Rennsport 2018 – Red River Region Roadtrip
by Anna and Peter Fuller
As soon as Rennsport VI was announced, Rick Dobel and Anna Fuller reached out to one another to see if there was interest in repeating the trip (or some variation of that) which a group of cars from Red River Region did to Rennsport V in 2015. Since the 2015 event was such a phenomenal trip we were definitely going to return. So the planning began! There would be four cars who were in for the full journey: RIck and Lorrie Dobel (991), Paul and Sue Thiessen (997.2), Peter and Anna Fuller (964), all who attended in 2015 and a new addition, Mike and Janice Normandeau. (991). There would be a couple of additions in Monterey, CA to round out our group to a total of 12 representing Manitoba!
The Rennsport trip which we did in 2015, as in 2018, was as much about getting to the event! The getting there and planning the route is a huge part of the journey, so once again, Rick planned a great route which this article will give you all a taste for! Commitment had to be made early as tickets had to be ordered in October 2017, so there was a lot of anticipation for the event. There was a great deal of planning in terms of the travel route, hotel reservations to be made, and waiting for tickets to arrive and then finally the departure date arrived! Our drive to Rennsport included covering 8 states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California.
On Friday, September 21st around 7:45 am the group met at Highway 2 and the perimeter and began the journey. We drove through southwestern Manitoba winding down through La Riviere, Pilot Mound and Manitou, ending up crossing into the U.S. at the Hansboro crossing.
We continued on some great secondary roads in North Dakota and stopped for lunch in Minot ND. As we continued west driving the back roads, it is amazing how much activity there is ongoing in the oil patch! We made our way through the foothills, winding up in Billings MO for our first night. We walked over to a great local Italian restaurant for dinner to cap off a great day and it was great to stretch our legs after about a 12 hour drive!
We departed the hotel on Day 2 around 8:00 am and headed to Red Lodge MO which leads you to the entry to the Beartooth Pass.
After driving the winding mountainous pass we stopped about half way to check out the overlook which allows you a spectacular view of the winding road up the mountain. We continued the climb to the top which is close to
11,000 feet of elevation and then we descended on some more windy roads. There was still some snow in some of the fields on the side of the road. When you have finished coming down the pass, you enter into a small tourist town, Cooke City. A little further down the road we stopped at an even smaller tourist community called Silver Gate to stretch legs and check out the gift shop!
Next up for the day was a drive through Yellowstone National Park. Unknowingly it turned out to be “free” park pass day, which made the park very busy with lots of vehicles on the road. We drove through the park on great quality, windy roads, ending up at the Old Faithful geyser about a half hour before it was set to have its 2:10 pm eruption. We all picked up a light lunch at the general store that we could eat while we waited so we wouldn’t miss the geyser. If we didn’t catch that eruption we would have had to wait another 2 hours! The number of people and the infrastructure built around the geyser area including benches was somewhat unbelievable. We had been to Old Faithful in the early 80’s and there was hardly anything around the geyser. After the geyser show we headed towards Jackson Hole, which took us through the Teton National Park which offers a spectacular view of the Grand Teton Mountains. We stopped at the Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole for drinks. Rick and Lorrie used to visit that bar in their university days, and they say it is very much unchanged including the bar stools which are saddles mounted on pedestals.
After Jackson we drove to a small town, Afton WY for our overnight destination, Colter’s Lodge, which was an historic hotel built in 1939. The rooms had all been updated and the place had great character! There was a great steakhouse in the hotel so we had dinner there and then adjourned to the bar where they had a live band playing as we ended up being there on Saturday night!
On Day 3 we departed around 7:30 a.m. heading out on Highway 89 which turned out to be a fantastic Porsche driving road. It was smooth and full of twists and turns. We entered the State of Idaho and drove through the Caribou National Forest. After winding through the forest, we followed the Oregon Lake Bear Trail Scenic Bi-way around Bear Lake. There were some unbelievable houses all around the lake and the mountainside. We continued along the Scenic Bi-way and then entered into the Cache National Forest. All along the drive, the changing colours on the trees were spectacular! As we were driving these windy, curvy roads we really got an awakening when we came across about 5 different groups of cows right on the edge of the highway and they were not behind any fencing! It was a good thing it was morning! Thanks to Paul and Sue Thiessen we were equipped with two-way radios, so Rick was able to warn the rest of us when he came across the cows!! We hit Logan UT for a quick breakfast and then got back on the road. We headed towards Salt Lake City and basically followed the Interstate bypass roads. Next on our itinerary was a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats. On our way towards the Bonneville Salt Flats, we drove along the side of Great Salt Lake and there are fields and ditches full of salt. So much so, it looks like snow as far as you can see. There were salt processing plants right along the highway. We stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats where land speed records are made! The Bonneville Speedway is essentially a marked roadway out on the salt flats. You are free to drive out in the flats and drive as fast as you want! The 3 turbos made a few runs and everyone left the Salt Flats with very big smiles!! After the flats we made a quick lunch stop in Wendover UT and then made our way to Reno NV for our next overnight at the Nugget Casino Resort. We all checked into the resort and had rooms on the 23rd floor with a nice view of Reno. After a quick change of clothes, the group gathered downstairs for a cocktail and dinner in the resort steakhouse. After lots of good food and a few bottles of wine, most of the group hopped into a limo and headed down to the strip in Reno to check it out!
