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Cruisn’ USA in a Porsche 997 GT3 RS – Ortrun & Christian Hartinger

16.02.2024 By Richard Lindhorst
Cruisn’ USA in a Porsche 997 GT3 RS – Ortrun & Christian Hartinger

The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is generally regarded as the most hardcore road legal Porsche in Zuffenhausen’s entire model range. Presumably, very few people think of it as their first choice for a road trip across the USA. For Christian Hartinger and his wife Ortrun, however, it was the only choice. They love the Porsche 997.2 GT3 RS so much that they both have their own. In a very interesting conversation, Christian told me how they came up with the idea of traveling the USA in their GT3 RS Twins, as they call their cars.

What do our users need to know about you, dear Christian Hartinger? Please introduce yourself briefly!

I was born in 1967 in the eastern Bavaria. I graduated in architecture in 1991 and moved to the east of the still young Federal Republic of Germany. It was there that I met my current wife Ortrun at a Porsche Club meeting in 2010. I still remember it clearly. Back then, it was rumored that a woman who drives two Porsches was coming to the meeting. Today we live together with our twins, the blue and the white 997 GT3 RS. (laughs)

In 2022, I had the idea of sitting down once a month in the Carrera Café at the Porsche factory in Leipzig and having a coffee and a chat with any Porsche driver who dropped by, regardless of club life. This gave rise to It is now a permanent fixture for active Porsche drivers in the region.

How did you both become Porsche enthusiasts? Where and how did it all start?

Ortrun’s story began in the GDR. She was born and grew up there. She once found a Matchbox car in the sandpit at a playground. It was a car she had never seen before. She liked it and took it with her. Then she asked her mother what kind of car it was. She told her that it was a Porsche, but that she would never be able to drive a car like that. That would probably have remained impossible in the GDR. But Ortrun just said: “I like it, I’ll drive it some day”.

She actually wanted to study medicine, but politics prevented her from doing so. Instead, she “chose” pharmacy. After the political change, she set up her own business as a pharmacist and in the early 2000s, she fulfilled her dream. Her first Porsche was a black 996 Carrera 4S. Since then, she has driven a 997 Turbo and now also a 997.2 GT3 RS.

Christian Hartinger Porsche 997 GT3 RS Twins
Since Christian Hartinger didn’t want to be a passenger in his own RS all the time, Ortrun bought her own without further ado. © Christian Hartinger

For me, it was the playing cards. In the top trumps games, the Porsche 930 Turbo was always the fastest, always the best. It was probably inevitable that I would need something like that at some point. But I grew up near Regensburg. Walter Röhrl and his successes in the World Rally Championship made me a huge Audi fan.

How did you get back on track?

It really started in 2001. That’s when I came to my senses and started thinking about buying my first Porsche. A few years later, I wanted to buy a Porsche 996 . I went into the Porsche Center with shaky knees. I walked out with a signed contract for a 997. It was one of the first Porsche 997 Carrera 2s to be delivered. By then it was clear that there was nothing else out there for me.

A few months later, I had to come back to change to winter tires. I was given a 997 Carrera S as a loan car and it was clear that I needed a new Porsche again. So a few years later – of course – I got a Porsche 997 Carrera S.

Today you both drive your own Porsche 997.2 GT3 RS. How did this constellation come about?

It started around 2010, when we were preparing for our wedding. Ortrun came to me and said it was time for a real car. We saw a 997 GT3 RS at the Porsche Center Stuttgart and we were hooked. When you turn the car on, it shakes. Everything was just right for me in the RS. Sat in it, arrived, mine. I then bought the white one in 2012 and it became our wedding car.

My wife then wanted to drive the GT3 RS again and again. But I didn’t always want to share. So at some point she defiantly said: “Then I’ll just buy my own”. In 2014, I sent her the link to the blue one by email. Her reply was very blunt. She only wrote one sentence back. “I’ve fallen in love again”. She bought her own RS and our little family has been complete ever since. Even if someone puts eight-figure sums on the table, we won’t give these cars away again.

Where did the idea for your incredible trip to America with the RS Twins come from?

This is where my friend Erwin Pfeiffer comes in. He is on the board of the Porsche Club Germany and is responsible for tours, events and much more. He gave us the idea of visiting the Porsche Parade of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) with our cars. This is THE annual highlight for the American club members with around 1,500 Porsche vehicles. However, given the effort involved in shipping his car to America in the first place, it quickly became clear that we should plan much more time than just a few weeks.

Although they didn’t reach all the planned destinations on their first trip to the USA, they made up for their longing for places like Arches Park and Lake Powell. © Christian Hartinger

What exactly did the planning for the trip look like? What did you want to see?

The idea of “just” visiting the Porsche Parade became more and more. We planned a trip to the Werks Reunion Amelia Island in 2020 and also wanted to see the Werks Reunion in Monterey. As we are Porsche enthusiasts, we planned our trip very differently than regular tourists would. We deliberately skipped the classic tourist spots and national parks. Instead, the aim was to plan in all the Porsche events we could find. I registered us everywhere. The plan was a maximum of one year. Because the cars don’t get “visas” for the USA for longer than that.

The Twins’ planned route was over 18,000 miles.

