GRAND-AM Series: Porsche Car Corral a Rolex 24 Tradition
Back in 1970, college freshman Ruben Ledesma drove his new Porsche 914 to Daytona Beach and watched a Porsche 917K win the 24 Hours of Daytona.
The name of the race and model of his Porsche have changed over the years, but it’s a trip the he’s made every year. Now, he’s looking forward to experiencing the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 – which will be the 42nd straight time he will experience the classic, this time at the wheel of a Porsche 911 Carrera S.
“I think at least 90-percent of Porsche owners have an affinity to racing,” Ledesma said. “And I can’t think of a better event to celebrate Porsche than the Rolex 24 – a race that Porsche has won overall 22 times.”
Ledesma is looking forward to experiencing the 2012 Rolex 24 with many fellow Porsche enthusiasts – continuing a tradition he began in 2001 when he helped organize a Porsche corral at the event which attracted 125 cars. Within a few years, the event hit capacity at its location near the horseshoe turn overlooking the infield road course.
The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident is now the Porsche Club of America VP and will be assisting with all nine Florida regions plus the Atlanta region of the Porsche Club of America at the event, one of a number of Porsche Corrals at GRAND-AM Rolex Series races in 2012.
This year, the PCA Zone 12 representative will be organizing the event. The national club rents the space in the infield, while the local regions procure a tent and arrange for security. The area is staffed around the clock by members of all of the participating PCA regions. Parking in the corral is free to PCA members and Porsche owners. In only three years, the area hit its limit of 200 cars, and it should reach capacity even earlier than usual on the morning of the historic 50th.
Ledesma said that nearly 600 guests visited the Porsche corral hospitality area in January’s Rolex 24. For next year, the PCA is looking at additional activities, such as presentations from great Porsche drivers and racing celebrities.
This past season, the PCA has organized corrals at Barber Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway in addition to the Rolex 24. The club plans to return to all three events in 2012, and is hoping to add an additional event or two.
Ledesma’s first Porsche corral was nearly his last. After making arrangements to secure the area on the eve of the race, he had a strange feeling that evening and contacted a speedway representative to meet him early the next morning. When they got there at 5:30 a.m., the space had disappeared, the tent was missing and campers had taken over.
“I thought it was all over,” Ledesma recalled. “But R.T. Hall from the speedway took over, cleared out the area and we had our corral back by 8:30 a.m., just before the guests began to arrive.”
The Porsche corral will be back in the same location in January. However, Ledesma is afraid that with the demand for the 50th Rolex 24, the area will again get overrun early Saturday morning – except this time, it will be Porsche guests filling the location.
“It’s going to fill up early, first come, first served,” he said. “So don’t be disappointed – this is an event you definitely want to be part of.”
Source: GRAND-AM Road Racing