MMR Blog

Chassis No. *11810429* (type 911L) “0429”

Posted on April 27, 2011 Comments (0)

In the late Fall of 1967, the well known East Coast Porsche Racer, Herbert (Herb) Wetanson of Hewellet Bay, New York placed an order for this Porsche directly through the Teaneck, New Jersey, Porsche North America Distributorship. Wetanson specifically wanted a fully race prepared FIA GT class, 2.0-liter racecar with which to enter and race at the upcoming opening Season race at Daytona.

Chassis No. *11810429* (type 911L) “0429”

Wetanson was well known in the Porsche racing community and as such was able to get financial support from the fledgling Porsche America Race Team which in fact had both direct support from POAC and the Porsche Factory. He was given additional sponsorship from Goodyear Tire, Ferodo, STP, Bosch, Quaker State and several other Motor Sport related companies that would assist him in the upcoming Season.

Wetanson’s order was processed via POAC and handled by the Porsche Factory in a very special way. This was in fact one of the unique and now nearly legendary “Sonderwunsche” or “Special Wish” vehicles and identified clearly as such on the original Porsche “KARDEX” notation section. The Porsche race department under Special Project code “064” handled the assembly and completion of this car.

Wetanson was well aware that only the 911L and not the 911R had been granted homologation status for FIA international racing and specifically requested a “light-racing coupe with highest performance engine.”

Wetanson’s Porsche 911L would on the face of it seem a bit of an oddity. For the 1968 production year there were just two 911 models available for clients in the States, The base model 911 and the 911L. For the US market, the “L” was essentially the Rest of the World marketed 911S but with standard non-vented disc brakes. The loop-hole rule that allowed the “European” version of the 911L to run FIA International races in Group 2 was the main reason Wetson’s car was ordered and built the way it was.

In a day and age of easy, instant information we are far better able look back nearly 45 years ago to understand just how incredibly important and rare such a Porsche GT racecar was. For comparison, the legendary 911R was built along very similar lines with many shared components. The main difference being the extreme light-weight approach to the 911R. The downside however being that the “R” was never homologated and therefore forced to always run in the Prototype Class when racing. The 1967 911T/R and 1968 911L FIA GR2 and 1969 911S models therefore became the mainstay in FIA endurance racing well into the 1973 Season when 911s of 2.2.-2.4, 2.5, 2.7 and 2.8 liters began to take over the “GT” class in international racing.

Over the Winter of 1967/1968, Wetanson’s car was assembled in the Porsche Factory Race Department. It was finally completed on February 9th, 1968 and after testing and sorting, delivered to Wetanson in the States. ( more)

Tags: Porsche

What Price Laughter?

Posted on April 26, 2011 Comments (0)

Ste. Justine II

“It is the first time in long time that I have seen him smile.” said the sad looking man. There was no mistaking the relief on his face and in his voice as we looked down at his 13 year old son, Danick, sitting happily in the black Ferrari.

Ste. Justine

Ignoring the clumsy tubes connected to his right arm or the drip bags above his head, he stared intently through the windshield, one hand on the wheel and the other stirring the shift knob with determination.

We had returned to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 1997 and to the children’s hospital, Ste. Justine, where we had visited with our cars one year before. This time we were parked on the front lawn and only children from the cancer ward were brought out to us.

The story of our previous visit had gotten around the Ferrari community and now we had the full quota of six Ferraris that space would allow.

The father went on to say that his son had never stopped talking about how comfortable he felt in the 308. As though this was the Ferrari meant for him. I asked him if Danick had been here since our last visit and was told that no he had been home but now, sadly, he was back. I learned from my contact, Robert, that Danick’s prognosis was not good.

