Beyond the pollution and traffic, there's something magical about downtown Los Angeles, Calif. Unlike New York, where the populace relies heavily on public transportation, in Los Angeles you're likely to find the type of people who'd rather drive. Like the folk who took part in Momo's Road to Rennsport Reunion rally, staged by the automotive accessories maker to mark its 50th anniversary.
Ending of course at the now-famous Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the rally starting point was Magnus Walker's garage in DTLA, Momo using the occasion to launch its special limited edition Magnus Walker steering wheel as part of its Signature Series.
These kinds of rallies aren't necessarily designed to go the fastest route but rather take roads that drivers will appreciate. Momo finished off the drive with a party on the raceway and gave awards to a few of the participants; additionally, the lovely Momo models, as well as Magnus Walker, were available for selfies. As daylight faded into night, everyone knew it was only the beginning of an amazing weekend that was Rennsport Reunion 2015.
I absolutely love road rallies. I got my first taste of them last year on Targa Trophy and I have yet to try Gumball. When I first heard that Momo was having a rally I knew I had to participate somehow. The only catch was it was a Porsche exclusive event and the way my bank account is set up I didn't own one.
An opportunity to drive our friend Bernard's RWB Porsche 911 came up, but unfortunately the day before the rally his mechanic deemed it unsafe to drive. Luckily a seat opened up and I was able to ride shotgun with Momo owner and championship driver Henrique Cisneros in a Liberty Walk 997.
Honestly, as powerful and amazing the car looked, I felt like the car lost its Porsche soul, as it was unable to corner without rubbing. By the end of the rally the car had rubbed so much it carved into the tires. It's perfect for cruising and for shows, but for rallies I'll stick with a factory spec Porsche. Regardless, I had a blast with the Momo crew, especially with Dessie Mitcheson and CJ Gibson. Holla!
INTERVIEW WITH HENRIQUE CISNEROS
SS: Is this the first Momo Rally?
HC: Yes, the Road to Rennsport Rally was the first official Momo rally. We have sponsored other road rallies in the past, such as Gumball 3000, but this is the first time we organized our own event
SS: How was your driving experience on the rally?
HC: Everything was excellent from start to finish. It was a great experience to see everybody gathered at Magnus Walker's garage in the morning, and seeing all the Porsches that showed up. We had everything from a 1960s Super 90 model to the new Cayman GT4 on the rally. Initially, we only invited 50 cars, but more than 70 showed up, so there were cars parked everywhere and it really added to the excitement of the occasion. We worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to close the 6th Street Bridge so we could all leave together, and it was a very special feeling to see the convoy depart together and head across the iconic bridge. We avoided the highways for the majority of the day, hitting some amazing canyons so that all the participants could enjoy their cars. We had scheduled a stop at Willow Springs Raceway, which allowed everybody to let loose before the five-hour drive up to Laguna Seca raceway for Rennsport Reunion V. We arrived at the Momo display booth at six PM to a wonderful reception. We should also thank El Silencio Mezcal and Trefethen wine for mixing and pouring some great drinks at the reception!
SS: Tell us about the car you drove to Rennsport Reunion V?
HC: We obviously needed a car with Momo parts, so we went through the list of current project cars, and top of our list was the Liberty Walk 997 Porsche 911 Turbo. The widebody car was a real head-turner, especially in its grey and yellow color scheme, which really made the Momo branding stand out. With the majority of Porsches on the rally being older, it was nice to have something like this to give it some balance. Plus we needed to give Super Street a ride! LT Motorwerks in El Monte got the car rally ready in a matter of hours for us - thanks to LT for the work, and Marc for loaning us the car!
SS: What was your favorite car on the rally?
HC: It was the Liberty Walk 997 from Five Nine Design. It was equally as cool as the LT Motorwerks 997 but I really liked the classic Brumos Racing livery. They managed to make the wrap look faded, which was a nice touch for the Rennsport Reunion.
SS: Tell us about the Momo Magnus Walker steering wheel
HC: We are very proud of the new Momo Magnus Walker Signature Series steering wheels. The series dates back to the 1960s and has included some great names in racing. When we decided to collaborate with Magnus, it turns out that he collects the original wheels and was very excited to be involved. One of his primary concerns was that the new wheel would "feel" right. He wanted to give it patina, a sense of having history and relevance, even though it would be brand new. As a result, the Momo designers were able to use distressed leather on the rim to make it look and feel the way Magnus wanted - the rougher surface also gives the driver a firm grip on the rim. The rim itself was another priority for Magnus. He requested a thicker grip and was rewarded with a rim that replicates some of the characteristics of the original Momo Jackie Stewart Signature Series steering wheel. A Magnus Walker-designed Urban Outlaw horn push, designed several years ago in the hope that he might one day have a use for it, completes the package. The wheel is available with either silver or black spokes and we are very proud of the finished product, which is only available to order through magnuswalker.momo.com.
SS: What does the future hold for Momo?
HC: The company has an amazing heritage in terms of its motorsport origins, top-quality products, innovation and OEM partnerships. So we want to return Momo to where it was positioned. To do this, we're developing the current line of product with a new line of cutting-edge road car products. We will be launching new products that will combine our Italian design with the latest manufacturing technology. We will also continue to test our products in motorsport whenever possible. This year we competed successfully in the Pirelli World Challenge, but 2016 will see Momo expand our motorsport partnerships in North America into many more diverse racing series, such as drift, and even in the dirt. As we expand our road car product range, we need more feedback from various forms of motorsport to help develop a broader range. And finally Momo is all about automotive passion, so we want everyone who loves cars and motorsports to follow us on social as we will continue to release exciting original content documenting our journeys on and off track!
SS: Will there be more Momo rallies?
HC: Of course. You can't do something that was this fun just once!
INTERVIEW WITH MAGNUS WALKER
SS: How did your relationship with Momo begin?
MW: I met Henrique, the owner of Momo, when he visited my garage during the Long Beach GP in April of 2015. A conversation was struck up about my passion for Momo wheels, especially the vintage kind. From that conversation the steering wheel collaboration was born. It was that simple
SS: Tell us about the car you drove.
MW: I drove my favorite car. The car no. 277, my 1971 Porsche 911, the car I'm most associated with.
SS: How did you get your car fixed in time for the rally?
MW: Well, I often say, "Where there is a will, there is a way!" If they can put a man on the moon, how hard can it be to fix a car in 21 days? McKenna Porsche did the structural repair work and then my crew of guys including Matt Brown for paint and Frank Turner for body did the rest. We even got the door and the bumper to fit better than before.
SS: How was your driving experience on the rally?
MW: With over 75 Porsches and 100 fellow passionate Porsche enthusiasts the rally experience was awesome. We took the 450-mile scenic route to Laguna Seca via Willow Springs International Raceway and over the hills. Only 60 miles were on the freeway.
SS: Tell us about the Magnus Walker steering wheel.
MW: My Momo wheel is a combination of my two favorite Momo wheels-the Jackie Stewart and Protipo combined. It has a thicker grip and hand distressed leather to give it a vintage patina and look. I am super excited and honored to have my own signature Momo steering wheel, especially as its the first time in the 50 years of Momo history that they have done a signature wheel with a non professional race car driver.
SS: What was your favorite car on the rally? My favorite car on the rally was my buddy Harris Snodgrass 991 liberty walk wide body Brumos tribute car, no. 59.