robinson said he ran to keep in shape.
Donohue pointed out the cars grew from low to high downforce.
All three were asked which was their favorite Rennsport Reunion Porsche this weekend.
Robinson said it was the 962 Lowenbrau car in which he won his championship. “It’s still one of the prettiest cars.”
Donohue said while he liked the Porsche 962, he’d never driven one. His favorite is the 908.
Long said he liked the old cars, with bigger steering wheels and smaller tires. They were more fun. He likes cars which handle well going through the corners. Long is having fun with the variety and diversity of the many cars he’s driven and will drive this weekend – I’m ‘sampling’ six to eight Porsches. With it being the 911 tribute year, he likes that car and would like to drive a 962.
Long said he was surprised and pleased that his 2005 ALMS Championship White Lightning Porsche was on display in the Porsche garage. It won a lot of races.
Donohue, son of the late MARK DONOHUE, is racing, literally, in the Porsche Cayman Interseries event, the only true all-out race of the weekend. It’s open to almost stock 2009-2011 Porsche Cayman S models, which have a heritage link with each car having graphics linking to iconic Porsche racers. Cars in this professional series are owned by Napleton Porsche. Donohue is racing the No.6 2011 Cayman in the 6A group, with livery like his father’s famous Sunoco race car. He said it was humbling to have driven in Rennsport IV in a car which pays homage to his father’s racing career.
Robinson admitted he’ never drive a current Porsche car, and isn’t driving anything this weekend – “not even a rental car.”
Donohue – There is a small community which is drawn to Rennsport.
Donohue said it was humbling to have driven in Rennsport IV in a car which pays homage to his father’s racing career. There is a small community which is drawn to Rennsport.
In talking about Porsche, Robinson said, unlike any other company, Porsche is the only company which has a racing theme and background to all its forms of motorsports.
Donohue agreed. Porsche is has unique, has no mediocrity. It builds always with some thing to attain, raise the bar, always be near the top, always have a stable, since it began production.
Long said it was about being light weight, efficient, tackle the giants and outrun them, to be there at the end. It’s embedded in the culture of Porsche. “I’m glad I’m here.”
All three were asked about their most memorable victory. Donohue said it was the 2009 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Bob (BOB CARLSON) has just passed away, BOB SNODGRASS had passed. Everybody on the team pulled weight, and we beat the giant by the smallest ever margin.
Robinson said his most memorable victory was in 1987, winning his first DAYTONA 24 Hour endurance race with the late AL HOLBERT – the first time the two had raced together.
Long said his most memorable moment was a personal victory for him. It was his first stint at the Nurburgring for the 24-hour endurance race. “It was a feeling I’ve never had, never such an emotion – still being alive after I got out of the car. I never have been so cared. It was a ton of fun, and now it’s way so special. I’m not sure if I ever want to go back.”