Charity, Artwork, Lucha Libre, Porsche: This Is Tejas Treffpunkt
Photography by Chris Siebenaler
Houston has had a crazy year. From a hurricane of historic proportion to its baseball team winning the World Series for the first time in franchise history, the city has ridden an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. Last week, it also played host to an event called Tejas Treffpunkt.
The gathering of old Porsches has a funny name, which its founders claim is a real German word, though Treffpunkt has a serious mission along with a uniquely Texan feel; it’s casual, charitable, larger than most. It isn’t the biggest out there though, and though Houston may be the fourth most populous city in America, it also has an endearing underdog attitude.
On a Friday in mid-November, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with anything in the city, even though it was hard hit by a hurricane some three months prior. And everything from the pre-A 356s to today’s 911 GT3s proudly pop their rear lids to show off flat-fours and sixes like a cheerily defiant salute to those who thought the idea wouldn’t work.
The night before the main event, Houston natives begin welcoming their out-of-town friends at an informal barbecue at Porsche specialty shop Modern Aircooled. The atmosphere is laid-back and people-oriented, with beers flowing freely, famous Texas food for all, and casual access to the kind of garage space where you might set your drink down on a hydraulic lift or the massive wing of a Cayman race car—the same welcoming familiar atmosphere as all of my favorite memories of hanging out at a friend’s garage after work.
And Tejas Treffpunkt’s founders are a charming and unassuming bunch. They are all known to throw the keys to their extraordinary cars to friends of friends on a whim, and they are just as excited to see my dog Hank as they are to talk about the latest cars being restored by Singer. Their tastes are varied as their ages and backgrounds, and their ethos embodies Houston’s standing as the most international city in the United States. Treffpunkt embraces it all too; a German name for a group of German cars, a lucha libre wrestling ring, a taco truck, and all sorts of people mingle among art installations at the Spring Street Studios venue. There are gritty industrial surroundings, modern condos, a bustling pedestrian/bike trail, plenty of parking, and a gorgeous interior space that juxtaposes multimedia artwork with their automotive counterparts.
When Hank and I arrive and make our charitable donation to enter, we are almost immediately greeted by old friends and digital acquaintances alike, and we quickly fall into conversation about cars and everything else—before I know it, we’re sitting on a picnic blanket swapping stories. To my left, a hand-painted Boxster art car provides shade. To my right, the loading bay of the studio building provides a glimpse of Porsche factory race cars. The off-kilter burble of horizontally-opposed motors ebbs and flows in the background as people fire up their cars for onlookers or head out on mid-day coffee runs. Hollering and laughter echoes across the parking lot from the wrestling ring, which some of the event founders suit up for. There’s nothing quite like one of the world’s foremost 993 collectors body-checking a friend in colorful spandex.
Even though the ground we are standing on was recently under floodwater, there is no sense of melancholy to be found. The admission coffers are brimming with donations benefitting the Houston Food Bank and the Snowdrop Foundation, which provides scholarships to survivors of pediatric cancer.
I am a native Texan, though I spent the previous four months in rural Alaska living out of an old Land Cruiser (which you can read about here) far away from a bustling urban core like downtown Houston, and even farther from thoughts of quirky sports cars. In fact I first found out about Hurricane Harvey at a gas station in the Yukon Territory, where a concerned Canadian saw my license plate and asked if my family was alright. It was difficult to be so far away from home while hearing secondhand news of the devastation all along the Gulf Coast.
So it was hugely restorative to attend Tejas Treffpunkt, to see friends who weathered the storm together, to create a day of charitable giving around an event that fostered community in such an energetic and enthusiastic environment. Any doubts I had about my ability to enjoy sports cars after a season of ascetic isolationism in the Arctic Circle were immediately erased once I arrived. There’s something about seeing a diverse collection of related automobiles, especially when the people behind them are so enjoyable and memorable in their own right.
If one old Porsche is worth stopping for and admiring, then seeing hundreds of them in one place stirs at even the rustiest, most frozen old bolts deep in the heart. And seeing my old car in such loving hands with its new owner reminded me of the great, intangible passion that binds us together. Many of the faces at the second year of Tejas Treffpunkt were genuine friends who updated me on their families, their homes, their jobs, and if there was time, their cars.
At the Sunday barbecue hosted by the lovable and generous Rudy Mancinas the following day, one could enjoy handmade tacos surrounded by a literal rainbow of Porsches, especially his preferred 993 series. On the other side of the garage, a few of his BMW 2002s still bore their custom hood magnets with the Houston Astros logo. A football game played on TV, kids frolicked, and people enjoyed the gorgeous Sunday weather. It was as nice a weekend as anyone could dream of. And the most remarkable part of it was its friendly normalcy. Amid the supercars and disaster relief efforts and remnants of the Astros’ World Series parade, we enjoyed the excuse to gather in Houston and celebrate the human spirit and the great contrarians who prove skeptics wrong every day.