After so many months of missing out, and missing each other, the stars aligned over the first week of September for the long-awaited Festival of Porsche. Under the blazing sun of a well-timed Indian summer, Brands Hatch opened its gates once again to more than 5500 visitors on the Sunday – roughly 2400 of whom were Club members. An incredible 1200 cars came with them, creating a magnificent backdrop to what promised to be an unforgettable day of single-make celebration.
As a focal point for our 60th anniversary year, the Festival of Porsche allowed the Porsche Club Great Britain to highlight so many of the things that make it unique, from its exceptional hospitality to the highly professional and accessible motorsport series. The marquee was a busy and jovial environment from the moment the gates opened, with old friends together again, the complimentary coffee flowing and our shared passion in evidence everywhere you looked.
Alongside the ever-popular retail and refreshments, the Club also opened separate Motorsport and Archive tents, created to help members learn more about the varied elements that make the Club so valuable to so many. An exceptional selection of cars was also on display, ranging from our own 356 to ultra-rare members’ cars such as the 924 GTS and 964 RS NGT.
Outside the marquee, the Clubhouse team had curated an impressive array of classic and modern exotica and assembled a chronological line-up of Boxsters to mark the 25th anniversary of this inimitable and defining roadster. Members brought together examples from every single year of manufacture, from the earliest 986 to the very latest 718.
The anniversary theme continued nearby with Porsche Cars’ own display, which featured, alongside the current complement of all-electric and GT cars, an example of the rare Boxster 25 Years edition. As part of its own series celebrating 70 years of success at Le Mans, Porsche had also provided a 550 Spyder and the unique 718 W-RS, a class winner in 1961 that would later be fitted with the eight-cylinder Formula 1 engine.
Everywhere you turned another cherished and often priceless example of Porsche’s 70-plus years of building road and race cars could be found, from concours 930 Turbos to the latest offerings from the GT Department in Weissach and immaculate transaxles to highly bespoke outlaw builds. With young children a regular (and welcome) sight across the venue, the panicked holler of “Don’t touch!” was almost as familiar a sound as the chatter of a flat-six.
But perhaps the focal point of the day was the Club championships, with two rounds fiercely contested around the characterful and challenging Indy circuit. The combined Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli and Porsche Classic Boxster Cup fields saw Simon Clark extend his title lead with two outright wins in the former, while Richard Forber mirrored this feat in the latter. Once again, the racing was committed but fair, with the crowds enjoying every minute.
Also taking to the track for high-speed demonstration runs were examples of every 911 Cup car, bookended by the original 964 and latest 992 generation racers. This last example was later let loose around the circuit in tandem with the 718 Cayman GT4 Sports Cup, displaying the next two tiers of customer racing into which the Club’s own championship feeds.
Another major on-track highlight of the Festival was a demonstration drive of the 917/10 and works 956 driven in period by Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof. The car, now owned by Chris Crawford, was driven by the Club’s special guest Jochen Mass, who himself enjoyed so much success with the Rothman’s team in the early 1980s. Mass proved to be a huge draw for members, sharing lengthy and often unrepeatable anecdotes before signing hundreds of posters and even the occasional car. Having flown in from Europe especially for the day, Mass’s reunion with the 956 almost failed to materialise following problems with the car’s battery, but the garrulous German eventually made his way onto the circuit in searing heat and quickly found some rhythm over a series of increasingly quick laps.
“It’s about 35 years since I last raced the 956 here,” Mass said, “but, the funny thing is, you get into this car and it feels like home; the years just disappear. You sit there and you feel good. It takes a while to get into the groove of the circuit but, once you find all that again, it’s a pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed being with the Club today. It’s a wonderful feeling being at Brands Hatch on a sunny Sunday. All that was missing was a glass of wine at lunchtime followed by a little sleep!”
Indeed, Mass was singing for his supper until the shadows began to lengthen around Brands, conducting interviews, signing more autographs and shooting the breeze with a steady stream of fans. With the car parks beginning to empty, the final parade lap saw some 400 members’ cars take to the circuit in what is now a traditional send-off for the Festival of Porsche and a fitting way to remember 60 years of Club activity on both road and track.
“I came to watch Porsche race in the 1000km here at Brands in 1984, 1985 and 1986, so it’s quite a special feeling for me to be back here today, seeing Jochen in the 956,” said Richard Baldelli, General Manager of Porsche Club Great Britain. “But it’s been a fantastic event all round, made possible as always by the hard work of the Club team and all our volunteers. It’s been a tough 18 months for everyone, but this has been a fantastic way to come back together, to celebrate the cars we all love and to make our 60th anniversary year a truly memorable one.”
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