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Rennsport Reunion 7 and the sublime Buzzetta Porsche 911
Next month I’ll get back to reviewing cars, but this month I’m taking a break from that in order to discuss the spectacular Porsche Rennsport Reunion 7 (RR7), as well as a 1978 Porsche 911 reimagined by RR7 participant Joe Buzzetta.
RR7, hosted at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, was an awe-inspiring celebration of Porsche's racing history. This incredible four-day event, which took place during the last weekend in September, brought together racing aficionados from all over the world for an experience of unparalleled Porsche splendor.
I’ll try to hold back on the superlatives now, but I’ve never seen so many wonderful old and new racing cars from one manufacturer in one place. And all of those old cars—the very best from Porsche’s past—were driven hard on the track despite their sky-high valuations.
Porsche hosts a Rennsport Reunion every four years or so, and this year’s iteration was especially meaningful because 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the company’s founding as well as the 60th birthday of the 911. It was also the biggest RR ever, with over 300 race cars registered and more than 91,000 attendees.
The heart of Rennsport Reunion 7 was undoubtedly the meticulously restored Porsche racing cars, which ranged from 356s, 550 Spyders, and 911s to Le Mans prototype 917s, 936s, and 956s to current year 911 racers and prototype 963s. And more. I’ve seen many of these very special cars on display in museums and collections around the world, but I’ve never seen them driven at speed on a track.
The roar of flat-four, flat-six, and flat-twelve cylinder engines was intoxicating, as was the scent of hot brakes and burning rubber. The smell of gasoline and un-catalytic-converted exhaust in particular got to me because I grew up in the 1970s, and that’s what I associate with cars from back then. As we move inexorably to an all-electric future, I think those smells are what I’ll miss the most.
RR7 also paid homage to some of Porsche's most celebrated racing drivers, including Hurley Haywood, Derek Bell, Dick Barbour, and many others. These racing icons and other dignitaries, who wandered around freely through the paddock, added depth and authenticity to the event. (Readers may be interested to note that Dick Barbour, who famously finished 2nd in the 1979 running of the LeMans 24hr race with Paul Newman, was a recent guest on my podcast, “Cars on Call”.)
In addition to the racing cars, the event featured a Porsche Corral, where owners proudly showcased their cars. I spent two hours wandering through the Corral and was pleased to see a wide array of colors, including many “paint to sample” (PTS) examples, represented. My personal 2021 911 is a PTS Oslo Blue car, and I saw two other Oslo Blue cars, which made me happy.
One notable participant of Rennsport Reunion 7 was Joe Buzzetta, a well-known Porsche collector and high school friend of mine. Joe’s father, Joe Sr, was a Porsche factory racing driver in the 1960s, and his collection includes many cars that highlight Porsche's racing success from that era. Joe and other members of the Buzzetta family represented their recently deceased father very well with two of his race cars that they drove enthusiastically during the weekend (Joe Buzzetta was also a recent guest on “Cars on Call”).
Porsche restomods headlined by Singer (1990s 911s made to look like beautiful 1960s cars) and Rod Emory (1950s 356s made to look like even cooler 1950s cars) have been emerging as desirable alternatives to restored-to-original Porsches for many years.
Joe Buzzetta is planning to begin producing reimagined mid-1970s/early-1980s Porsche 911s that the general public can buy soon. His most recent creation, which I have driven, is a 1978 911 SC which has been re-done as a 1974 911 RSR homage for the street. It has an all-new engine (in this case a 3.2L air-cooled flat-six), transmission, suspension, interior, and OMG thank you, A/C and normal seats.
It was conceived as an air-cooled 911 that you might take on a long road trip, but with none of the hassles that an original car might cause. I hate old cars with rattles and noises, and the Buzzetta 911 has none of that. It’s an analogue 911 with all of its personality and soul preserved, but with none of the negatives of owning an original older car.
Once Joe’s venture starts making cars, he plans to offer a choice of a road-oriented car like the one I drove (pictured) or an edgier 911 more oriented for the track or shorter more enthusiastic bursts on the street.
I’m a believer and have already started thinking about what kind of second generation 911 donor car would work to turn into a Buzzetta Porsche. It would be a wonderful addition to my garage.
RR7 was an amazing car experience! If you’re a Porsche fan go to the next one, you won’t be disappointed. And hopefully by then reimagined Buzzetta Porsche 911s will be “a thing”.