When it comes to pilgrims (in the John Wayne sense), they don’t come much more down to earth than the passionate members of that early Porsche 911 hot rod club named R Gruppe.

The club’s foundations trace back to 1998 when Freeman Thomas of So Cal (modified Tangerine 1969 911E) called Cris Huergas of Nor Cal (modified Light Ivory 1969 911S). Huergas’ 911 had just been published in Excellence Magazine (#76 April ’98), and Thomas was inspired to contact him.

They talked at length about how the Porsche factory had prepared its cars in the late ’60s and early ’70s for sports purposes, and how several California owners were now doing the same thing today.

Their first meeting took place at the Muckenthaler Car Show in Orange County in May 1999. Immediately after the event, Thomas, Huergas, and several like-minded individuals gathered at Mike Mescaro’s garage in Thousand Oaks. It was decided then and there that the club would be called “R Gruppe”, based on the 1967/1968 sports purpose Porsche 911R and the “our group” inference.

Kevin Beard immediately began designing a slide valve 911 flat six club logo incorporating the colors of Tangerine, Light Ivory, Light Silver, and Slate Gray (the color of the Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” 911S). The fire was lit.

The inaugural R Gruppe “North Meets South” event came to the sleepy coastal town of Cambria twelve months later in May 2000. Over 50 early 911 hot rods showed up even though it was not publicized. I am honored to say I was there and have attended every event since.

I am thankful for the friends I have made while a member of this club over the past dozen years. My life would not be the same without you. Thanks to everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

(Top Photo: Mukenthaler Meet 1999 by Cris Huergas. Visible are Freeman Thomas, Rolly Resos, Kevin Beard, Gary Williams, and Gary Schutz, as well as Thomas’ ‘69 911, Huergas’ ‘69 911, and Chuck Miller’s ‘73 911).