Olivier Reimann stands vigilantly at race control, keeping a close eye on the time displays. 802 Porsches are waiting at the race circuit’s two entrances, and from up here, Reimann directs the big parade. The last race cars leave the track at 12:00 on the dot, and the first racing sessions start again at 13:00. With just one hour for the parade, it’s a tightly managed program.
Reimann is the vice president of Porsche Club Francorchamps, and is also responsible for the Porsche Club Francorchamps Days. The parade is not only an annual highlight; for Reimann it’s a stressor par excellence. But this time, he lets his emotions free, and risks a jump in the schedule - granting the parade participants a second round. "I decided on the fly," Reimann reports. "A thank you to the participants and our Club members."
Over the weekend, between 2,500 and 3,000 Porsches owners all over Europe gathered across the legendary racetrack for the Porsche Club Francorchamps Days. Here, everything revolves around driving, driving, driving. "The core of our event is riding in a relaxed atmosphere. Relaxed in the sense that we don't organize races where competition or contest matters," the organizer explains. "Relaxed but strictly organized - there are certainly safety aspects involved here.”
There are three Porsche Clubs in Belgium: Porsche Club Belgium, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year; Porsche Classic Club Belgium; and Porsche Club Francorchamps. "We are the Club with the most explicit focus on the racetrack. That's our main DNA," Olivier explains at the Porsche Club hospitality area, between numerous phone-calls. You really can feel the motorsport spirit. The combination of Club friends and racing sets the mood at the pit lanes; the kids romp between the racing drivers; the fans just enjoy the event, a colorful mixture of professionals, enthusiastic drivers, and family members of all ages. All inspired and ignited by Porsche motorsport fascination.
For Reimann, the coordination and organization of the event is in his hands – with seven others from the Club board and each with their own responsibility. All in all, he manages the event with a core of 11 people. On the weekend of the event, an additional 90 people are involved. Some of the crew are Club members, recognizable by their white jackets, but there are also external workers. Of course, with a 150-member Club you quickly reach capacity.
But the organizational limit, too, is pushed by Reimann and his colleagues - including his wife Magali and child Alexandre (the youngest son, Ferdinand, is still too small): "Since 2017, we have been running the Francorchamps Days on a volunteer basis and without an external service provider. Where it says Club on it, it says Club in it." Of course, he feels the pressure during the event. But he enjoys doing it, he assures us. "It's a joy to see that you can get so many people to participate and just have a nice weekend. That's something special.”
The whole event is international. The rentable racing boxes are occupied by the Luxembourg Club, three French Clubs, the hosting Club and the racing teams. You can see many Belgian, French and Luxembourg number plates, but there are also Club members from the Netherlands, Germany, England, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Denmark – on site. The high density of GT cars is remarkable, if only because of the 200 Porsche Track Tour vehicles. But on the extensive grounds between La Source and Eau Rouge, there is a fascinating variety: from the 356 to the classic 911, the Transaxle to many Boxsters, the Carrera GT and the 918 Spyder, to an eye-catching Taycan in Martini outfit.
The main theme of the whole weekend is of course the track, and the cars upon it, as Reimann explains. "And that's regardless of vehicle category and vehicle type." This means that anyone who owns a Porsche and fancies driving on the most beautiful race track in the world will have the absolute top opportunity to do so this weekend. "In a pure Porsche ambience together with other enthusiastic Porsche fans," adds Olivier on our way to the pit lane.
The two days are divided into sessions: Discovery and Classic, for those who have never hit the track before, or those with classic cars. And Sports and Expert for the GT and Cup vehicles. Each participant thus has the opportunity to drive on the race track for two to three hours a day, depending on their ambitions and abilities. "The sessions alternate throughout the day and participants can take friends and family with them. What we offer from the Club side is the opportunities to ride as a guest in the car of one of our Club members." You can even book a round in a GT3 RS or a GT3 Cup of the Porsche Track Tour, or take the Taycan for a spin.
Reimann has been a member of Porsche Club Francorchamps since 2003. For his 30th birthday, he bought a 993 and was made aware of the Club by a good friend. Then he bought a 968 for the race track, followed by a 964 RS. "That one I used very intensively on the racetrack for five years," the passionate gentleman driver explains. In 2016 he added a GT4, and in 2018 a 997 GT3 Cup. A 2.2 1971 F model rounds off the collection.
Although deeply rooted in his own Club and the "most beautiful race track in the world", he also enjoys the international Club world. They have a close relationship with the Federation of French Porsche Clubs and its President, Dominique Debord. Together with the Belgian Porsche Club, the federation supports the Francorchamps Days. The close cooperation at the event with Porsche Club Luxembourg and its newly elected President Patrick Risch is just as exemplary, as is his friendship with the Porsche Club Nürburgring and Frank Mischlich, who is at the Francorchamps Days with 60 people.
"The international Club world is a dimension on its own. You exchange ideas internationally, get together with other people, and can see it as personal enrichment and expansion," Reimann says. "You simply have the same reference, the same script, and that's the first hurdle. The basic attitude, the basis is simply there.”
The Club rents the track for a full two days. That's a lot of money to put up. "We deliberately never thought of the event as a side event of a motorsport event. At a 6-hour or 24-hour race, you are tied into the program of the race event. You don't have any slots to drive.”
For the past two years, the Club has lucked out by timing perfectly with the Porsche Track Tour, giving them the opportunity to rent the Track Tour infrastructure. “That means we have the hospitality tent, the race cars as exhibition highlights, the Track Experience pits, the info truck, the fast-charging truck and the GT and Taycan fleet of the Track Tour.” Porsche Club and Porsche AG, hand in hand for a broad audience.
"I think it's great that Porsche AG makes it possible for a Porsche Club to take on something like this and bear the responsibility. The trust towards us as a Club is simply extraordinary." It is unique in the automotive world, he adds. Not only because of the trust, but also because of the definition as part of a shared Porsche world, as an equal cooperation partner.
In the end, Reimann can finally relax and take a lap in the GT3 RS, with Porsche chief instructor Stef van Campenhout. He can look back on an event with 7,000 visitors, and 2,500 Porsches on the grounds – a truly phenomenal number by itself. But atop that, this was a major international event, set up and run by a local Porsche Club – by members, friends and volunteers.
A participant from Denmark put it in a nutshell on Sunday, in front of the pit of the Porsche Club Francorchamps, between GT3s, GT4s, a Gulf 917 and Cup 911s: "I messaged my Club friends group in Denmark: Hey boys, if there's a Porsche paradise, it's here in Francorchamps."