This year marks the 50th season for IMSA, the International Motor Sports Association racing series, which ends its season every year with the Petit Le Mans race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, sponsored by Motul. To celebrate that golden anniversary as well as a local Atlanta institution, Porsche will be running two 911 RSR racers in this year’s edition of the 10-hour endurance race, wearing the same “Coke is it!” livery as the Coca-Cola-sponsored Porsche 962 that won the 12-hour endurance race at Sebring in 1986. The Coca-Cola corporation is headquartered in Atlanta, as is Porsche Cars North America.
The cars are also a tribute to the late Bob Akin, who first put Porsche and Coca-Cola together to great success with the 935 and 962 racers.
The Bob Akin Motor Racing team ran Coke-liveried Porsches for seven years in the 1980s. The Coca-Cola red cars that Porsche will be running in the GTLM class at this year’s Petit Le Mans affair carry the same Coke wave graphic—which the soft drink company calls the “dynamic ribbon”—as the Akin cars did back then, along with the classic “Coca-Cola” script logo on the hood and “Coke is it!” on the cars’ rear haunches. As with the Akin 962, the red cars will be riding on white BBS wheels, completing the traditional Coca-Cola color scheme.
Wearing numbers 911 and 912 for the race, the only differences between the two cars other than their number plates is that #911, driven by Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, and Frédéric Makowiecki, has a black-on-white “Porsche” windshield banner, while #912’s version of the period-correct banner is white-on-black. That car will be driven in the race by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, and Mathieu Jaminet.
Besides being located in the same city, both Porsche and Coke have a history of iconic shapes. Coca-Cola’s “contour” bottle has been immediately identifiable since it was introduced over a century ago, and the latest 911 still carries the basic sketch lines of the first Porsche-branded automobile.
Road Atlanta also has a long connection to Coca-Cola. Arthur Montgomery Jr., the president of the local Atlanta Coca-Cola bottling company, was one of the Braselton, Georgia track’s financial backers when it first opened in 1970, and for many years the track’s observation tower and media center carried Coke branding.
The red 911 RSRs are the latest Porsches to wear heritage liveries to celebrate IMSA’s 50th birthday. Porsche closed out last year’s season at Petit Le Mans with its 911s in vintage Mobil 1 colors, and the cars started this year’s season with the same red, white, and blue livery that Hurley Haywood’s Brumos Racing 911s carried back in their day.
This year’s Petit Le Mans will be run at Road Atlanta on the weekend of October 9–12.