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Falken Blog

Air Time: Luftgekühlt Celebrates Porsche Car Culture

Old or new, sports cars are for getting out on the road and enjoying them and tires obviously play a major role.

By: Patrick Long

Luftgekühlt was born out of my love of air-cooled Porsches. I love all Porsches – I have been fortunate to drive for Porsche since 2003. This year I am driving the Falken Tire Porsche 911RSR in the endurance classics of the TUDOR Championship races.

When I started to play around on weekends with my 1973 Porsche 911E I really began to understand what was so special about the early cars and the culture that comes along with them. While driving the Porsche and taking it to events, I met owners of other air-cooled Porsches and the idea to do different kind of car show came into my head. A long- time racing friend and now business partner, Howie Idelson, and I held Luftgekühlt (which means “air-cooled” in German) last September in Venice, California and Luftgekühlt 2 on March 1 in Culver City, California.

The air-cooled Porsches are a reason to bring a variety of people and lifestyles together. A lot of car events segregate and can be elitist, almost an old boys club where many don’t feel welcome or worthy. I saw a hole in the market – many events were not very approachable, and the vibe was almost too quiet and reserved. I felt it needed to be not just a car show but a people show.

That got me out of my reserved mentality and I thought “let’s just see where it goes and who shows up.” The first one in Venice really shined a light on how much Porsche culture there is in Los Angeles. There are so many people with Porsches that I never see at a Cars and Coffee or other shows like that, because they’d rather be driving, wrenching and hanging out with their friends on the weekend.

Our show is family- and dog-friendly. There’s a DJ. There are a lot of really nice cars, but also daily drivers and some rough cars that are far from perfect. We aren’t pioneering anything that hasn’t already been done, but it seems to fit in this area of LA.  There is a young movement in the air-cooled Porsche market and Luftgekühlt 1, held at Deus ex Machina, really cemented it.

For the second Luftgekühlt, I knew that we had a trump card in our venue at Bandito Brothers. Visiting their offices is an experience even on a normal business day, let alone when you pack in a bunch of vintage Porsches. We used their amazing interior space to curate a collection of rare and unique cars that aren’t often seen, and we then staged Porsches by eras and different crews around the compound.

It took weeks of planning, hundreds of e-mails, countless texts and phone calls to pull everything together, and required a full day of setting up the venue. On the day of the show I got up super-early, drove over in my 911E and parked it on a corner of one of the covered lots, not really giving it another thought. 

The weather was the single biggest stress. The inside space at Bandito Brothers was suitable for having an event even if no one had brought a Porsche. There was enough rare and unique equipment on display to keep any auto enthusiast entertained. My real concern was that people would assume the event was cancelled or not show up in the event of rain, but we were extremely fortunate how the weather worked out.

Jeff Zwart, who has been a great advisor and mentor, told me that I was wasting my time looking at the weather. He pointed out that the people who are into Luftgekühlt will show up rain or shine – in their cars.  That core group is the meat of our “type:”  they aren’t scared of much.  I guess you could consider us the “anti-concours.”  There isn’t a lot of grass around, and we sure don’t award trophies or require a dress code.

And man, did people turn up – despite overnight rain. We had way more cars than we expected. We didn’t do an official count, but a few people who spent some time trying to count all the cars said at least 300 cars participated, and that didn’t include the water-cooled cars that showed up as well as other cars parked in the surrounding parking lots.

Many people told me that they were drawn out by all the activity on their social media feeds. I think that’s perfect:  it’s fun to discover. We started Luftgekühlt with our friends, so we’ve kept it on a very personal level – no big advance publicity. We didn’t even reveal the venue address until a couple of weeks before. I guess part of the allure is finding out about it through the network!

In short – it was an amazing day. Great people, great venue, great cars. We have hopefully infected some new people with a love of early Porsches.

Old or new, sports cars are for getting out on the road and enjoying them and tires obviously play a major role.  I recently installed Falken Ziex ZE 950 tires, sized 205/55-15, on my 1973. It was a massive improvement over what I had on the car. To me, the trick with the wheel sizes and old era wheels is finding the right combination of performance while maintaining the classic aesthetics. I wanted something that looked appropriate to the car. This tire combo looks really, really good on the car and it gives me versatility – it has basically become my daily driver and has been in the rain more than once. 

One of the reasons I really enjoy this car is that you don’t have to drive the tail off it to have a good time and feel emotion.  It’s fun for me to try out some of the different models that Falken offers that fit the older 911. I will be trying a set of the Azenis PT 722 next on my 1986 3.2 Carrera.

Many people have asked me about the next Luftgekühlt. I’m still just soaking it in, and we’ll see what happens next. There are so many crowds of people that haven’t yet gathered, and so many killer architectural spots that car culture doesn’t normally see. It is cross-pollinating artistic culture and car guys who haven’t been exposed to things like that. We are still seeing new photos pop up every day (search #Luftgekühlt and follow us @Luftgekühlt on Twitter and instagram).

Patrick Long is a three-time ALMS GT driver’s champion, class winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, the only North American employed as a factory racing driver by Porsche and a class winner at the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000. With California roots and a European racing pedigree, he has been one of the top sportscar drivers of his generation, and races around the world in support of Porsche’s objectives. For 2015, he is racing with Patrick Dempsey in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as well as driving with Team Falken Tire for selected events in the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship.