The StopTech-sponsored Cayman Interseries made its inaugural Rennsport Reunion appearance last weekend with its largest field ever and a full schedule of on-track action and off-track promotions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Friday’s practice was dominated by championship-winning pro driver and Porsche stalwart David Donohue, driving the No. 6 Cayman S themed after the mighty Sunoco/Penske Porsche 917-30 driven by his father Mark Donohue. The day’s official fastest lap, however, went to Cayman Interseries regular Mark Sandridge. Driving his white and red-and-yellow striped No. 49 Cayman S, which is modeled after his 1994 IMSA Champion Team Salad Porsche 911 RSR. Sandridge clocked a 1:39.915 in the second and final session of the day Friday afternoon.
“The field is very close, so if I happened to nick off a good lap it can’t be much quicker than one of the other guys, who are real close to me anyways,” Sandridge said. “It’s just fun being here, I am glad the car feels good, and we are getting a little better effort here than the last race in Atlanta. I got it dialed in, my teammate Joe Varde helped me get it dialed in, and it just feels good.”
Second quickest Friday was debuting driver Jack Kachadurian who was piloting a red and white No. 14 Cayman S that pays tribute to a Richard Lloyd Racing Canon Porsche 956.
“Rennsport Edition” Cayman S
The car that made the biggest impact during the weekend though, was a star even before it hit the track. At a VIP unveiling on Friday morning, series founders Porsche Napleton of Westmont debuted a special “Rennsport Edition” Cayman S that was built specifically to commemorate the event.
The car was formally unveiled in the Cayman Interseries paddock area by Detlev von Platen, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Gill Campbell, CEO and General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Ed Napleton, President of the Napleton Auto Group, Ron Barnaba, Napleton Porsche of Westmont General Manager, Porsche racing legend Hurley Haywood and David Donohue, a Rolex 24 at Daytona winning Porsche driver.
The one-off “Rennsport Edition” design pays tribute to Porsche’s famous race cars and drivers and the equally iconic circuits on which they raced and won. The entire top of the Rennsport Edition Cayman S features “ghost” images of legendary race tracks from around the world, the stripe on the hood has a list of Porsche factory drivers and other notables from over the years while the roof stripe has a list of all of the factory race cars ever produced. The commemorative No. 4 Cayman was driven throughout Rennsport weekend by Jack Baldwin, the man who makes the cars in the series competitive.
Throughout the weekend, legendary Porsche drivers in attendance (like Hurley Haywood and Justin Bell at right) were autographing the “Rennsport Edition” Cayman S, adding even more history to the rolling showcase of Porsche’s competition legacy. The positive impact of the colorful car will be felt even after Rennsport Reunion IV ends as Napleton Porsche will sell the car to highest bidder in the coming weeks, with a significant portion of the proceeds being donated to the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF).
The drivers were racing in support of the CTF during the weekend and even hosted several young neurofibromatosis (NF) patients and their families at the track on Saturday, in cooperation with Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Rennsport Reunion IV Concours
In other off-track happenings, the Cayman Interseries was also invited to compete as its own class in the Rennsport Reunion IV Concours competition.
A total of six Caymans were awarded medals of excellence, with the No. 4 “Rennsport Edition” Cayman S earning a perfect-score for class best-of-show honors. The winning Cayman features a commemorative livery designed and created by Dave Schnorr that pays tribute to Porsche’s great racing legacy.
Other competitors earning Cayman Interseries Concours medals were Wayne Nykyforchyn (No. 11 Marlboro/Joest Racing Porsche 956), Lori Cassling (No. 23 “Pink Pig” Porsche 917/20), John Martino (No. 7 Newman/Joest Racing Porsche 962), David Gronke (No. 8 Blaupunkt/Joest Racing Porsche 962) and Jack Kachadurian (No. 14 Canon/Richard Lloyd Racing Porsche 956).
The Concours was just another spectacular part of the Rennsport Reunion experience that left all in the Cayman Interseries paddock impressed.
“I really didn’t know what to expect because I had never been to a Rennsport before,” said reigning Cayman Interseries Champion Lee Davis. “Just looking at all of these amazing cars around here, I don’t know if there’s been a dollar figure put on the amount of great cars here, but it is great to see so many Caymans here. It’s fantastic, a lot of good cars and good drivers here.”
