Fontana CA - April 2008 - return to the California Festival of Speed.

by: Keith V of CA

3 at the credentials building - Fontana
The three of Loren P, Michael V and Keith V were the first owners to meet at Fontana's credential building.

The meet.

I met Loren P and Michael V of California (both owners of guards red ) for the first time at the credentials building at what used to be called “California Speedway”, but is now “Autoclub Speedway” in Fontana at 8:45am Sunday morning. We immediately started checking out each others and pretty soon all agreed that no two are identical. The two guards red cars, which at first glance appeared to be twins, but closer inspection revealed subtle but distinct differences.

Loren's car was the more stock of the two, he had not put the “” and “” emblems on his rear deck lid, and overall the car looked to be very close to factory stock - including having the suspension at the US ride height - which is fairly unusual as lowering is one of the first modifications that owners make.

Loren P of CA
Loren P of CA's looking completely stock - including the factory US-market ride height, mirror bras and no rear deck lid emblems.

Michael V's car had some of the best chrome finish Mille Miglia Cup 1 wheels I have seen, in fact they looked as if they had been refinished 15 minutes ago. The Cup 1 wheels are standard equipment for the RSA, but the mirror finish is not. Additionally, Michael had fitted a fabspeed twin tip exhaust pipe along with associated rear bumper left quarter panel - which we all three of us agreed significantly improved the rear view of the with the symmetrical exhaust tips a-la 965 (C2 Turbo) making the whole car look much more balanced. We also agreed that this should have been stock factory configuration for the model.

Michael V of CA
Michael V of CA's with chromed Cup I wheels and GREAT sounding twin exhausts.

Just as the three of us decided to head in to the Paddock area, Mark L pulled up in his black . This swelled our ranks to a lofty four and at this point we really had no idea how many other owners might show up for the paddock and track tour.

Four at the credentials building Fontana
Just as the three of us were about to head in to the paddock area, Mark L arrived.

I had heard from two owners - Steve G of CA and Jim B of CA that they had entered the Club race and the time trial and would be running the track at full speed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Understandably, having driven the track at competitive speeds for three days, a reduced speed lunch time track tour was not really that appealing.

Steve G of CA at full speed
Steve G of CA at full speed in his during the Club race at the California Festival of Speed. As he was competing
that weekend he understandably declined my invitation to participate in a reduced speed lunch time track tour.

As previously arranged with the event organizers, the $10 entrance fee was waived for all registry members in attendance, but the $20 fee for track tour participation still applied. We went to the credentials building paid our $20 and were given wrist bands, speedway maps and directions to the Porsche paddock. The four of us “saddled up”, formed an convoy and headed to the infield.

Mark L of CA
Mark L of CA's is a rare, zero option car in the true spirit of the light weight, no frills, performance oriented 911 that is the .

The Paddock.

To get to the paddock area we had to go through the narrow tunnel under the track - which is where we realized just how good the Fabspeed dual tip muffler on Michael V's sounded. Apparently, while we were driving though the tunnel there must have been some kids driving through the other way that we didn't see because, as we emerged from the tunnel, a lot of heads were turned to see who was roaring through gunning their engine almost to the rev limiter, and can you believe it ... everyone thought it was us! ........... those darned kids !!!

Once inside the track, Michael V headed off as he had to report to the track tour area because he had signed up to lead one of the tours. The black, red and yellow cars selected a spot away from all other cars in the middle of a huge open expanse of parking lot and claimed it as the corral. We parked parallel and spread out leaving an empty space between each of us and the next car. We fired off a few digital pictures of the three cars together, decided to go and check out the event activities and meet back here at the paddock at 11 so we could head over to the track tour area so as to be first in line for the 12 o'clock tour.

Morning paddock
With Michael V off working, the paddock was down to three ... but they were DARNED good ones!

The main event.

There was a lot to see and any Porsche fan would be like a kid in a candy store. There were roughly 160 Porsches who were actually participating in the weekends competitive driving events, from the full on club race - door to door racing with unrestricted passing, to an enduro, plus sprint races and the regular PCA Time Trials. With this much track activity there was never a minute when something exciting was not going on with much to see both out on the track and in the pit/paddock area. On many occasions it was actually more fun to watch similarly matched cars and drivers battling it out for a place in the middle of the pack, than it was to simply watch the race leaders.

With so much racing going on there was something for everyone pretty much all day, plus there was vendor row where several local merchants had booths selling everything from racing equipment like helmets, shoes, gloves and driving suits, to demonstrations of paintless dent removal and even wheel refinishing at discount “today only” prices. Several people had their wheels refinished to get rid of “curb rash”. There were numerous local Porsche dealers in attendance with booths where they were selling genuine Porsche Boutique items at unbelievably low prices - I guess they needed the space and were accepting offers just to get rid of a lot of factory inventory they had in stock.

Jim B of CA
Jim B of CA was also at the California Festival of Speed but as he was driving his at full speed in the Time Trial event,
he decided not to join us for the reduced speed lunchtime track tour.

There was also a large paddock with well over 100 Porsches gathered by model which made interesting viewing, the largest model group by far was the 993's - which consisted of roughly 25 - 30 cars, and the next largest group was the Boxsters and Caymans, of which there were around 20.

Nect to the Paddock the local Porsche dealers had set up a mini autocross track and were offering ride-along's with professional Porsche drivers to anyone interested. Additionally there were examples of the new Cayenne GTS available to drive around a small but clearly marked autocross track. Everyone I spoke to that had driven the Cayenne GTS was very impressed by the fact that it was set up and handled like a spirited sports car and not at all like an SUV.

