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Penske Porsche 911 RSR Airborne in Vintage Racing Crash

by | Oct 13, 2014 | Classic Porsche Blog, Race and Rally

More bad news via email recently, when I received these pics of a crash involving the ex-Sam Gassel 1973 Penske Sunoco Porsche 911 RSR recreation at the 2014 Coronado Speed Festival. Sam bought the project unfinished from Gib Bosworth of Kremer ST replica fame, and built it into a very fine replica of the Penske car. It’s distressing to see it take such a heavy impact, but these things happen in racing.

The Coronado Speed Festival is part of San Diego’s annual Fleet Week, which is held at the US North Island naval base in San Diego to open the base to the public and recognise the contributions of San Diego’s military community. It is the US Navy’s only open-house event on the US West Coast.

Porsche 911 RSR Penske 1973 crash

Not too much information about the crash online, but it looks like it all kicked off in the first five minutes of qualifying. The pics suggest a wide mix of cars on track, and it certainly looks that way to me, having seen some video of the session shot from good mate Mike Gagen’s ’88 IMSA GTO Camaro, which was on track amongst a bunch of prototypes and a few 914s too.

If you’re thinking that a spread of cars from the 1960s to late ’80s on track at once is asking for trouble, you might be right. Regardless of fault in the incident, this is not a fun way to go racing. I can’t imagine that the car escaped lightly, which is very sad given how much work Sam put into this labour of love. Hopefully any damage caused to car and driver is entirely fixable (pic here from Flickr):

Porsche 911 RSR Penske 1973

It was recently announced that America’s SVRA had been awarded stewardship of the Coronado Speed Festival from 2015. SVRA already organises some of America’s biggest historic motor racing events, so hopefully affairs like the RSR crash will become a thing of the past. Gagen reminds us of a famous saying amongst  vintage racers: “your car already has race history, so the only history you can add is bad history.”

SVRA also oversees the popular Monterey Historics, so picking up Coronado and its sister events at Sonoma and Portland means that SVRA now runs all the major West Coast vintage racing events. Given some of the feedback on the cliquey-ness of certain race meetings, I’m not sure that is such a hot idea, but it is what it is. Hopefully my info is behind the curve and there will be room for everyone to take part. There is nothing quite like racing, California-style.



  1. Coronado Speed Festival - […] be this 911, happened in practice. Penske Porsche 911 RSR Airborne in Vintage Racing Crash - Ferdinand 74 911…

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