Saturday, June 2, 2001

Guest Speaker

911 and Porsche World

I am a third generation Californian, I was born and raised in the Santa Clara Valley in California, which you may recognize as our renowned Silicon Valley where we have had our high tech revolution. My first career was in the electronics industry where I was a technical writer. 

I was a regular at the sports car races in the early '50s when there were local tracks at the Fair Grounds, Moffett Field Navel Air Station, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and of course the famed Pebble Beach. My interest on sports cars became focused on Porsches after a ride down Dry Creek Road, which was the only winding road within several miles of my home in 1955 in a friends 1953 Porsche normal coupe. For any of you who have had the opportunity to recently drive a pre-A 356 you may wonder why I was impressed, but that was a long time ago and that was the way it was. Up until then the only sports cars that I had ridden in were MGs and Austin Healys. 
From that first ride in 1955 I have had a love affair with Porsches every since and had an abiding interest in the advancements in Porsche technology. I can remember going to a car show in a local shopping center in 1956 and marveling at a new 356A model with its 15 inch wheels, improved suspension, and curved windshield, this was a truly advanced wonder for its time quite a technical improvement. 

I purchased my first Porsche in 1961, a shiny new ruby red Super Karmann Hardtop, from our local dealer Norm Anderson VW-Porsche in San Jose. Since then I have owned eleven more Porsches and currently own a 356 Speedster and a 944. Among the colossal errors of my life are some of the cars that I have sold including a 1959 GT Speedster and a 1964 SC GT Coupe. 

I joined the Porsche Club of America (PCA) in 1964 and have been active in the club for many year on both a local and National level. I have attended twenty of the annual Porsche Parades.which are a national gatherings of the faithful for fun and competition. I received the top score on the Technical Quiz that is sponsored by Bosch at three of the parades and won my class championship in autocross at the 1973 Porsche Parade in my 914-6. I retired from autocrossing in 1976, after 12 years of competition and several class championships in both PCA and Northern California Sports Car Council events. I like the technical aspects of Porsches and have served the club as the national Technical Chairman for PCA since 1981. 

Seriously competing in concours is a generally accepted way of proving oneself to be slightly bonkers, in case there's room for doubt. I set out to dispel any doubts by showing my 1964 SC GT from 1969 through 1971 winning a lot of shows. My favorite victories were Best of show at a Porsche Club West Coast Weekend Meet and wins at the Pebble Beach Concours and Hillsborough Concours. Since 1971 I have confined my interest in concours to just judging at local shows and the national Porsche Parades. 

In the 1960s a friend and I started a Porsche performance business at his home in his garage. We started by modifying and tweeking our own cars and our friends cars for autocrossing and club competition. This business grew into a full time business in the early 1970s as Garretson Enterprises. We had a great deal of fun with our Porsche business preparing cars for others and racing around the world. I was part owner and General manager of for about ten year before we sold the business and all went our separate ways. 

Our first racing program was for our friends the local Porsche Dealers and the distributor, Porsche Cars Pacific. We ran a 914 for them in the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Next we prepared cars for off road racing and Pikes Peak, where we won in 1976 with Rick Mears driving and Gary Lee Kanawyer in 1981. Over the years we established a winning record with the cars we prepared winning the IMSA GTU, GTX and GTO championship and the Porsche Cup, the FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship and the Porsche Team Cup. The past couple of years we have helped some friends in Show Room Stock racing with their 944s, winning the 1986 Pro-SSGT Escort series. 
I first became acquainted with 911s during the winter of 1966/67 when some friends and I bought a half a dozen engines that were badly damaged, but not lost, in a shipwreck in the Azores. These engines had started out in cars, but when the ship that they were being transported in was rammed by another ship the 911s broke loose in the flooded hold. Please note that I said engines, my first 911 experience was just with the engines. I didn't actually work on one of the cars until about a year later when we installed one of our refurbished engines into a 912 making it into a 911. By the time we had resurrected all of our engines we had all learned quite a bit about the 911 engines and cars. My Porsche education continued with my rebuilding and hot rodding 911 engines, and working on the race team. My education continues today as I help others learn about these great cars with my technical articles and books; by offering instruction in training courses on the Porsches and by giving technical presentations lectures on the 911 engines. 

Because of my love affair with Porsche and because I am racing enthusiast I am really disappointed that Porsche has strayed from their focus on the sports car racing. I feel that it was because they focused on this one form of racing that they did so well. It took Porsche more than three decades to build the reputation that they are allowing to be eroded away by their lack of focus over the past five years. First they strayed away into CART Indy car racing in the United States and more recently they have gone back into Formula 1 racing with Footwork. Both of these efforts were misguided and failures and have certainly done more to tarnish the Porsche image than build it. I am sure that if the same effort had been expended on a more modern sports car that Porsche and their racing customers would still be world contenders in sports car racing rather than the grid fodder that they have become.

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