When we met up again back at the paddock, imagine our surprise when we found some PLONKER had parked his 911SC between the red and yellow - it was a good thing I had taken a couple of pictures of our cars grouped together when we first arrived in the paddock. We then headed over to the track tour area, we found out that the track tour was not at 12:00 as we had thought, but 12:40 so we were almost two hours early! The good news was that we certainly were first in line!

The Track tour.

3 in the track tour line
The first three cars in line for the lunchtime track tour.........
...... or so we thought!!

As we waited, more and more cars arrived and formed three parallel lines. There was a huge variety of vehicles, it soon became clear that although the California Festival of Speed is a Porsche event - billed as the largest Porsche event on the West coast, there were a large number of non-Porsche drivers in attendance who were interested in a track tour. There were SUV's, pick up trucks and family vans, saloon cars as well as sports cars. There was everything from a Lincoln Town car, to numerous Honda's, Toyota's and a Ferrari 360 Berlinetta.

Then Michael V pulled in front of the three RSAs to lead the first track tour group - or so we thought. Then as we waited, a driver who was running his black 965 (the 3.3L version of the C2 Turbo) in the time trials, asked if he could go at the front of the first tour with his son, because he had a drivers meeting he had to be at right after lunch. So, he pulled in front of Michael V and the four were now cars two thru five.

As 12:40 drew close and the last Drivers Cup race cars came off the track, I noticed a chap and his wife talking to Michael V, and Michael offered the wife a chance to ride in the passenger seat of his RSA. When I saw the husband standing watching his wife in Michael's car, I offered him the chance to ride in my passenger seat - it seemed like a win-win situation as I was not comfortable with the thought of trying to take pictures while driving the tour. No sooner was my new passenger strapped into my five point harness and given crash course in how to operate my camera, than we started heading out onto the track.

Starting the lunch time track tour.
As the lead car (a red 911SC) headed out onto the track, it was followed by a black 965 (3.3L Turbo) and then four .

All three of the images of out the track were taken by my passenger - who I only knew as Bob - many thanks Bob - great job!

Once we were actually rolling on the track we got up to about 65 mph on the in field - which I was kind of expecting, so drivers could get accustomed to the track and the cars tires, brakes and engine could warm up. What I was not expecting, was halfway around the track as we were just about to come off the infield and up onto the front straight, we were flagged to a complete stop!! I guess the lead car was in touch with the tail car and the group was massively stretched out - even before we got onto the faster portion of the track. I was completely unaware at the time but learned later that somebody spun in the first half of the first lap - perhaps that was why we were held so long.

Whaletails as far as the eye could see!
From number four, there were whaletails as far as the eye could see!

Once we were flagged to continue once again, we picked the pace up to an almost mind blowing 75 mph on a perfectly smooth, clean, 5-lanes wide track. With that wide a track, 75 mph felt like you could get out and hop faster! We cruised around about 1/3 of the way up the banking into NASCAR turns 1 and 2 and not surprisingly all bunched up together for turn 3 the 90 degree left-hander turning into the in-field. Under normal circumstances turn 3 is right after the hardest braking on the track, with the highest approach speeds, and one of - if not the slowest turn-in speed. A good turn in here is critical during competition as a good driver will select a line to set himself up for the immediate right hander (turn 4) leading onto a straight. We rolled around the infield behind the pace car, only to be stopped once again at the point where we entered the track. After we let another group go onto the track in front of us, we cruised the remainder of the in field, and, before we could get back onto the front straight .... we were flagged off the track and directed into pit lane and then out through the pit area. So that was it!! One and a half laps, all at under 75 mph. There were a lot of unhappy people.

The end of the track tour
Coming back into pit lane at the end of a disappointing track tour.

The “huge misunderstanding.”

What happened next is best described as a huge misunderstanding. As the line of cars came in through the hot pits and then the cold pits, we were following the lead car from the track tour, who made his way back to the front of the track tour parking area so he could head out onto the track and lead the next group of cars. Well, most drivers realized that the track tour was over and dispersed back to wherever they had been parked before the tour ... but ..... a couple of drivers must have had a brain-fart or something because they followed the lead car when he went back out with the second group. It was very confusing, and nobody realized what was going on until it dawned on us that we had somehow got mixed up and ended going out in the second track tour as well!!!

Goodness gracious!! ....... what a mix up!!

Anyway, there was nothing that could be done, except to comply with all the rules and regulations and drive cautiously and safely around the track behind the pace car until he turned off after another four laps.

The paddock after the track tour
Michael V, Keith V and Loren P headed back to the paddock after the track tour, but unfortunately Mark L had to leave and was gone by that time. Note the new Cayenne GTS that was available for test drives through a brief but challenging autocross course in the background.

So with a turn out of a total of four street and a further two competing in the PCA Club Race/Time Trial, the registry turn out was far from spectacular, but, having said that, ask yourself how many times have you driven a Speedway track - including the infield - in a pack of ?

The famous RSA whale tail.
The most distinguishing feature - the famous “Whale tail”.

The California Festival of Speed event in Fontana was fun and continues to develop into an annual Southern California Porsche spectacular. Adding it as an annual event to the calendar for registry members does indeed seem a logical next step.

I sincerely hope that this article has peaked your interest enough to make you want to participate with your next year.

Picture the track tour ...... but instead of a line of 4 ..... imagine an entire run group of nothing but ! All it takes is a little organization and a commitment from a group of owners who want to have a little fun!!

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