2015 Porsche Parade Comments
On the Ohio River Scenic Byway (IN66) Tour
by Mark Rothermeier

Tuesday was the 1st day of the IN66 drive. We all know the roads….a great Porsche drive. We had to find a detour route the week before Parade in that the IN highway dept closed a bridge for repair. Dave Hostetter had discovered the closed road and Cheryl and I drove the detour route to be sure it would work for PCA. I had purposely planned months before for myself to lead the first day drive to be able to report back to John Diwick of Chicago who we had worked with for setting up these drives and our own SIR members who would lead the drive in the following days.

Once we were at French Lick, I discovered that my drive had been overbooked in a significant way. The groups were supposed to be limited to approx 40 drivers per day, which is a pretty big group to lead. John had told me that for the first day I would be leading 120 cars…Now, that will be one long string of Porsches making their way thru the Hoosier National Forest! So, the Mon afternoon before my Tues drive, I had a call from John asking if it would be OK to put a couple more with my group….well sure, what is a few more when you have 120 following….wow!  So, he told me we had a special request to take 3 more cars from the Porsche family. My first thought, was that since we are all in the “Porsche family” as PCA members and Porsche owners, it would be someone who was a late comer or some sort of mixup.   Noooo, he said this would be 3 cars and the drivers would be Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, his son, Felix Porsche, and a couple Porsche AG employees.  Hmmm, ….thought I.  

We met at the designated “Red” parking lot and began to stage cars. I was told that the “Porsche family” would follow me and then everyone else after them. Cheryl and I were introduced to them, there were a few pictures taken of us and pleasantries were exchanged. Their English was quite good. Others in the immediate area began to notice who they were. A few PCA folks came up and introduced themselves and Wolfgang very graciously greeted them and would sign a hat or something for them if asked. Very soon we got in to the cars and we were off. Felix was directly behind me in a yellow Boxster S and Wolfgang was in a gray 911 Targa and a couple of the Porsche Germany representatives were in a Panamera and then the masses of PCA Porsches.

It was quick for me to tell I would have no idea of how far back Porsches would following…as far as the eye could see and beyond! Once we got to the “driving sections” of IN 66, I had decided I would measure their interest and what pace I should keep for them. Felix and Wolfgang were right there behind me. So, I gradually started picking up the pace, and again…right with me. 

Once we got to the best, and twistiest, part of IN 66 we were moving along at a nice “and brisk” pace. Still, right with me! Wow…these Porsche people do more than just sell cars, they like to drive also! 

I will skip forward to arriving at the “Schnitzelbank” for lunch. We were advised before we left to sit at the head table with the “family” once we got there. I was a little curious how German people would like a German Restaurant in the US. For the most part, they indicated the food represented German cooking pretty well. Wolfgang had pork chops and never indicated otherwise, but I could tell it was not quite what he expected. He never said it, but expression can be a universal language. At the restaurant I sat beside a gal by the name of Sandra. She was fairly tall with light brown hair. I had learned that her responsibility at Porsche in Germany is for the worldwide growth of PCA. She visits countries were Porsche is selling cars looking to create a foothold and a start for PCA. That was encouraging and it surely works toward creating loyalty and the brand. She told me that if we were interested in having Dr. Porsche sign something for us, he would be happy to do so. She said “really, it would be fine and that he carries his own Sharpies for just those occasions”.  Hmmm.

Afterward, we exited the restaurant, and one of the people traveling with the Porsche family was someone by the name of Gunther. I was told he was a lifelong friend of Wolfgang and I suspected likely still a confidant.  Gunther bought German Chocolate bars as he left the Schnitzelbank, broke them off and shared them with everyone. Again, you don’t have to know German to know that “MMMM…yum” means good….and it was! Walking back to the cars, I asked, if you were in Germany and choosing to go to a restaurant, what kind of food or restaurant might you choose. The answer was Italian. The explanation was that it was simple and honest food that tasted good! Hard to argue with that!  

The drive proceeded back to West Baden. They were staying there as well as Cheryl and I. I mentioned to Cheryl that maybe we could have him sign something for us. I was a little concerned about being respectful and not being a rude American. Once back at the covered entrance, we all got out of the cars and again exchanged pleasantries. It was a very nice moment and day. They loved the roads and drive. Cheryl leaned over toward Wolfgang…”would you be able to sign our car for us?”. And, without missing a beat he said…”Sure”. 

We walked over to the car and I popped the front hood. He raised it up and reached into his pocket. “Would silver be fine?” ….I said, “yes, silver would be very nice”. He tried to position himself into a writing position, and then just stepped into the front trunk and got into a place where he could write. I yanked out my phone and got a couple quick pics. I figured I needed to capture the moment but maybe also to be able to prove this!

He got back out and we shook hands again and I thanked him. As he started to turn, I said “and I love the car”. He paused, looked, smiled big, and said…”that’s what I like to hear!”

What a great day and memory!

©2015 Southern Indiana Region of the Porsche Club of America