A blur of purple with swooping green curves. A flash of Gulf Blue, fringed with orange. Wait! Is that Salzburg Red? If you squint hard enough, you’d swear those are the curves of 917s, it’s June 1970, and you’re at Le Mans. But covering your ears is necessary to maintain the illusion, because those sure aren’t 4.5- and 4.9-liter flat twelves wailing by. They’re 3.4-liter flat sixes, the curves belong to 987s, the date is October 2009, and you’re in Savannah, Georgia.
Running in conjunction with HSR this weekend, the Cayman Interseries is in the midst of its second event, ramping up for a full-season of racing in 2010. HSR? Doesn’t that stand for Historic Sportscar Racing? Well…yeah. And isn’t a Cayman among the current Porsche lineup, not to mention, a car Porsche AG doesn’t race? Well…yeah.
“They’re obviously not historic Porsche race cars,” admits competitor Neil Gehani readily. “But they do embrace Porsche’s deep racing history.” After all, every Cayman eligible to compete in the series sports a historic Porsche racing livery: Hippie Car, Gulf-Wyer, Rothmans, Hawaiian Tropic, Löwenbräu… While they might not fully adhere to the spirit of HSR, watching the cars circulate the 2.6-mile Hutchinson Island track, it’s hard to deny that the idea is a pretty cool one.
The series is the brainchild of Ron Barnaba, General Manager of Napleton Porsche in Chicago. Barnaba cut his teeth with his own Porsche race shop before moving to Brumos Porsche for nearly a decade, so he was immersed in all levels of Porsche motorsport from the beginning. When he moved to Napleton seven years ago, he brought that dedication to racing with him. Soon, he put one-day and two-day driver education programs into place for Napleton customers. In 2008, he started a Masters Program, an extended school for graduates of the one- and two-day programs.
“You spend a lot of time in the classroom and a lot of time driving on the track with pro drivers,” comments Gehani. “It’s then that you really start understanding the physics behind driving cars.” For these events, Barnaba utilized Autobahn Country Club near Chicago. He cast a wider gaze, as well — offering Masters graduates an opportunity to learn at some of the country’s best tracks: Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Road America…
For several years, Barnaba had considered a cost-conscious, single-model, amateur racing series. Then one car in the 2009 Porsche model lineup crystallized his thought process. “With the updates to the Cayman S, I knew we had the car to build a series.”
Oiling issues, power-steering issues, and ABS issues were all addressed in the Cayman’s first significant update. As Barnaba points out, “The new engine has five separate oil pumps, the power-steering pump is cooled differently and has rerouted lines, and there’s a new Siemans ABS system. Those were the three biggest problems people were complaining about, and Porsche fixed them all.” Barnaba placed a call to longtime friend and HSR competition director Ken Fengler, 21 Cayman Ss were ordered, and the Cayman Interseries was born.