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A Spyder in Corvette Country

Photos and story by Harry Kennison

As I've related in previous Vintage Corners, growing up outside Detroit back in the 60's was not what you'd call a hotbed for sports-car racing. Oh sure, there were plenty of Corvettes cruising Woodward Avenue on any given Friday night, but if you wanted to get your sports-car racing fix, the closest track was located at Waterford Hills, about 25 miles northwest of the Motor City.

Waterford Hills was (and still is) a tricky, 1.5 mile road course with sweeping bends, a blind uphill right hander, short straights, and, in general, not a course that favors Corvettes, Mustangs, or Cobras. It was also the track where my best friend Greg (also known as "Lotus-man" to our fellow high-school classmates) and his dad raced their Lotus Super 7 at Sports Car Club of America races on weekends. The Super 7, as some of you may remember, looked a little like a cigar with bug eyes and motorcycle fenders at all four corners. It had a 1.5 liter, 4-cylinder Cosworth Ford engine, and side-draft Webers; and, because it weighed in at around 1,000 lbs., it could keep up with the big Vettes to about 80. Many consider it to be Colin Chapman's ultimate club racer.

Anyway, on race weekends, I'd volunteer ("Don't throw me into the briar patch.") to be Greg and his dad's "gofer" out at the track, which was definitely cool as it put you on the inside with all the cars and drivers. As a reward for helping out, you got to drive the Lotus back home after the race. With race numbers still in place, right-hand drive, and side-pipe blasting, it was way beyond cool.

Once the Lotus was through tech inspection, there really wasn't that much to do to the car in the paddock area until they called your race. So I'd clean the little windscreen and check tire pressures on the Dunlops and listen to Greg and his dad strategize about the best way around those big-honker Corvettes. I had plenty of time to sample some of the other cars in the paddock. One that caught my eye was a shiny silver Porsche RS60 or 61 Spyder (help me out here PCA historians!). Although I wasn't terribly into Porsches at the time, I was pretty sure that this was like one of those little Porsches that finished 1st and 2nd at the Sebring 12 Hour Endurance race down in Florida back in 1960, upsetting those big red Ferraris. And boy, did it ever sound great! (Talk about your Porsche heritage, there's more than a little similarity between the RS60/61 Spyder and today's Boxster.)

More recently I saw where one of these cars traded hands at an auction earlier this year for a cool $800,000. Now I have to believe that the driver up on the wheel of that RSK back in the mid-60's at Waterford Hills didn't have a clue as to how much his little racer might be worth some day.


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An unidentified driver pilots the Porsche RSK Spyder through one of the bends at Waterford Hills Michigan in the SCCA B-Modified Class back in the mid-60's.

Although the early Porsche Spyders were said to have been wind-tunnel tested by Porsche to perfect the shape, apparently this didn't include testing for front-end lift!

"Lotus-man" driving his infamous Lotus Super 7 at Waterford Hills, Michigan circa 1966.