Rennsport Reunion 6 to Minnesota

This is a story about my travels to Rennsport Reunion Six in Monterey, California and the drive back to Minnesota in my 2007 Porsche Cayman S. On this 3,000 mile journey, I encountered many things, some truly blissful, others agonizing. When you are caught thinking about a long road trip from your cubicle, you think, “wow, I could use one of those right now.” Just you, your Porsche, and the open road. But no cross-country road trip comes without some perils. The trick is, how do you overcome the obstacles and come home safely having chased every adventure to the fullest? This is the story of my trip.

Some of you may not know me yet, but my name is Josh Hway. I am a freelance photographer and car-nut. I bought my Porsche from a local gentleman in Eden Prairie with only 35K miles on the clock just three years ago. Since that happy day, I have basically daily-driven the car with the exception of winters, but I have always dreamed of hitting the highway with my little Cayman in search of new roads and grand adventures. Finally, in late 2017 the PCA announced plans for the sixth Rennsport Reunion at the famed Laguna Seca to be held in September the following year. “This is it,” I thought to myself! After very little consideration, I bought tickets and started planning

Fast forward to September 2018, I just loaded up my pride and joy on a jankey transport truck bound for San Francisco. The plan was to ship out the car and drive it home due to time constraints I had. At the recommendation of a friend of mine who owns a local car dealership, I went with ‘the cheap option’ rather than Reliable or someone like that who’s quotes came in three-four times more expensive. I rolled the dice and hoped no tragedy would befall my Cayman on the trip to CA.

A week later when I arrived in SFO myself, I took an Uber 10 minutes away to the pickup spot. We drove to the back of the small building for the transport company to a tiny little backlot, I look left, nothing, I look right, nothing. The office was now closed, but we planned to lock the key inside the Cayman and I would bring my spare key to get in. Me and the uber driver hunted a little more for it until finally, tucked out of sight behind a few larger SUVs, there it was! She was a little dusty and had a few drops of grease dotted on the paint, but overall, it made it there pretty cleanly! However, the first problem of the trip quickly became apparent, the main key was not in the car like it was supposed to be. The office now closed and all of the employees gone, and I have a lost key! Thankfully, after 10 minutes of freakout, a straggler employee emerged from the building with my key.

Back on track, I hit the road and headed south to Rennsport set to begin early the next morning. My personal goals for attending events like these are always a mix between personal interest and photography business. It’s always a balance between simply enjoying the spectacle and hustling to make the most of it for professionals gains. But when I arrived at the famed track in a dense fog and rolled up and over the steep hillside to the main gates my internal struggle faded away as I began to hear the vintage 911 club racing class out for warm-ups.

Rennsport as a whole was a blur: One moment I was hitching a ride on parade laps in a 2018 GT3 in Miami Blue, and the next, I was cruising around on a golf cart with Bobby Akin. The event was total lunacy and memorable for any Porsche fan, but this is not a story about Rennsport VI — it is about the journey. And thus I am passing by many of the details of the actual Porsche event for that of the road-trip home. You can see more from my experience at Rennsport on my social media @dynamicphotowerks.

My road-trip began on Sunday as RRVI was starting its final day. I had to leave Monterey early to drive north up Hwy 1 to pick up my brother Jake at SFO by mid-morning. Jake was flying in to be my co-pilot for the journey. I made my way up to Santa Cruz for breakfast at a really awful coffee shop and kept heading north up CA-1. Time was of the essence if I wanted to get to the airport on time, but if you’ve ever driven CA-1, you know it is quite difficult not to stop at every pull-off. The sun was coming out, the Pacific looked a beautiful shade of blue, and the Cayman was feeling strong. I was having a perfect morning (well, except for that terrible coffee shop).

I made it to SFO on time having practiced my self-control and not stopped at EVERY pull-off back on Highway 1. I picked up Jake, wedged his pack into the trunk and started driving West, but not before checking out the Golden Gate bridge for the first time and snapping some pictures amongst the hordes of tourists and buses. Our first day on the road was an interesting one because we had to drive to Mammoth Yosemite Airport on the East side of the Sierras by 7PM. This was a BIG ask because it meant blasting past some amazing sites in some of California’s most beautiful areas. The reason we had to get to that airport by 7pm was because I rented an SUV for one day that we needed to traverse up some mountain roads in order to summit Nevada’s highest mountain, Boundary Peak. Hitting a few certain mountains was a goal for us on this trip.

Free of the city, we rocketed Eastward toward Yosemite National Park. My original plan was to drive over the Sierras on Tioga Road (CA-120) but as we got closer and closer, our GPS’ conflicted and suggested Sonora Pass to the north. On the map it was more miles but saved us nearly fifteen minutes. With the estimated time of arrival already after 7pm, we caved and followed Sonora Pass. It’s not to say Sonora isn’t a beautiful drive, but it just wasn’t what I had planned for and researched. However, with nearly empty roads up there, let’s just say that we made up some additional time threading the needle on this 80 mile stretch of road. The Cayman was loving it, and so was I. That said, after a few photo stops, we still just arrived at the Mammoth airport at 6:57PM.

