Porsche builds fast cars. They’re sleek and sexy and powerful and it’s not at all unusual to see them on the track. They’re the kinds of cars that win races or sit parked in the driveways of those with very deep pockets. But did you know Porsche once made tractors? Well, it did, and this weekend marked the first Porsche Tractor Race at Rennsport Reunion VI.
Your typical race involving any kind of Porsche is a grand affair with the rumble of powerful engines and vehicles that might well cost more than your house. This race was a little different, although those tractor engines were none too quiet.
The race featured 17 Porsche tractors, which the company made from 1956 through 1963, and kicked off with a Le Mans-style start. That’s where drivers all line up on one side of the track and run across to hop in their vehicles on the other side.
The fleet of smoke-belching tractors made its way onto WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a motley assortment of drivers. Everyone donned helmets for safety, but they had a little fun with their racing garb.
There were a few cowboy hats jammed down on top of those helmets, at least one man in overalls, and a couple guys in racing suits for variety. Several racers seemed to forget these were tractors not horses and started smacking the backsides of their beasts as though that might help them pick up the pace.
Special props to the woman who with the giant Porsche spoiler, which is absolutely necessary for proper downforce on your tractor, and to Gunnar Porsche Racing’s “Pink Pig,” which towed a trailer full of teeny tiny tractors down the track. Creativity counts, people.
As silly as this all looked, the drivers truly do know how to handle a vehicle on the track. The assembled tractor drivers included current and former professional race car drivers, although some had never driven a tractor. Among the racers were Patrick Long, Patrick Pilet, and John Oates, who is also one half of Hall & Oates.
Those drivers know how grueling it is to race, but this one was quick and easy. They drove only from the starting line to the Mother’s Polish bridge between turns 4 and 5.
The winner of the race was Porsche racer Patrick Long. Bet that’s a win he won’t soon forget.