On Day 4 we planned an 8:30 a.m. departure to make our way through town and head for Truckee, CA where we stopped to do a car wash and get another coffee and some breakfast. From Truckee we headed to Lake Tahoe. Our plan was to drive partially around the lake to South Lake Tahoe. To get there we drove through the scenic Sugar Pine Point State Park and pulled over part way at a vista overlooking Lake Tahoe. The signage noted that the lake is 600 feet deep! From there we drove through the Toiyabe National Forest and then climbed to Ebbetts Pass with an elevation of 8,730 feet. This was probably the most narrow, windy, two lane road, with more ups and downs that we have ever driven!! After that we stopped at a lodge on Alpine Lake for lunch. We sat out on the deck and enjoyed great food, great weather and wonderful scenery. We were told the lodge would be shutting down in a couple of weeks. The lodge owner told us that once the snow starts, the roads are not plowed. We reached our final destination of Lodi, CA mid-afternoon and had a gathering of the group around the pool to plan our evening! From this point on the trip, we were introduced to the virtues of Uber!! We ordered a couple of cars and headed downtown to a pub style restaurant for dinner!
Day 5 included pre-planned visits to a couple of wineries. We started off with Michael David Winery late morning. They have a great bakery and bistro with fresh baked products so this location was planned for our first stop since it included a wonderful spot for lunch. Everyone enjoyed the wine tasting as well as the beautiful grounds and outside sitting areas. There was a great deal of shopping including wine and other goodies including the purchase of a number of 7 Deadly Zins Yeti mugs!! Then we moved to the bistro for lunch and after that we were off to our second scheduled stop at Macchiato Wines. We had a short tasting at Macchiato. One of our Uber drivers in the morning recommended Viaggio Winery as they have spectacular grounds, so we ordered up some Uber cars and headed there to check it out. We enjoyed wine tasting and some nice sparkling drinks and toured the grounds. They were exceptionally beautiful and looked as though they host weddings. We arranged a final Uber ride combined with a taxi and headed back to the hotel for a swim. We had a reservation at the Rosewood Bar & Grill for dinner early evening and again ordered up some Uber cars! We all enjoyed a great dinner and great company!!
Day 6 was only a short drive around 3 hours or so to Monterey, CA. We stopped at the Laguna Seca Raceway so some of the group could pick up tickets at will call and so everyone could get a sense of the racetrack and the layout to get a feel for where we would be parking the next day. Most of us had arranged to park in Corral parking, which has you parking with like-model Porsches. Then we headed to our motel to check in. We were joined by another couple from Winnipeg via Phoenix, Linda and Vic Enns (997). We had reserved rooms in a motel in Monterey called the El Castell – it is a drive up style motel which had been remodeled and the rooms were nicely updated. There was a great pool and casual seating area where we gathered each day after the races to make our evening plans. We picked a local Italian restaurant in Monterey and ordered up some Uber cars. Uber was a great way to get around as we were not having to look for parking for 5 cars and if anyone wanted some wine with dinner there was no concern about driving
Day 7 (Thursday) was an early start for the group as the race gates are open at 7:00 a.m. and we knew from past experience that there would be a lineup on the highway to get in and there would be a lineup at the store for Rennsport shirts. We were in a short line on the highway and once we got in to Laguna Seca, the stores were already open, much to our surprise and everyone got in and got the required goodies! Later in the morning, the stores had lineups and they restricted entry throughout the day. In addition to the racetrack store, Porsche has a large store with lots of product for sale, both Rennsport related as well as general Porsche goodies! The event is massive and includes an unbelievable number of vehicles on display, both collector and race cars. You can walk right up and look at cars – they are not roped off. You can walk around the race teams while they are prepping vehicles. You have full access to the race track and there were a number of races scheduled all throughout the 4 day weekend. There were a massive number of booths where vendors displayed and sold their products. Everyone made their way through the event at their own pace and we convened at the pool area at the motel after the day to recap. After that we had a reservation at the Crab House in Monterey and now we had a group of 10 and once again used Uber. Late in the evening of Day 7, we had another Red River Region couple fly in to enjoy Rennsport, Dale and Eleanor Milne (996 in a rental Altima) and joined the Winnipeg group for Rennsport!
So at the track on Day 8 (Friday), once again everyone moved around through the track at their own pace, attending a variety of events where there were speakers, getting autographs from race car drivers, watching the races, or admiring all of the cars on display, or enjoying going through all of the vendor booths. There is so much to see you almost don’t know where to go first!!! You definitely need more than one day to do the event justice. Some of the group headed out to do some fabulous driving in the area including 17 mile drive which provides phenomenal views along the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. After the race day, once again we gathered to compare notes before heading out to dinner. We were now an expanded group of 12 and were able to make some adjustments to the reservations which Rick had made months earlier! We had a seafood theme running and had dinner at Fish Hopper in Monterey!
Day 9 (Saturday), for many of the group was the last day at the track to take everything in for the last time including watching the races; walking through the cars being displayed, both for the event as well as those in the corral parking. Everyone gathered as a group in the stands to watch the 919 attempting to make a speed record. We had a final gathering back at the El Castell to compare notes on everything we saw through the week and trade some stories and just enjoy each other’s company. We had a final evening dinner reservation at Schooners in Monterey. It was a fantastic trip and everyone had a great time at an event that you can’t quite imagine if you haven’t attended! The majority of the group was planning an early departure on Sunday as everyone but the Fuller’s and Milne’s were driving to Phoenix, AZ.