Blinded by the Light

HOW IRONIC I FOUND THIS Manfred Mann lyric when I thought of looking in my 911 rearview mirror and seeing a Porsche racecar pull off the road and turn away.

A myriad of emotions raced into my head at Porsche AG cancelling IMSA participation for 2021.

Heartbroken, gut-wrenching, appalled, shocked, head-shaking. I raced online to look for confirmation, thinking April 1 was back. How dare they rob me of my childhood and teenage dreams and memories?! But it was everywhere. Even the current race drivers were in shock. This must have come out of left field for them as well.

I know my tent and camping chair were even rattled at the news.

Here’s a company many of us were drawn to, not only for the iconic hood badge, but also the related cars and places. Where were you when you heard or saw the numerous wins at Rally Monte Carlo, Targa Florio, Le Mans, Mosport, 24 Hours of Daytona? The 1962 French Grand Prix, Porsche’s first Formula 1 win with Dan Gurney at the wheel of the 804. The 718, the 912 rally car, the 917, the 935, the Carrera RSR, the Penske RS Spyder. I could go on and on. Posters adorning bedroom and garage walls. Iconic sponsors and teams. Gulf, Martini, Rothmans, Lowenbrau, Purolator and teams from Brumos, Flying Lizards, Wollock, Penske, etc.

And, oh my, those driver names just flooded back to me — Jackie Ickx, Jochen Mass, Bob Wollock, Walter Rohrl, Manfred Winkelhock, Helmut Marko, Hurley Haywood, Alan McNish and Nick Tandy.

And if you aren’t enticed by this type of history, perhaps the affiliation the brand gives you with celebs driving and owning them may hit home. Most of them bought and drove them because of the racing image. Some actually raced them too — McQueen, Dean, Dempsey, Leno, Seinfeld, Gates, Schwarzenegger, Statham, etc.

How many of them will jump ship to Ferrari, BMW, Lamborghini, or even (cringe) a new ‘Vette.

Bye, bye, bye! There’s another lyric. Thanks, NSYNC!

Of course, they tease with possibilities of moving up a class in IMSA with an LMPh (Le Mans Prototype Hybrid), but that would need development photos and prototypes to convince me. I know they may run them at Le Mans and the new WEC-IMSA agreement allows the same car to run there and across the pond now. But how many big teams want a partner that may bail without notice?

Hmmm, I guess electric development costs are high. Especially to race in Formula E. Is the sound off on my TV?

But it’s clear that it’s all about saving a buck. Letting the accountants run the company.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the sales grow because of racing? At least to begin with. The North American market is not a volume market for most car companies, but it is prestigious. The new target of China and other emerging Asian markets is too tempting. Nowadays you have to wave past the rush to the boulevardiers and SUVs on showroom floors.

Perhaps cutting model trim levels and even some models (one starts with Panamera hint, hint) would be a good start before slashing away at racing budgets. Reviewing participation in various shows, sales training online, stop producing magazines and brochures and switch to electronic versions instead. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch and bent the readers’ ears for long enough.

Please, Porsche. Give me back my memories. At my age it’s all I can remember. </>

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