The new Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is a striking modernist building situated opposite the factory and a very large Porsche dealership.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

Entering at the ground level ticket office (where there is also the ubiquitous cafe and shop) you take a long escalator through the heart of the building to the Museum floors.  At the top of the escalator the first car that you see is the aluminium shell of the pre war prototype Beetle designed by Ferdinand Porsche. The future lines of the Porsche 356 and 911 are clearly apparent.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

Prototype Beetle

Prototype Beetle

The Museum has a relatively small selection of cars on show but each is absolutely pristine and of great historical importance.  Near the prototype Beetle there is the first 356 Roadster and near that the first 911 coupe. The basic design architecture of the 911 has changed little since the first model.  That it still works so well is testament to the design genius of Porsche. At some point I would like a 911, preferably an air cooled model. A 911 S from the early 70’s on Fuchs alloys is about as pure a 911 as there is but sadly they are now beyond my reach financially. maybe I’ll get a T from the same period or maybe a 993 S. The latter would make a great everyday classic.

Porsche 356 Roadster No 1

Porsche 356 Roadster No 1

The first Porsche 911

The first Porsche 911

Among the racing machinery on display are a smart Porsche 904, the fantastic Porsche Salzburg Porsche 917 in which Richard Attwood won the rain soaked Le Mans 24hr in 1970,  and Alain Prost’s 1986 turbo charged McLaren TAG MP4 -2C . This is the car Prost used to snatch the world championship from Mansell (who had been leading him by 7 points) after the latter’s Williams suffered a 180mph tyre failure on the Brabham Straight at the Australian GP, the last race of the season.

Porsche 904 Coupe

Porsche 904 Coupe

Jo Siefet's Prsche 917

Richard Attwood’s 1970 Le Mans winning Porsche 917

Alain Prost's McLaren Porsche

Alain Prost’s 1986 Title winning McLaren MP4/2C TAG Porsche

It’s a great Museum but you can see it in less than two hours. Its definately worth a visit but you would not want to come to Stuttgart just for this museum. Luckily there is another bigger car company in Stuttgart with a much bigger and more interesting museum..

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The Lands End to John of Groats historic rally is one of the most gruelling in the UK and has long been on my list of must do events. It covers over a thousand miles in three days with long regularity sections and 20 or so competitive tests. Taking place at the beginning of December the competitors often face terrible weather as they slip and slide on narrow B roads through the West Country, Wales, The Lakes, and The Highlands.

I entered the rally last spring and since then my friend Gavin and I have practiced in a relatively leisurely fashion. Hopefully we will not embarrass ourselves when the rally starts next Saturday. One thing our rally day at Throckmorton (see below) taught us was the importance of getting the tests right. These often require competitors to navigate a tight and complicated course against the clock. Clear communication between the navigator and driver are essential and Throckmorton showed us that we needed a system to help us improve our accuracy and times. With that we have been practicing our new method on a table top with me shouting instructions whilst Gavin navigates a Porsche 917 around various paper cones. For a Le Mans racer the Porsche proved surprisingly nimble on the slalom , the huge brakes also helping us stop accurately across the line when required. Lets hope the TR6 we have hired for the actual event proves as good!

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What an inspired and exciting hire Sergio Perez is for McLaren. Sergio has been in fine form this season gaining three podium finishes for Sauber already. I remember seeing him at Silverstone last year and I was impressed with how fast he seemed in what was palpably not the fastest car on the grid. This year he has looked even sharper. Certainly he is a fine young talent.

Whilst I had tipped Di Resta for the vacant McLaren seat I must say I am more excited by Perez getting the drive. Di Resta is a fine driver but not particularly exciting. Perez has moments of brilliance and sheer pace. The thought of him in a front running car is mouth-watering. Clearly he will now be under enormous pressure to thrive. Podium finishes are like winning for Sauber.   Anything less than winning for McLaren is going to be a disappointment.  Having said that,  I think that on the whole he will be able to handle the pressure in a way many other young F1 drivers would not. His first test will be at Suzuka in a few hours. He has qualified a good 5th on the grid – way ahead of the hot shoe whose shoes he is filling. Hamilton qualified a poor 9th – I guess his shoes won’t be too hot for Sergio to step into..

There have of course been other Mexican F1 drivers. The most notable were the Rodriguez brothers, in particular Pedro.  Pedro raced for Lotus, Cooper, BRM and Ferrari in the late 60’s and early 70’s before his tragic death (at only 31)  in July 1971 in a Ferrari 512M sportscar at the Norisring, Germany. Despite winning only two Grand Prix  Pedro was known as a quick driver, particularly in the wet,  but he was unfortunate in only being able to drive non-competitive F1 cars.  It was a different story with sportscars.  He won Le Mans in 1968 in a Ford GT40 and was twice world champion in the beautiful but terrifying Porsche 917.

Pedro tries to get past Vic Elford at a rain soaked Brands Hatch 1970

…spins but still goes on to win

Mexico loves its motorsport and hosts rounds of Indycar and NASCAR. The race tack in Mexico City is named the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after the two brothers who are revered in their home country. Hopefully the success of Sergio Perez in F1 will lead to a whole new generation of Mexican F1 fans and maybe pave the way for F1 to return to Mexico.