Foto Finish

Best Seat in the House 1
Best Seat in the House 2
Best Seat in the House 3
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Best Seat in the House 7

That’s just what they do, their 935s slicing through the field and passing RSRs as if they’ve got roughly double the power. Which they do. They’re chasing the black 1979 935 of fast Australian Rusty French, but they won’t catch him this day.

I latch onto a longhood RSR with Peter Gregg bodywork and Vice­roy livery. It’s running a bit faster than I have thus far, but it’s a pace I can match on the way up to the Corkscrew and back down the hill. Up the front straight, I follow it over the blind crest at over 100 mph. I discover a problem over the rise: Its driver lifted! It’s a full-pucker moment, a balance between braking too little (and rear-ending him) and braking too much (and losing the rear end). For­tunately, the RSR makes the job easier than it looks, and I follow the Vice­roy 911 for another lap. I can tell I’m faster — but not enough so to risk a pass on the hill.

When we round Turn 11, I’m ready and hear the sound unlike any other: two cars at wide-open throttle. With the blare of two RSRs reflected off the pit wall, Foto­Quelle is just pulling Vice­roy as we head up the hill. Then, sure enough, he lifts. His longhood disappears from my peripheral vision, only to reappear in my rearview. It stays there for two corners, then fades from view.

Haywood passes me at one point only to dive into the pits two turns later, the victim of a broken fiberglass seat. 7B is a race of attrition considering its brevity, with another 935 dead at pit-out and four cars failing to finish. At the sharp end, the black and white 935s of French and Canepa leave the red Monza of Chad Raynal in third. But, in my book, the best drive is the one authored by Mark Hotchkis in his RSR-ish 1973 911. With no turbocharger, he’ll finish seventh overall, ahead of several 935s and Bowtie brawlers, nine spots in front of the next normally-aspirated 911.

If 9060 leaves a dominant impression, it’s that turbocharged RSRs — the 934 and 935 — were the inevitable evolutions, so thoroughly had Porsche licked the 911’s handling by 1974. It’s something Edwards agrees with, and something that prompts us to lay some plans…

As the crowds head for Highway 68, there’s plenty to take down and even more to load up. But first, nature calls. On my way back, I spot Chuck Forge loading a famous 356 onto a rusty open trailer, in stark contrast to the massive, ex-Indycar transporters littered across the paddock.

Small, red, and achingly straight, 356/2-063 is beautifully prepared, and rightly so. Southern California’s John von Neumann had the top chopped off this Gmünd coupe in 1952 to reduce weight and frontal area, making it the car to beat in Under 1500-cc competition. Forge bought 063 in 1957, drove it on the street for ten years, and then parked it. In 1980, Forge’s first trip to the Mon­terey Historics inspired him to restore 063 in time for 1982’s big weekend. He’s been a fixture at Earle’s circus ever since.

It’s another Porsche I’ve known from a distance for a long time. When I ask Forge if he’d show his car to me, a smile stretches across his 74-year-old face. He tells me to hop in, and I can’t believe how simple the door is…how simple everything is. As he takes me through 063, noting what makes it hard to drive as well as what he loves about it, I sense the time he’s spending with me is time he’d spend with anyone willing to listen. However, it is time made more special by a bond I’ve never known here: the one between two drivers in the paddock at the end of a race weekend.

I’ve got to get back to our trailer, so we part ways with an agreement to meet for lunch sometime in the fall. It’s a sometime that would never come, because Forge died in his sleep just thirteen days later. Look­ing back nearly a year later, at all that happened at my first Historics behind the wheel, I’m grateful for those minutes with Forge and his 356 in the last light of the last day — because the man and machine were the embodiment of all that Earle intended.

Also from Issue 186

  • First Drive in 2010 GT2 RS
  • Rare one-off 1953 Phoenix-Porsche
  • Two Great Porsches of the 1980s Face Off
  • How the 911 won Le Mans in 2010
  • Real 1973 RS 2.7, Hot-rodded
  • Sebring Winner Kees Nierop
  • 911 Turbo Buyers Guide
  • Early 911: Affordable Fun
  • 2011 Panamera V6 Driven
  • The Cashmere Cliff Part 3 (911 SC)
  • Porsche's Latest Parts Emporium
  • Porsche Batteries and Electrical Systems
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