Racetracks are magical places. Even if you’re not there to race or drive at all, there’s a certain feeling associated with the acrid stank of race gas and burned rubber. Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be a “spotter” for a Porsche Club of America member.

Reporting and photography by Jonathan JBH Harper

I’ve driven track days, raced karts and battled at the 24 Hours of LeMons, but I have never been a spotter. I didn’t even know what it entailed but I readily agreed knowing this gig would get me within proximity of a large range of classic and contemporary P-car racing machines. I went to bed early the night before, dreaming of the raw and hollow wail of a flat six motor; or fifty of them.

Arriving at the track Saturday morning I was greeted with the unfortunate news that the driver I was to spot for had encountered a terminal electrical issue forcing him to retire before even hitting the track. Gremlins be damned, my entry fee was paid and I’d been told the catering at Monticello Motor Club is top notch.

With my trusty Sony A7 and borrowed 70-200mm lens I set out to find some good vantage points to practice panning shots. The first qualifying session released from pit lane was like a swarm of angry bees. Spec Boxsters were dime a dozen, as were 996 GT3s, but the classic air cooled machines hold a special place in my heart garage after getting to know the CCC ‘74 911 a few years ago. The sound is truly intoxicating, especially off-throttle when you get this other-worldly BWAHHHHH as the revs drop:

A few hours later I left sufficiently sunburned with a full belly and a full memory card. Of course, the only danger of going to the track and not driving is when you depart, and have to continuously remind yourself that the E90 328i you’re driving is in fact not a race car, and the roads that surround the track are definitely not a racetrack.