We now had a rented Dodge Durango for one day while the Cayman spent the night parked at the airport. Our reason for this was because the next leg of our journey included mountains roads that tested even the might of our AWD Dodge. We drove from Mammoth Airport an hour NE through Benton, CA where we snagged a burger at the one and only little gas station/restaurant/general store run by a very kind Native guy who fired up the grills for us even after they technically just closed for the night. From there, we drove north a few miles to an unmarked Breaking Bad type of road where two miles down it we in fact passed a very questionable RV with odd blue lights on inside of it. We kept on driving up the rutted and washed out road in total darkness to the point of no return which were switchbacks so sharp and steep that there was literally no turning around. We were driving up the White Mountain range on the border of CA and NV to begin a hike of the highest mountain in Nevada, Boundary Peak. We few more miles of dark, dangerous driving and we arrived at the saddle where we slept in the Durango for the night. The morning came and so did a successful summit.
After that long and strenuous morning of hiking over 10 miles and concealing the damage we did to our rental Dodge we finally got back to the airport to collect the Porsche. Jake and I took about 30 minutes to repack our gear and clean ourselves up a little bit to begin the next leg of the trip. The time was now about 4 in the afternoon and we had all of Nevada to get across. Our next goal was to break into Utah before quitting for the night. We had 421 miles to go and most of them were across very quiet desert two lane highways. From Mammoth to St. George UT our average speed was over 90mph but during a few select stretches we may have breached the 150 mark, impressive considering the car was at maximum capacity. The grunt of the 3.4 liter flat six never wanted to stop pulling. The top speed claim of the Cayman S is 171 and I am very confident that the car could do that, but I’ll reserve that for when the car is not fully laden. Aside from gas stops and one race against the rising shadow line of the horizon with the sun at our back, our day was mostly uneventful. We arrived in St. George safely late that night.

As morning broke, so did our spirits. Rain was the culprit of our dismay as the forecast was increasingly bleak. I originally planned from some amazing routes and stops for us throughout the middle of Utah, but the rain changed our plans. That paired with bad weather forecasts for Mount Elbert CO two days from then (the day we planned to hike that mountain), we decided to advance our timeline and just blast across Utah to get ourselves into position for a summit attempt at Elbert one full day before I originally planned. That decision meant us driving through 14 hours of rain in Utah and half of Colorado. Nothing to report here, just a lot of boring Interstate miles. We pulled into Aspen Colorado around 7pm to resupply and crack a few Dumb & Dumber jokes and promptly left to drive over Independence Pass while there was still a glimmer of light in the sky. Arriving down on the other side of the pass in Twin Lakes CO, we headed for the campground at the trailhead of the mountains, but when we arrived, it was gated up and closed for the season. Thus we decided to camp out in the parking lot of the trailhead.

The following day we were blessed with a successful summit and beautiful weather, only wavering near the summit at 14,439’ where we experienced strong winds and scattered snow. But this isn’t a story about mountain climbing, it’s about the road trip. From Twin Lakes we drove NE up I-70 where we cut north at Silverthorne up CO-9. CO-9 became a personal highlight for me. The road is not necessarily a fun road full of technical corners, but rather a road with sweeping hills and exceptional vistas over every crest. Maybe it was just the magic of the moment with the sun getting low over the mountains and the fall colors at their peak that captured me. Regardless, I suggest you drive CO-9 at some point, you heard it here. From there, we made our way up to Great Rocky Mountain National Park and up to the incredible pass just as darkness was taking over. We were too late for great photos, but the emotional experience will be remembered forever on that the rockiest of National Parks. Some of my fun was being robbed of me through this stretch however. The Porsche was feeling very sluggish at altitude that it began to worry me, I could hear IMS haters chanting in my head “you’re car is going to blow up’! Thankfully as we descended, the odd behavior the car was exhibiting faded away quickly. We were at 12,183 feet after all, that is a long way from sea level where cars like to hang out. On our way down the east side of the mountains toward Denver, we did see a nice moose, that took my mind off of the car.

It was officially our final night of the trip and we wanted to celebrate with a nice dinner and some drinks, but on our way down the mountain on CO-34 we thought we would find a nice place to eat in the mountain town of Estes Park, but after parking and taking a look around, the overwhelming smell of popcorn in the air and drunks stumbling around in the darkness didn’t impress us, we kept driving. We found a Texas Roadhouse down on level ground and ordered the prime cuts to celebrate the mountains climbed and the miles passed.

Our final day came early the next morning. We had 875 miles to go, four states, two state highpoints to top, and a dozen Redbulls to crush. Feeling like John Belushi, we hit it! Next stop was the Nebraska highpoint called Panorama Point. Research only gets you so much, and when I was planning the routes to this highpoint, I didn’t catch the part about the dirt roads —  miles and miles of them. When we were still about 20 miles away from Panorama, the dirt roads began. We tried to find alternate routes, but cell coverage was gone and my GPS showed this as the shortest route. Jake and I reluctantly pushed forward. I am no stranger to dirt roads, but the Cayman is, and a puncture is the last thing we need right now seeing as there were no other signs of life for at least 20 miles behind us. Turning from smooth grade to terrible wash boards in just the first half mile, our average speed dove to about 15mph for the next twenty miles of dirt. We were deep in Nebraska now. After what felt like a lifetime, we got to the cut off road to the highpoint, and an even narrower set of tracks with a high center and scattered rocks for about one mile. We rolled over the cattle guard and pushed on to the end. To put a picture in your head, this state highpoint still just looked like a mostly flat field, but there was a small bench and landmark there to signify this spot of Nebraska. Jake and I shared this moment with a young Buffalo pacing near us. We took our photos and hit the road. After 10 more miles of dirt we finally found tarmac again, sweet sweet tarmac. Our average speed went up from there, way up.

Nebraska done. South Dakota was a blink. Into Minnesota for a moment before we headed 15 minutes south of the Iowa border to check off Hawkeye Point from our list of highpoints. We only spent 30 seconds there because now the home-sickness was kicking in. Just three more hours of rainy, dark roads and we were home just before 10PM. 3,000 miles exactly on the tripmeter, four state highpoints completed, nine states passed through, countless smiles, dozens of brilliant driving roads, and forever memories created. Go drive. Go live free.

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