Riding shotgun with Porsche 356 racer, Ron Goodman

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Riding shotgun with Porsche 356 racer, Ron Goodman

If you have had the chance to ride in your ultimate dream car, you will know the thrill and joy will never leave you. Well, my time came at MotorWorld Sydney recently, and I still have a grin from ear to ear.

Australian vintage racing driver, Ron Goodman, made an appearance at the festival with his huge truck that carried a line-up of classic Porsches.

Featured was a blue 1955 356 Speedster, 2 grey racing 356’s, a 911 Cabriolet, a red 914 with a cool Porsche advertising wrap along with an Alfa Romeo and Fiat Abarth thrown into the mix. Being a fan of the work by Ferdinand Porsche myself, it was fair to say I was immediately drawn to them.

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Having recently acquired a 356 replica and yet never, somewhat surprisingly, having sat in a real 356, I was comparing every detail of the blue Speedster and admiring its curvy lines and simple engineering.

Little did I know, Ron, who was watching from afar, could see I took a liking to his cars and asked if I would like a ride in it around the track. Trying to hide my excitement, I eagerly agreed.

So, with voice recorder in hand, and wearing a Ron Goodman Racing shirt that was given to me by the man himself, I eagerly and slowly flopped into the low-slung car with immaculate red leather seats.

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Ron lived and breathed racing long before I was born. His first passion was NASCAR and he raced them for many years, narrowly avoiding death in the ’90s when his car, with a full tank of fuel, slammed into the wall and burst into flames.

From then on, he moved onto a car that he’s loved since he was 10 – the first production Porsche – a 356. He’s never looked back.

“It’s been the absolutely best thing I’ve ever done,” grins Ron, as he starts pushing the 356 with its 1500cc engine around the track. “If I drive my 914 or 911, and it goes fast, people expect it to be fast. A 356 being fast, people don’t expect it.”

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Ron speaks about these cars with a glint in his eye. He loves talking about Porsches and sharing his passion with others.

It’s something he gets to do every day as the owner of Exclusive Body Werks in Western Sydney. It is where he and his team work tirelessly on his race cars, perfecting every part and every detail.

“We’re thinking outside the box to make them fast. Because we’re taking these cars to the limit, unfortunately we have a lot of engine and transmission failures. And all the components are 50 years old and are not used to being revved 8000 to 9000rpm,” describes Ron.

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Pointing to the tachometer, Ron explains, “we’re going around here 3000rpm and sticking to the speed limit (100km/h).”

Ron is hugely respected in the world of vintage racing, often beating million-dollar supercars like the Ferrari 250 GTO on the track.

“Without liking to blow our own trumpet, we’re actually the world leaders. We’ve been told we’ve got the fastest 356 in the world by the Americans”.

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As we glide through Sydney Motorsport Park’s S-bends, the Speedster’s third gear crunches.

“Poor old gearbox doesn’t like it. It’s saying to me what the hell are you doing to me!” Ron chuckles. “These old girls – when they’re not built for racing, they’ve gotta be caressed a bit.”

A dream of Ron’s was to race his 1954 356 at one of the biggest events on the vintage racing calendar, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway.

To document his adventure, he took a film crew with him, and the resulting movie, The Road to Monterey, was awarded gold at the 2015 Autovision film festival in Frankfurt, Germany.

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He’s had many heartbreaks and close calls with his Porsches, with one of them unfolding during the filming the movie.

“The previous year the car actually got lost in New Zealand, so we thought we would emulate it. We didn’t have to, they (shipping company) lost the car again on us”, Ron says.

But it was only for a short time. “It arrived like five hours before we had to go on the track.”

As the pit area draws closer, one lap around Sydney Motorsport Park was not long enough. Ron slows down the 356, which he restored for a friend a decade ago, and looks over to see me beaming.

“You look very happy!”

Yep.

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If you have dreamt about that one special car that you wish to own one day, never let that dream fade. If you get the chance to experience being a passenger, absorb every single moment. I sure did, and I will never forget it.

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