Cayman Interseries Sprint Race
In Sunday morning’s sprint race, Lee Davis drove straight from the pole to victory, but the flag-to-flag win was far from easy.
Davis led into Turn 1 at the race start in his black and red No. 33 Cayman S that carries the colors of the Advan Porsche 956s and 962s and Luna-C Clothing, but immediately felt what was going to be race-long pressure from debuting driver Jack Kachadurian. Driving a No. 14 Cayman S in the theme of a Richard Lloyd Racing Canon Porsche 956, Kachadurian jumped from third to second at the race start and kept the heat on Davis for the majority of the race.
“It feels awesome, it really does feel awesome,” Davis said. “It was one of the longest sprint races for a little bitty short race that I have ever been in. Jack was right in my mirrors for most of the time, and he got into me a little bit going down into the Corkscrew, I just corrected and kept going, and fortunately it was a light hit. I gapped him a little bit but then the track was coated with oil later in the race. I am glad everybody made it through that with no major damage.”
Davis crossed the finish line just ahead of Kachadurian while Mark Sandridge, driving his white and red-and-yellow striped No. 49 Cayman S that is modeled after his 1994 IMSA Champion Team Salad Porsche 911 RSR, prevailed in a great battle with Henry Davis to take the final podium spot. No relation to Lee Davis, Henry Davis finished fourth in his No. 21 Cayman S that carries the memorable markings of the silver Martini Porsche 917s. Bob Schneider completed the top five in his No. 40 Cayman S that pays tribute to the Martini “Baby” Porsche 935.
In Sportsman class action, Will Conniff led early on and again when it counted to score the victory in a yellow No. 55 Cayman S that is themed after a David Piper Racing/Sandeman Porsche 917K. Connif waged a great mid-race battle with Mike Cassling, who drives a blue and yellow Cayman S in the colors of a Hydro Aluminum/Brun Porsche 962, and scored the win when Cassling spun off course in the oil that coated the track in the final laps of the race.
“It’s great to be back, I miss it badly,” said Conniff, a series regular the past two seasons. “Personal reasons are why I am not out here more because I love the guys and I love the format. Really, it’s just getting back in the car. When you are out of that car you just really lose a lot of your feel and momentum. I felt good about coming back after being away for almost a year and it was a blast.”
Conniff didn’t even know he was passing for the victory when he saw Cassling’s stranded car off course in the downhill run out of the Corkscrew.
“I had no clue,” Conniff said. “I was just focused on what I needed to do, stay on the track and try not to do anything stupid.”
David Gronke finished second after a strong run in his white and blue No. 8 Blaupunkt/Joest Racing Porsche 962-themed Cayman S. Randy Cassling, at the wheel of his black, yellow and red No. 18 Cayman S that pays tribute to the Le Mans winning factory Shell/Dunlop Porsche 962, finished third to salvage a podium finish for the Cassling family after his brother spun out of the lead.
Cayman Interseries Enduro Race
In Sunday afternoon’s main event, Mark Sandridge took control when race leader Lee Davis fell victim to lapped traffic to score a strong victory in the final race of the doubleheader.
Sandridge was running second to Davis at the halfway point of the 45-minute race when opportunity knocked.
“It’s pretty rewarding,” Sandridge said. “Yesterday I was pretty down after qualifying when I ran fourth, so I went home, we studied the films, and I think we just worked as hard as anybody did, although you have to give Lee credit, he had the field covered. He would have won the thing hands up, and I would have been happy with second quite frankly. You just had to be patient and that’s probably why I was a little slower, I was probably a little more patient than most people.”
Davis led from the drop of the green flag and was maintaining a comfortable lead over Sandridge when a lapped backmarker forced him off the track and into the wall. Davis was uninjured but his No. 33 Cayman S suffered significant left-side damage.
“You never have it won until the checkered flag falls and you come across it first,” Davis said. “It’s really disappointing, and I just have to chalk it up to one of those racing things, I guess, and be proud of what I did up to that point. I had a pretty good lead up until then, won the sprint race this morning, and now I am looking forward to Daytona.”
Henry Davis – no relation to Lee Davis – finished second to cap a strong weekend in his CARS-prepared No. 21 Cayman S that wears the classic paint scheme of the silver Martini Porsche 917s. Davis was delighted with both the podium finish and the Rennsport event itself.
