Back in the early 90's a Porsche enthusiast friend passed me a VHS video copy of the classic film of the 1987 RUF Yellowbird lap of the Nordschleife Nurburgring. Now if you are a younger reader you may not fully appreciate that before the internet,You Tube and digital the VHS magnetic tape cassette -or if you were in a small minority the Sony Beta cassette -was the way videos were passed around.
The VHS cassette was a flawed device as the magnetic tape travelled a convoluted path and easily got snagged.The Sony Beta cassette was a better system but Sony played their cards too close to their chest and the VHS system became almost universally adopted as it was "open source". Repeated viewings of VHS and Sony cassettes resulted in wear of the tape and a fall off in image quality. Both systems also suffered from the problem of magnetic print through where the magnetic imprint on one layer of the tape transferred through to the layer below over time. The longer the tape,the thinner the tape and the more print through occured.
An analogue copy of any medium-film,audio or video always loses some quality-each generation copy is worse than the one before. My VHS copy of Yellowbird was far removed from its parent so it was more than a little fuzzy.
Nonetheless like so many others I found the video spectacular.
Ruf,the legendary Porsche tuner,has now released the video onto You Tube.This version is still not HD-it was after all shot on film nearly 30 years ago and it has suffered wear and deterioration.You can see it here RUF YELLOWBIRD.
There are other versions of the video on You Tube but they are not as good quality as the RUF version.
Nearly 30 years on the lap is still spectacular.The driver was RUF's test driver,Stefan Roser. Note the slim hips of the car,the lack of added aero devices and the standard steering wheel. The driver is in a short sleeved shirt,with no gloves nor a crash helmet. And it is not even a closed track. Those were the days. His car control is just extraordinary and he was driving on tyres which were so different to today's-hence the wonderful slides.
When I bought my 911 2.7 in 2001 my first thought when I saw it was "Yellowbird". Sadly it is not a RUF-it is in a totally different horepower league to the RUF car and I am most certainly not Stefan Roser but that does not mean that I did not try to emulate him-at least in my imagination.
The photo is me in my Yellowbird at the Huntley Hillclimb in NSW in 2004. I seem to recollect that I won my class and a plastic trophy that day although I admit the competition was pretty ordinary.The Huntley Hillclimb near Dapto south of Sydney is a charming venue. At 34 seconds for the climb it is hardly the Nordschleife though.
The photo was shot on my Leica Digilux 1 by a friend. Not bad quality for what was a very early digital sensor and a very basic in camera processor.