Patrick Long on »Luftgekühlt«: »Let the project speak for itself.«

Patrick Long has been a Porsche works driver since 2003. He won twice the 24 Hours of Le Mans, among numerous other championships and races. And with his Buddy Howie Idelson, he founded »Luftgekühlt«, now one of the biggest Porsche shows ever.

When you look at »Luftgekühlt« today, are you surprised, or did you expect this success in the form?

It's definitely a big surprise. I just wanted to create an experience that was self-driven. Something that I like and enjoy myself. I have had the idea that this could gain quick popularity, but never to the level that it has done. I think that a lot of that is due to the passion of Porsche, the people that Porsche attracts, they are very creative, and they are risk takers.

What makes Porsche so attractive for these type of people?

Good question. Of course, I don't know the one answer, but for me there is no other brand that delivers such a stand out product both in engineering and in the design. And that for decades. When you think of other brands, there are some that are certainly very strong in design, but the engineering part is a story in itself. Or when you think about some amazing machines with amazing engineering but lacking in the design or artistic and emotional appeal. The type of people that I like to talk to and surround myself with, from whom I like to learn from, they admire art, design and engineering in other parts of the life as well. Whether it is architecture or expensive watches or anything else. I think that's the attraction that brings these people together.

How did »Luftgekühlt« come about, anyway?

One of the reasons for »Luftgekühlt« was that I couldn't find a reasonable platform for a combination of classic cars and the West California lifestyle. I owned my first air-cooled 911 and couldn't find anything out there that really convinced me. Since 2014, when we started, everything has evolved a lot.

Reminiscent of the birth of Porsche when Ferry Porsche said he couldn't find the car he dreamed of, so he built it himself.

Absolutely. I think, my ambition was selfish. It was a time when I already enjoyed the spirit of Cars & Coffee in Orange County, for me it was the only weekly car event that I had heard about. But it didn't take place in Los Angeles and was just in a parking lot. And when I looked at any other event in Venice Beach, Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach, it was just missing the cars. So, I tried to bring the two together.

How do you see »Luftgekühlt«?

I see »Luftgekühlt« as another avenue for people with a common passion to gather. And not without a certain pride I look at the development of »Luftgekühlt«. »Luftgekühlt« was a kind of meeting place for motorists. At first it was also very quiet, conservative. Meanwhile it is a kind of lifestyle event, it is about people, about music, about food. And Air-cooled Porsche are basically just the wallpaper in the background, the reason why we come together. But it's about people meeting and having a good time.

Are there any plans to grow any further?

Sure, we're always open to new things. We are also in discussions, and as much as I hate the word »organic« in connection with growth, because it is simply overused in today's world, we are still on the position that we only tackle new things if they feel correct to us. The story should develop from itself. I was saying since the beginning when there were only 45 cars and a few hundred people in Venice: The goal would be for the »Luftgekühlt« brand to develop itself. That of course holds a certain danger, but on the other hand it also allows the user to shape the future.

What was the biggest surprise for you at »Luftgekühlt«?

The biggest surprise for us was Munich. We just never expected a response like that from the European car culture with just a few weeks’ notice and a few posts on social media. We then realized that it is more than just southern California that is listening.

What inspires a racing driver about the old technology of all things?

The experience of driving an air-cooled 911 is pure and immersive. I don‘t have time to play with buttons or look at my phone. My focus is 100% on driving. Of course, I am always reminding myself at the wheel that safety is not always a t a premium, it is a sobering experience, a departure from the normal. And that's what I crave, because as a racer I'm usually always surrounded by the latest technology and the best engineers, technicians and mechanics. Speed is normal for me. That's why I enjoy it all the more to drive slowly, to look out of the window, I feel like a child again. My driving style is so much more relaxed. I'm living that moment. It's again about driving for pleasure, not like in a race to win.