It all began with a "what if?" and ended in a unique event that was fun and also benefited a deserving charity.
"What if we got a bunch of cool people together to enjoy a presentation of "Le Mans"?" asked Rob Mullner, then ad director of european car. Paramount Home Entertainment had just released a DVD edition of the famous racing movie starring Steve McQueen, and to see it in its widescreen format on a big screen seemed like a great idea.
And so "Porsche 911 at the Grove" was born.
Rob called Paramount Home Entertainment to get permission to show the film (you can get it for $16.99 on amazon.com), and to our delight they said, no problem; have a ball. In our search for a large room for the showing, we contacted The Grove in Anaheim, a former sound stage that was converted into a first-class concert hall-and it turned out to be the perfect venue for our needs, complete with a large parking lot for the Porsches expected to show up for a casual car show before the movie started.
Well, Mullner doesn't ever stop asking "what if?", and before we knew it, he was on the line to Porsche Cars North America: "How about joining the party? There's a Porsche or two in the movie, so why not remind people of your amazing racing heritage?" And so we hooked up with Maurits Coppenrath of Tequipment, Porsche's performance parts and accessories division. That's when things got really ambitious. What had started as a casual get-together of racing-movie freaks was starting to look like a serious festival of fun. What if, asked Maurits, we got a few notable 911s together and expanded the event to include a celebration of 40 years of 911 production?
And what if, he asked, we had an auction to benefit a favorite Porsche charity? And so it would be, the proceeds going to Boys Republic, a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian school and treatment community for troubled youngsters. Since its founding in 1907, it has guided more than 23,000 at-risk teenage boys and girls toward productive, fulfilling lives. On its central school and farm in Chino Hills, Calif., and in residential and day treatment centers in other communities, it helps children in desperate need find the resources and skills to begin meaningful lives on their own.
A call to auction action resulted in some very nice items, including a pair of 961wheels that ran at Le Mans; a framed print of Porsche designer Harm Lagaay drawings of the 911 Turbo; selected gear from the "Selection" line of Porsche lifestyle accessories; a stint at Porsche's Driving Experience school; and a Les Bidrawn photo session (which went for $2,000!). Conducting the auction was Porsche guest Antonio Sabato, Jr., who was joined by Antonio, Sr., a former racer who drove the Ferrari in the movie "Grand Prix". Also on hand was noted racer Vic Elford, who experienced many winning moments behind the wheel of a Porsche.
A bonus for the attendees was a seminar and installation of the firm's new ceramic composite brake system. It was installed on european car's long-term 911 C4S, so look for an installation piece and test results in the near future. Of course, all this was a lead-in for the main event, the showing of "Le Mans" on a large screen, with a tremendous sound system pumping out the screams of Porsches, Fords and Ferraris. It was a fitting end to a fun-filled afternoon and sent everyone home excited about this year's european car/Porsche Cars North America festival of fun. Stay tuned.