Ste. Justine

Borrowing a roll of white 1” medical tape, I asked Danick to move to the passenger seat and then disengaging the drip rack pole from its four legged base, I taped it between the seats and to the back of the Targa top on the 308. As I started the car and moved toward the access to the street, our intent became very clear to the staff. They rushed to inform us that hospital rules and insurance restrictions forbade what we wanted to do. We kept rolling until we hit the four lane street. We accelerated through first and second gear and squealed the tires around the corner. It was a very long block and on the long street behind the hospital we again accelerated. We were probably doing a very noisy 50 MPH when Danick touched my arm. Fearing something may be wrong, I immediately lifted and looked over. He was pointing at the drip bags that were now “flying” from their perch and parallel to the ground. Danick was laughing.

The Real Power of Ferrari

Posted on April 25, 2011 Comments (0)

Ste. Justine I

Ferrari is the ‘complete’ package—power, sound and a look that says you have arrived even before you have left. This is the mystique of Ferrari. Even those who don’t understand cars are somehow captivated by its presence, especially young children.

Ste. Justine

In 1996, at the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, in exchange for a favor from the City of Montreal, an arrangement was made for a group of Ferraris to make a brief appearance at Ste. Justine’s, a children’s hospital which primarily serves the French population in the City.

We were staying outside of town, and we were meant to be at the hospital at 10:00 AM on the Friday before the Grand Prix race. Our mission was explained at dinner on Thursday evening, and, out of a possible 26 cars, we had 10 volunteers. On a gray and drizzling Friday morning, we had four, a black 308, a red Mondial, a yellow Testa Rossa and a red F-40.

We arrived 15 minutes late and were instructed to drive around the block and come into the hospital courtyard through the supply entrance. It was drizzling when we turned into the paved courtyard, an enclosed square space surrounded by the hospital on two sides and high brick walls. Imagine the noise four Ferraris made in that enclosure and then imagine our surprise when we rolled into this space to the cheering sounds of scores of children sitting up in beds lined against all four walls. Windows were open in the hospital and children were hanging out of every one and cheering our arrival. Our contact, the hospital’s public relations lady, greeted us and advised us that the children had been waiting for half an hour. When it began to rain, the children refused to be moved, so the staff covered their rolling beds with blankets and clear sheets of plastic. During the next 90 minutes, we raced our engines and let each child capable of doing so sit in each car and honk its horn. Each child was given a Ferrari pin and a Ferrari decal.

We were told later that those children never stopped talking about the Ferrari visit. And four grown men discovered a dimension of Ferrari power they would never have dreamed existed. Pity anyone who missed the opportunity.

Because I like Black Ferraris

Posted on April 8, 2011 Comments (0)

In 1996 as part of my negotiations to bring Ferrari owners and their vehicles to the Canadian GP in Montreal, I met with the Vice-Mayor, an ardent Ferraristi, at his office. Strictly by happenstance, there was a parking space right in front of City Hall. At the conclusion of our meeting, knowing I once lived in Montreal, he led me through an adjoining room to a balcony overlooking Place Jacques-Cartier. He asked me if I realized where I was standing and, not wanting to spoil his pleasure, I said no. He walked to the edge of the balcony and put his hands on the rail, turned and said to me, “This is where Charles de Gaulle stood during his official visit of 1967. He turned to the large crowd below, looked out and said… Hey! Is that your Ferrari!? How come it’s not red?”

Golf in a Rolls

Posted on April 5, 2011 Comments (0)
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow

I was once invited by a friend for a round of golf at his club. As we waited on the first tee he informed me that we would be joined by a quiet gentleman I had once met, and by a business associate. The latter came late. As we waited at the first tee, a white Rolls Silver Shadow approached and our “fourth” rolled down the window to say he would join us presently.

Throughout the round all this man wanted to talk about was his car. The Silver Shadow was Rolls Royce’s first attempt at a drive yourself executive car and it was very attractive. Our third member rode with me and hardly said a word. By the end of the round we were all quite fed up with the saga of the new Rolls Royce.

As we were loading our clubs into our host car, the new Rolls owner suggested that since our friend’s hotel was on his way he would happily drop him off. Clubs were transferred and as they were getting into the car I heard the owner say “Betcha never been in a Rolls before?” to which came the reply, “Never in the front, no”. I was later informed that it was a quiet drive to the hotel.