“The guys at Napleton did a fabulous job,” Davis said. “What a great series they created, and I want to thank Ron Barnaba and everybody. Great event, great weather and a great track. The organization they have out here at Laguna Seca is fantastic. Nobody else has it together like these guys do, everything just runs perfectly.”
Jim Bacus, making his first race start of the year in his purple and green Cayman S modeled after the famous Martini “Hippy” Porsche 917LH, drove a smart race to finish in third place.
In the Sportsman class, Will Conniff went two-for-two Sunday when he won the 45-minute finale after also taking the morning sprint in a yellow No. 55 Cayman S themed after a David Piper Racing/Sandeman Porsche 917K.
“Top weekend,” Conniff said. “I got in this for the social aspect, but racing with Napleton, I run with a great group of guys. This was a rental this weekend but it was smoking, as good as it gets. I have to thank the crew, everyone here, and it was a perfect weekend for me.”
Conniff shared the afternoon podium with second-place finisher Tony Sitko, who drives his red No. 70 Cayman S that is a replica of the Le Mans class-winning Dick Barbour Racing Porsche 935. Randy Cassling also doubled up on podium showings and finished third for the second time Sunday in his black, yellow and red No. 18 Cayman S that pays tribute to the Le Mans winning factory Shell/Dunlop Porsche 962.
Conniff, who improved his lap times by nearly 10 seconds from Friday practice, was awarded the JRZ Suspension Engineering “Fine Tuning Award” as the competitor showing the most progress by improving car setup, on-track performance and lap times.
Lee Davis was awarded the inaugural Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) “Porsche Spirit” award as the competitor that best exemplified, on and off the track, the outstanding attributes of Porsche competition excellence and sportsmanship throughout Rennsport Reunion weekend.
Among the record number of Cayman Interseries competitors racing at Rennsport Reunion this weekend was Ed Napleton, President of the Napleton Auto Group, the parent organization of Cayman Interseries organizers and owners Napleton Porsche of Westmont in Chicago. “I haven’t seen any of the other events, but all I can tell you is that I was very impressed with this,” Napleton said. “Everything here was outstanding. I think all of the people are high caliber, a nice group and they kind of mesh well together. When you put an event on like this and have a high level of the participants enjoy themselves, it is a tribute to what Ron (Barnaba) and his staff have done to make it click. It is done with our approval as a company, but the actual events take so much work. It’s Ron’s passion and I am glad to see that we were able to satisfy all of these people and make a really nice happening out here. It is like Woodstock for adults.”
Next up for the Cayman Interseries is the season-ending Daytona Continental Historic Races at Daytona International Speedway, November 9 – 13.
About Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV: Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV is the world’s greatest gathering of Porsche race cars and the drivers that drove them to victory, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from October 14 to 16, 2011. Hosted by Porsche Cars North America, it will assemble the wide variety of Porsche’s most historic racing models from the nimble 550 Spyder of the mid-1950s through the mighty 917 and 956/962 of the 1970s and 1980s to the highly successful RS Spyder of the last decade.
About Porsche Cars North America: Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga. is the exclusive U.S. importer of Porsche sports cars, the Cayenne SUV and Panamera Gran Turismo. Established in 1984, it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and employs approximately 220 people who provide parts, service, marketing and training for 196 dealers. They, in turn, work to provide Porsche customers a best-in-class experience that is in keeping with the brand’s 63-year history and leadership in the advancement of vehicle performance, safety and efficiency. At the core of this success is Porsche’s proud racing heritage that boasts some 30,000 motorsport wins to date.
About The Cayman Interseries: Established in 2009 by Napleton Porsche of Westmont, Illinois, the Cayman Interseries is North America’s only auto racing championship featuring the exclusive use of the 320-horsepower Porsche Cayman S. Sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR), the Cayman Interseries conducted its first official season in 2010 and crowned a pair of champion drivers in both the sprint and endurance racing formats. Races are run on legendary circuits such as Daytona, Sebring, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and other premier venues, primarily on HSR and SVRA event weekends. Every competing Porsche Cayman S is exclusively supplied and prepared by Napleton Porsche and each car competes with an assigned and specific heritage livery themed after a famous Porsche race car from the past. Learn more about the Cayman Interseries at www.CaymanInterseries.org. Phone calls direct to Napleton Porsche may be made at (630) 725-0911 and email inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.