So it was off across the pond. We started our GT3-RS-Twin-Tours in Miami at the end of February 2020. The first big destination was the Werks Reunion on March 6, 2020. The program promised 600 Porsches! Before we arrived, we had already driven several thousand miles. I knew that we wouldn’t win any prizes at the Concours. But we had our eye on the prize for the longest journey. The event was so crazy. A 911 GT3 RS is something special in itself. Put two of them with German license plates at the Werks Reunion and you can’t get away from your own cars.

We saw no more than 30 other cars at the event. It was impossible to have some time to look around. All kinds of people knew us from somewhere and wanted to talk to us. It was unbelievable. At some point, we were told to come to the stage because we had won a prize. To our great surprise, it wasn’t for the longest journey. For the first time ever, the prize in the “Best Story” category was awarded to two cars. We were completely flabbergasted.

After that, things didn’t go quite as smoothly… What problems did you encounter?

We had booked return flights to Germany for shortly after Werks Reunion. Because we were only traveling, we hadn’t really noticed anything about Covid. We made our way to Atlanta Airport. The whole airport was empty! At check-in, I thought there had been a nuclear strike!

At check-in, I thought there had been a nuclear strike!

Christian Hartinger

After that, a pretty difficult time began. We came back to Germany, but there was no way back to the USA! It took a few months before the borders were reopened. But we had to get very creative. Because we were told that you could only enter the USA if you hadn’t been to Europe in the two weeks beforehand. There was no other option, not even with a subsequent quarantine or similar. No way!

What was the solution?

We started looking for a country where we could enter as Europeans without quarantine and from where we could travel on to the USA. The first idea was Burkina Faso, but that wasn’t possible. It turned out that Costa Rica was the only country that allowed us to enter the USA afterwards without quarantine. We had already been there for our honeymoon in 2012, so it was an obvious choice.

We therefore decided to repeat our honeymoon so that we could see the cars again as soon as possible. On Boxing Day 2020, we flew to Costa Rica, to the same hotel as on our honeymoon. New Year’s Eve was a very strange feeling. We were in the warmth, enjoying the view and while nothing was working in Germany and most people couldn’t even see their families.

Where did we go next? And wasn’t there something else about the car visas?

Yes, the car visas were indeed a problem. The cars would actually have had to return to Germany in February 2021. But through a contact in the USA, we got a tip that you can get a ten-month extension under certain conditions. Our friends helped us with this and we gained a lot more time.

Christian Hartinger Porsche 997 GT3 RS Twins Pikes Peak
Following Walter Röhrl’s footsteps – the Hartingers even drove up Pikes Peak in their Porsche 997.2 GT3 RS. © Christian Hartinger

At the top of our list was to meet Brenda and Ross Spence. The two of them told a great story about their first drive together in a Porsche on the Tail of the Dragon. This is a section of Highway 129 in North Carolina. I got in touch via social media. We wrote back and forth a little and they invited us to their place. Without ever having met before, we drove straight from Atlanta to their place.

You now have a second home.

We arrived in the evening, it was already dark. Brenda and Ross welcomed us like friends who had known each other forever. There was a sign in the kitchen saying “Welcome Twins” and they shared their home with us. The next morning we drove to the Tail of the Dragon together. When we said goodbye to them, they said to us: “You now have a second home. Whenever you come back, you are welcome!”. It was an incredibly great experience.

You are on tour again this year. This time with the jade green Speedster and the white RS. How did the cars perform during the trip? You must have covered quite a few miles.

You know what brand we drive? (laughs) Both Porsches run like clockwork. Apart from the regular annual service and a problem with the lift axle, there was nothing at all. A nail was driven into the tire once during storage. But that’s it. The cars run brilliantly. The white one now has 70,000 miles and the blue one 40,000 miles. Our light green Speedster, which we got in 2020, now also has over 30,000 miles on the clock.

We were on the road with them in the Miami rush hour, in the desert at over 40°C, on the Laguna Seca race track and even emulated Walter Röhrl and drove up Pike’s Peak. The engines don’t even use oil between changes! Driving them across the USA has been a flawless experience.

What would you recommend to people who are planning something similar?

It is important to set yourself an approximate goal every day. You don’t have to plan everything down to the last detail. I’m certainly more flexible in between, but you lose yourself if you don’t set yourself intermediate goals.

Do you have any other destinations you would like to travel to with the Twins?

After 2020/2021, it was clear to me that the cars would not be coming back to Germany permanently. We are in the great situation of being able to work a lot on the road – despite the time difference. That’s why we still have a few dreams. If I think really crazy, I can imagine driving down the Panamericana, which connects Alaska with Tierra del Fuego. Or the Targa Tasmania in New Zealand. The journey is the reward and the journey is not over yet. I can promise you this much.

The story of Christian & Ortrun Hartinger with their 997 GT3 RS Twins shows just how much joy a Porsche can give you if you enjoy it to the full in the wild.

© Christian Hartinger

Meet our contributor

Richard Lindhorst is our chief-editor and lives in Northern Germany. He thinks about cars and bikes almost 24/7. If you’ve got a story for him, or just want to get in touch, feel free to contact him on his Instagram (@rchrdlndhrst).

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