Shortly after winning an autocross event in the late 1960s, amateur driver Hurley Haywood struck up a friendship with Peter Gregg of Florida’s Brumos Porsche dealership. Gregg, an accomplished competitor who later established Brumos Racing, helped Haywood purchase his first Porsche race car.
“Everything just kind of took off from there,” says Haywood.
He and Gregg won at Watkins Glen International a few months later. During more than four decades behind the wheel, Haywood also won five Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, three 24 Hours of Le Mans and two 12 Hours of Sebring races. In 1977, he became the first driver to win both Daytona and Le Mans in the same year.
“Porsche has been my partner in all of my major wins,” says Haywood, now chief driving instructor for the Porsche Sport Driving School in Birmingham, Ala.
This September 27-30, Haywood returns to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI. Hosted by Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), the four-day celebration gathers legendary Porsche race legends, designers, executives and enthusiasts.
Dave Engelman, PCNA motorsports and brand heritage spokesperson, calls Rennsport “a family reunion.”
“It’s a celebration of Porsche’s rich history in motorsport, showcasing the drivers, engineers and cars that made the brand what it is today,” he says. “It’s an event that only Porsche can do, thanks to a great relationship with the legends, owners and collectors that so willingly share their prized possessions with the public.”
That community atmosphere makes the event an especially memorable one for fans.
“The spectators like it because they can really get close and touch the cars—in some cases, their kids can actually sit in the cars—as they meet the people who drove these vehicles. That atmosphere does not otherwise exist in racing,” Haywood says. “Drivers don’t really get to stand face-to-face with the fans, and fans don’t get to ask questions with no time limit. But that’s what Rennsport produces: unfettered access to the drivers and the cars.”
This year marks the reunion’s third spin through Monterey County, following previous Laguna Seca stops in 2011 and 2015. Events at the track also inspired the original Rennsport idea.
“Rennsport came to be after a wildly successful [Porsche] turn as the featured marque at the 1998 Monterey Historics, which saw record attendance at Laguna Seca,” says Engelman. “The first Rennsport Reunion came together in 2001 in Lime Rock, Conn. It has taken place every three to four years since, moving to the West Coast for 2011. What was once an event that featured mostly historic racing has grown into a four-day happening of all things Porsche.”
Nearly 60,000 owners, collectors and fans attended the 2015 Rennsport on the Monterey Peninsula. Porsche Club of America members alone brought more than 1,300 Porsche models to the show fields, race groups and display lots.
Organizers expect to top those numbers during this year’s festivities, in part because so many Porsche owners and enthusiasts call California home. The track and the wider destination also attract spectators.
“WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has proven to be a great location and partner for our last two Rennsport Reunions. The predictable weather and proximity to cultural centers like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea make Rennsport not just a car weekend, but a great destination for families,” says Engelman. “The historic track is also ideal for the vintage race cars, while providing the room needed to park almost 1,500 Porsche sports cars for track-side display.”
“It’s a super race track,” agrees Haywood, “and it’s not spread out over a huge area. When we do events here, things are condensed into a nucleus that’s easy to navigate, so you can see all the exhibits without having to walk long distances.”
Exhibits and events at this year’s Rennsport will showcase both vintage and recent Porsche race cars, with a special focus on the marque’s competition-winning vehicles from the past 70 years.
“From little-known hill climb wins and the grueling 6,200-mile Paris-Dakar off-road race, to world championships and record wins at all of the major sports car venues like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the punishing Targa Florio in Sicily, Porsche has a diverse and successful history to commemorate,” says Engelman.
As with previous Rennsport gatherings, cars will compete in categories organized by historic racing period. Participants will present a range of Porsche models including early 356 sports cars, the innovative 917, examples of the iconic 911 and 935, and the Le Mans-winning 919 LMP1 Hybrid.
A heritage exhibition in the paddock will also spotlight noteworthy Porsche vehicles on display by special invitation.
“With more than 300 cars competing on the track, 85 plus cars headed for the heritage display gallery, significant historic race cars that will make spirited parade laps each day, and the latest championship-winning, high-tech race cars at speed, the unique weekend is a highly anticipated one,” Engelman says.
Haywood, who turned 70 earlier this year—as Porsche commemorates its own 70th anniversary in 2018—looks forward to celebrating with fellow fans.
“It’s just a gathering of people who love Porsche and love the brand’s history,” he says. “Rennsport gives the fans and the owners of these fabulous race cars that have been collected over many years the chance to gather together as one big family.”
For tickets and details on the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, please visit www.weathertechraceway.com or call 831/242-8200.