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Oktobertfest Comes Early: Postcards from Luftgekühlt

The Spoils and Beauty of the German Marque Come to Indianapolis

 

By John Oreovicz

 

INDIANAPOLIS – Confession: I’m a lifelong Porsche enthusiast. Before I started writing about racing, I worked in the late 1980s for an Indianapolis-based mail-order catalog called PB Tweeks that specialized in restoration parts for Porsches.

 

I was therefore pretty excited that Indianapolis had a distinctly Germanic feel over weekend of Sept. 10-12, thanks to Porsche and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitor Patrick Long. Almost like an early Oktoberfest.

 

Porsche hosted the first-ever SportsCar Together Fest at Indianapolis Motor Speedway over three days, with the celebration of the German marque kick-started and highlighted on the first day by Luftgekühlt 7 – a showcase of historical air-cooled Porsches built up to the 993 generation of the Porsche 911 that ceased production in 1998.

 

Luftgekühlt – the creation of Long and designer Howie Idelson that redefined the concept of an automotive art show – until this year had only been staged at landmark locations around greater Los Angeles, including the Universal Studios backlot. It made a natural partner for the Together Fest, a family-oriented event that featured ride-along activities and three days of on-track action on the IMS road course including the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands.

 

You can get background about Luftgekühlt here. With six years of history in California, could Indy’s recently restored and repurposed Bottleworks District measure up?

 

Without being too much of an Indianapolis homer, I wholeheartedly exclaim, “Jawohl!” (The German word for yes). Long, his creative partners and Porsche combined to stage an incredible weekend for car enthusiasts, just minutes from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

As an added bonus bright and early on Saturday morning, prior to the Mobil 1 Air-Cooled Caravan from Bottleworks to IMS, who should I run into but PB Tweeks founder Dr. Brett Johnson. He and his wife were ready for the journey in his immaculate 356A coupe.

 

It’s a small world. Here are some highlights from a memorable weekend, captured in photos:

 

IMSA star Patrick Long and his partners started Luftgekühlt as a small gathering for air-cooled Porsche enthusiasts, and it has grown into one of the most unique auto shows in the world.

 

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“Luft” has always attempted to showcase air-cooled Porsches in an artful setting. As the event grew, private collectors and the Porsche factory exhibited landmark cars. The event was staged in southern California for the first six editions.

 

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A one-time occasion to see streets normally populated with everyday cars and SUVs lined with a variety of classic Porsches. The Bottleworks District in Indianapolis was recently renovated from a shuttered Coca-Cola bottling plant to great acclaim, and the venue was complimented by many out-of-town visitors.

 

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Turn around a corner, who knows what you might find down an alley …

 

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… or inside a warehouse.

 

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You don’t often see a Porsche 908LH in downtown Indianapolis, or anywhere else for that matter.

 

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Peter Gregg and Brumos Racing were famous for white No. 59 Porsches. This 1968 911S that Gregg drove in the Rolex 24 At Daytona preceded all that.

 

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Another priceless Porsche – Type 904 in front of the restored Jungclaus Mill.

 

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Where it all started for the Porsche marque in the late 1940s.

 

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Not all cars on display at Luftgekühlt are pristine. Authenticity counts, whether in a barn find road car or a vintage racer.

 

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Musician John Oates of the famous band Hall and Oates was the unofficial grand marshal of Luftgekühlt 7. He led the Mobil 1 Air-Cooled Caravan in his custom 914-6.

 

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Saturday morning, 6:30 a.m., as Porsches line up for the Mobil 1 Air-Cooled Caravan. The sand-cast grille badges presented to the 100 participants are a prized commodity.

 

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Queuing up for the caravan.

 

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A pretty Porsche traffic jam in Indianapolis, early Saturday morning.

 

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An artist created live paint and chalk art.

 

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Attendees could take off-road rides in a Porsche Macan …

 

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… or ride an autocross course in a 718 Cayman.

 

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Many club racing Porsches were on hand at IMS, including this Grateful Dead tribute with exactly the right number to commemorate the band’s best year.

 

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Porsche Zentrum featured a group of classics restored in a contest among Porsche dealers around the country, along with plenty of merchandise.

 

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Time to go racing! A grid walk prior to the Porsche Carrera Cup North America race.

 

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