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911 Dakar Owners Club – Probably the coolest car club in the world

05.04.2024 By Richard Lindhorst
911 Dakar Owners Club – Probably the coolest car club in the world

At the end of 2022, Porsche presented the 911 Dakar. The primary purpose for this off-road prepared 911, limited to 2,500 units, is simple: fun! And it turned out that the Dakar was exactly that for its prospective buyers. This is why Hans van de Ven and Niels Schoenmakers came up with the idea of founding the 911 Dakar Owners Club. A community that organizes adventures with the most versatile Porsche 911 of all time. We spoke to Vice President Niels Schoenmakers about club life and the ideas behind what is probably the world’s most exclusive car owners club. 

Founded to explore the world together – The 911 Dakar Owners Club

Hans Van de Ven and Niels Schoenmakers are genuine Porsche freaks. The duo has been Porsche’s external event partner for the Benelux region for over ten years now. Van de Ven was even responsible for the organization of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux for several years. Niels Schoenmakers is a passionate rally driver and bought his first Porsche at the age of 25 – a 997 GT3. 

“Thanks to the event cooperation with Porsche, we have a very close connection to the brand and a large international network,” explains Schoenmakers. In 2022, the event professionals received an allocation for one of the coveted 2,500 Porsche 911 Dakars. Several other buyers quickly contacted Schoenmakers. The question was always the same: “Will you organize events for the 911 Dakar?”

The 911 is the only car in which you can drive from an African safari to Le Mans, then to the theater and then onto the streets of New York.

Ferry Porsche

The duo quickly realized: Porsche 911 Dakar buyers want to use their cars the way Porsche intended. They want to experience adventures and drive off-road in the 911. “We felt the same way ourselves. Mud and dirt are our thing. After the launch of the 911 Dakar, we thought it would be just the right car for us.” So the two event specialists founded the 911 Dakar Owners Club together with various Porsche specialists, collectors and even Dakar racing driver Erik van Loon. “The intention is to explore the world together with our members.” 

The 911 Dakar Rally at the Petrolhead Sunday will be the first club meeting

So the focus is not simply on organizing Cars & Coffee meetings with 911 Dakars. Instead, Niels Schoenmakers talks about certain ingredients that should always be on offer. Events for members of the 911 Dakar Owners Club should therefore always include a bit of off-road driving or a special location with a connection to the Paris-Dakar Rally. 

Their mission to bring together like-minded Porsche freaks with off-road ambitions starts on June 16, 2024. Then, the 911 Dakar Rally takes place as part of the Petrolhead Sunday in Zolder, Belgium. “We’re going on an adventurous road trip, roughly 100 kilometers around the former Formula 1 circuit in Zolder,” says Schoenmakers. Via public country roads and some off-road sections, 911 Dakar owners can get to know the most beautiful routes in Limburg. 

“When the 911 Dakar was delivered, we had a protective film applied and drove straight from the racetrack into the dirt and mud next to it.”

Niels Schoenmakers, 911 Dakar Owners Club

Schoenmakers himself tests the routes in the 911 Dakar. “We try all routes for 911 Dakar Owners Club events with our own Dakar. This is how we create challenging experiences for the participants within the limits of the car.” With this approach, the 911 Dakar Owners Club wants to guarantee the greatest possible driving pleasure for all participants without endangering the valuable cars. 

The 911 Dakar Owners Club already has more than 100 active members all over the world

Niels Schoenmakers realized shortly after the presentation that the circle of owners for the Porsche 911 Dakar is a special one. “I’ve never experienced the hype around a new vehicle being so lively and active,” Niels was surprised. For many people, the Dakar in itself is more of an opportunity to tell their own story than just a car. “One 911 Dakar driver, for example, told me that for him the Dakar completes the circle that began with his Paris-Dakar participation in the 1980s. Another one has 97 as the starting number on the door because a friend of his took part that year.”

For all 2,500 owners i’d love to know why they bought it, because all the stories so far have been so interesting!

Niels Schoenmakers, 911 Dakar Owners Club

“As the 911 Dakar is so easy to customize, it’s very interesting to see how and why the owners opted for their specifications. While people think a lot about the resale value of a 911 GT3, the 911 Dakar is not about rational but emotional decisions. I don’t know of any other road car where buyers like to have three different colors and a race number on the car.” Schoenmakers has mentions Cayennes with roof racks wrapped to match the Dakar. There are now even matching downhill skis in the Rothmans design. 

Over 100 active members from the group are already registered in the 911 Dakar Owners Club. More than 250 others are in contact with the organizers. Over 400 vehicles are already listed in the 911 Dakar Owners Club registry. Most of the members come from Belgium, the USA and Germany. “The tenth member of the 911 Dakar Owners Club comes from Hong Kong. There are also members from Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Paraguay and the Philippines,” reports Schoenmakers proudly. 

The 911 Dakar Owners Club is of course also going to Goodwood

Van de Ven and Schoenmakers already have a few other destinations in mind. The next fixed date will be the Goodwood Festival of Speed. From 10 to 15 July, the 911 Dakar Owners Club is organizing a varied rally starting in Knokke, Belgium. The route leads via Brooklands to Goodwood. VIP tickets for the Festival of Speed await the participants there. 

In 2025, for example, the 911 Dakar Owners Club is aiming to take part in the FAT Ice Race in Zell am See. But routes in Italy and Spain are also on the list. Schoenmaker’s dream: “A rally through Tuscany completely without asphalt roads! There is a similar route in Spain. Of course, we’ll take a close look at that too.”

Porsche 911 Dakar Owners Club

Anyone who thought that the 911 Dakar would be just another exclusive Porsche for collectors is mistaken. The 911 Dakar Owners Club shows that buyers want to experience proper, muddy adventures with their cars.

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How many Porsche 911 Dakar cars will be built in total?

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