DELIVERY OF FIRST PORSCHE…AND THEN SOME
By Thomas W. Herren
Florida Crown Region – Porsche Club of America
The photos that accompany my article were taken in 1959 at the Porsche factory in Stuttgart when I toured the factory prior to accepting delivery of my new Porsche 356 1600S coupe. I was finishing a three-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army’s 4th Armored Division based in Erlangen, Germany, which started in August 1957. While my association with the Army lasted for 25 years, my association with Porsche has been going strong for over 55 years.
My engagement with sports cars began in Germany with the purchase of a new Triumph TR3, which gave me the opportunity to participate in the Scuderia Hanseat driver’s school on the famed Nurburgring in August 1959. I did well enough in the school to feel I was capable of competing in the sport a little more seriously, and I placed 7th overall in a group of 133 drivers, and second in class at the ‘Ring. Stirling Moss (long before being knighted by the Queen), and Wolfgang von Trips were among our instructors, along with Leo Levine, Eberhard Mahle, Heinz Meier, Helmut Schulze and Hans Stuck, Sr. My greatest memory of that driving experience was the performance of the Porsches I watched on the track. I ordered my first Porsche when I got back to Erlangen.
My Porsche was delivered in time for me to enter Norisringrenne, a “local” racing event held at Nuremberg in July of 1960, and also prior to my return to the U.S. When back in the states, I was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA, where I joined both PCA and SCCA and drove my first stateside race at Savannah’s fledgling Roebling Road Racetrack. I followed up with races at Courtland, AL; Corry Field, Pensacola, FL; and Osceola, FL.
My military assignments included Korea, followed by ROTC Instructor duty at the University of Rhode Island, a tour in Vietnam, and then followed by a year at Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. By the time I started duty at the Pentagon in 1970, my Porsche ownership and participation were at a low level. I then found my Porsche action at Summit Point Raceway, which was conveniently located about an hour from my home in Falls Church, VA. For the next 15 years, I was an instructor at that great track for the Potomac Region of PCA.
Overall, my romance with Porsche includes ownership of more than 20 models, ranging from that 1960 356 to include a Speedster, seven 911s, two 928s, a 924, two 944s, four 993s, a Cayman, and two 997s. Other than Porsches, I have also enjoyed a Mercedes 300SL, Ferrari 330GT, and an Alfa Romeo 1600, along with a collection of family sedans. I will confess that all this automobile experience started in Seoul, South Korea, in a 1942 war surplus Willys Jeep my father gave me at age 14.
Upon my retirement from defense contractor work that followed me from my Pentagon days and my Army retirement, my wife, Peggy, and I moved to Jacksonville in 1993. These last 22-plus years have been spent enjoying the many Florida Crown Region events at Roebling Road, as well as serving as President of the region from 1997-2001. I’m proud to say that my son is now using the same Roebling Road today that I taught him “how to” on 25 years ago.