This weekend marks the inaugural Porsche Sportscar Together Fest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a first of its kind celebration of Porsche, motorsports, and car culture with a full schedule of Porsche single-make and club racing plus multiple entertainment and hospitality options spread across the three-day event.
Brian Blocker, the series manager for Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands, said it’s been an event two years the making and should come as no surprise that it coincides with the launch of North America’s own Carrera Cup series.
“Everything with Porsche always starts on the race track,” Blocker told Sportscar365.
“When we started looking a couple of years ago at redeveloping our motorsport pyramid and launching some new Porsche one-make platforms, we started kicking around the idea of creating a celebration to bring all of those different parts of the pyramid together.
“We have the Porsche Club of America, which is the largest single manufacturer focused club in the world, at our foundation.
“We have the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama, and new to this year we have the Porsche Carrera Cup North America.
“The idea was to bring all of those platforms together along with our Clubsport offerings and some other cool cars that have come down the line in the purpose-built race car world and give the drivers and fans a chance to get together.
“Luckily, we have incredible support from Porsche Cars North America, who has really borne the brunt of the work.”
Blocker said that Indianapolis quickly emerged as the host location due to the history of the circuit, the support of its staff, and the central location within the U.S. and added that Porsche’s business connections with IMS owner Roger Penske were a “pleasant bonus.”
With a large selection of cars slated to be on site for the event, which is open to the public, Blocker is optimistic that it will make for a unique festival atmosphere.
“I think the atmosphere is going to have great energy,” said Blocker. “General admission will be allowed to get up close and personal with the teams and drivers in the paddock. All of the garages will be opened up and people will be flowing through.
“Porsche Cars North America has a lot of other great things planned in terms of autocross and off-road ride-along sessions, there are yoga sessions in the morning, there will be live music throughout the day while the track is cold, lots of hospitality options, a fun zone… so lots of activities for the kids, photo opportunities with a Cayman Islands-themed Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.
“A lot will be going on for sure and we anticipate some good energy.”
While there are currently no firm plans to turn this into an annual event, Blocker indicated that the possibility exists pending a successful first running this weekend.
“We don’t know yet, it’s the first of its kind that we’ve done here in North America,” he said. “There have been Porsche Sport Cups in others markets but I think the brand as a whole is looking to see how this comes together.
“There have been 40-plus cars at some of the Sprint Challenge races, 35 or more in some of the Carrera Cup races this year, and of course the Porsche Club of America can always bring as many cars as will fit on track.
“When you have those kind of numbers of people running, it makes sense to bring these series together and let all the Porsche platforms see what the other ones are up to.”
USAC Bringing IMS Expertise to Festival
The USAC-sanctioned Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama will make the first of two trips to IMS on its 2021 calendar during the festival with a return trip planned in conjunction with the Indianapolis 8 Hour in October.
The new series, which according to USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller has exceeded expectations and is poised for further expansion in 2022, is only a small part of the sanctioning body’s role for the event.
“We have had a tight relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for many, many years, and what people probably don’t realize is any time there’s an event on the road course, USAC is typically involved,” Miller told Sportscar365.
“That includes NASCAR, the [IndyCar] Grand Prix weekend, and that’s because the Speedway was built around one event, and other events grew there including the Formula 1 race, which USAC was the host sanctioning body for in the U.S.
“We run a flag marshal program at IMS so we have a staff in place over 50 days this year at IMS for events on the road course. Outside of that with our relationship and our proximity across the street, when Porsche realized that they were putting on a large-scale event, they called on us.
“We’re familiar with the registration process and the waiver process which is very different at IMS than at most tracks.
“Porsche has relied on our expertise, our backend systems, that we’ve utilized to expand beyond Porsche Sprint Challenge to incorporate Carrera Cup and PCA. We’re facilitating the competitor to one stop shop for this event.”
While USAC is best known for sanctioning midget, sprint car, and Silver Crown short oval racing, Miller stressed the organization has a broader reach than many realize including sanctioning rallying and snowmobile racing in addition to organizing hundreds of events around the country annually.
“We’re continuously putting on events, over 400 a year, that have similar processes,” he said. “People need to register, they need to sign a waiver, they have to buy tickets and other items for that activity.
“Whether it’s a sanctioning part of the competition during the race or actually putting an event on and all of the ancillary entertainment that goes into an event like this, we have a wide range of things that we do.
“It’s what we do on a day-to-day basis, this is just a new approach for us with our relationship with Porsche.”
Porsche Sprint Challenge Has Grown USAC’s Road Racing Visibility
Despite a significant history in road racing, including serving as the sanctioning body first for Pirelli World Challenge and now for SRO America, Miller said USAC’s involvement with the Porsche Sprint Challenge has made the Indianapolis-based group more visible in road racing circles.
“What the Porsche series has done for us, it’s brought the USAC name out a little stronger in road course racing where people are now more aware of our role.
“We go beyond just running the back end for somebody. With the Porsche series, we’ve got the actual race control, the safety, the tech elements, hospitality elements that we’re 100-percent responsible for.
“What we’ve been able to do is showcase that USAC can play a major role in road racing just like it did from 1958-1962 when it held the USAC Road Racing National Championship.
“I do think we have raised the awareness of some of the expertise that USAC can bring to road racing and I think you’re going to see some of that in some announcements that are upcoming in the next 60 days and into next year.”