It has now been almost five years since we arranged to meet the man behind the Instagram account 996roadtrip for the Elferspot Porsche Talk. His name is Brock Keen. In the meantime, Brock has become something of an Internet phenomenon. He takes his Porsche 996 Carrera 4S on road trips. He installed a roof tent and does road trips for camping with his wife and dog, sleeping in a roof tent. We asked him how his life has changed since his story went around the world. After all, he’s the reason Porsche now offers a roof tent through Porsche Tequipment.
You know, I couldn’t believe it at first when I heard that Oliver Blume was camping in a 911 with a roof tent at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s completely surreal for me. For a long time I also tried to deny it, but just the thought I might have a big part in influencing a multi-billion carmaker to produce roof tents is just crazy.
A follower sent me a photo of the Le Mans Classic campsite the other day. There was a separate roof tent section there! Unbelievable. I never did any of this for “likes”. 996roadtrip was created simply for fun and enjoyment and to mix my favorite passions together.
It’s been a change, for sure. But I still feel totally normal, even though it’s kind of a small insta-celebrity life. It’s cool, but on the other side it’s sometimes scary. There was a pretty memorable situation after a road trip for Porsche where we put a canoe on the roof of a 992 Carrera GTS and explored the Adirondacks Mountains and Lakes for a week.
We flew back to Oregon from New York and stopped at our favorite restaurant on the way home. The waiter said to me that he thought my hat was cool. It was all good. Then the next time he came to the table he said to me “You’re 996roadtrip right?”. That’s happening more and more often and it’s kind of crazy and still surreal to me.
At SEMA in November, it was even crazier. I was there hanging out, having a good time. An advertising partner had printed out hundreds of posters of my car and handed them out to the people. A visitor recognized me and asked if I could sign the poster. That first signature turned into a line of people waiting for the same thing. That was about the most unreal thing that ever happened to me. I’m not that big of a deal, just a normal guy doing what I love. I was really honored by him and everyone else wanting an autograph, but these situations still feel very surreal and a bit weird.
That was about the most unreal thing that ever happened to me. I’m not that big of a deal, just a normal guy doing what I love.Brock Keen on a situation, where fans queued for his autograph at SEMA
Sara often says we should move and live more in a more private location. When I wash my cars in the driveway, every now and then people come by, stop to talk and take a few pictures. So far, everyone has always been very friendly. Still, it’s also a little unnerving to be out in the open like this.
However my wife definitely will keep me grounded if I ever start acting like someone I’m not. I always tell her that she should definitely give me a hard time if I ever say something out of line. Fortunately, she hasn’t had to intervene yet. No matter what, I always try to remain who I’ve always been, stay humble.
The last four or five years have been a wild journey. It started with a big camping tour and has since turned into my own production company. In late 2019, Porsche Classic approached me about creating some user-generated content for the then new Porsche Classic Communication Management Plus (PCCM+). This turned into a major collaboration and a very successful video production.
Last year, Porsche invited me to come over to Zuffenhausen and document a road trip to the Le Mans Classic race. For four days we drove a Porsche Taycan Cross Turimso with a Prototype Porsche Roof Tent through the Black Forest and across France to LeMans it was incredible. Over the last four years my life went from touring the Pacific Northwest region to traveling the whole world!
Most recently, I was in Stuttgart for Porsche’s 75th brand anniversary. Porsche invited me to an exclusive event at the museum. I even got to meet the Porsche family there. I would never have dreamed of such a thing. That was a great honor and a huge experience overall.
The decision was quite spontaneous to stay in Europe with the Sickalps family after the 75th anniversary. Since it was so last minute I hadn’t organized a loaner car from Porsche I decided to reach out to my followers via Instagram. I asked if someone could help me with a loaner 911 for the rally. A follower from Prague almost immediately contacted me and offered me his Porsche 993 Carrera S for the trip.
So while my team drove the camera car to Zell am See, I flew to Prague, a place I had never been before, so I had no idea what to expect. The communication was a bit dodgy and scary. An Instagram follower I had never met was offering me his very nice aircooled 993 for a roadtrip across multiple countries. What could go wrong? I got off the jet, hailed a taxi and went to the address I was given to pick up the car. I have to admit I was a little nervous this was going to be a joke but as soon as I heard a Porsche 993 approaching i knew this is actually real!
I was standing there and saw this Porsche 993 in silver over black leather. It was a very nice car… However, the guy who “delivered” the car was not the one I was in contact with on Instagram. It was a “friend” of his. At that moment, the thought crossed my mind that maybe this 993 was stolen and I was being used to transport it to another country. But the worry was completely unfounded. The car was fantastic. It was everything that is loved about the 993 generation, the sounds, the smells and the way it handled. The first kilometers out of the city were really fun.
There was no one there, the situation was spooky as I was in a country I’d never been in and no one I’d met so far spoke English.Brock Keen
But 80 kilometers later in the mountains I noticed that one tire was losing air. I was on a winding, two lane road and there were motorcycles in front and behind me so I had nowhere to pull over safely and I had to drive on for what felt like an eternity eventually destroying the tire. I stopped at an abandoned gas station. There was no one there, the situation was spooky as I was in a country I’d never been in and no one I’d met so far spoke English.
So, I am there, in the middle of nowhere, no service station, nothing. Fortunately for me, the ancient emergency compressor was still working and the spare tire was holding air. As I didn’t want to do a 2,000 kilometer road trip with the spare tire, I put a message out to my followers about the situation and asked, if anyone had a tire for me. Luckily, I got a new wheel and tire in Zell am See. So, my situation went from awful to fantastic, with all the guys teaming up. The Porsche community really is incredible.
Again, some great coincidences came together. The owner of the 993 I was allowed to borrow was in fact also joining the rally on the second day! Interestingly enough he was driving a 996 C4S owned by his friend (also a follower of mine). He asked me if I would like to drive that car over his 993 and immediately accepted the opportunity.
And there I was, standing in front of an Atlas Grey Porsche 996 Carrera 4S. The car was equipped almost exactly like my own 4S, I was blown away. We then swapped cars. So I drove a road trip on another continent in a car that was the spitting image of my own. Unbelievable!
A Porsche 996 GT3 has been a big dream of mine for a long time. I went camping with it for a bit and enjoyed it a bit. However, it turned out that the timing wasn’t quiet right. The car wasn’t exactly what I was looking for so that marriage didn’t last. I have bought a few cars in the last few years. Including another 996 4S that I’m in the process of making more off-road capable. Special coil over suspension, larger tires, more ground clearance, and a few other special things that will make the car the 996 Dakar that Porsche never built. There are other 996s being built as “Safari” cars, but they usually go a little too far for me. I want a car that is very close to the original. Because Porsche designs great cars and I don’t want to screw it.
Besides, my Porsche daily driver 996 Carrera 4S also needs some attention. It now has over 300,000 kilometers on the clock, from which I’ve done almost 250,000 myself. I simply notice that the car is getting a bit tired. The first thing I’ll have to do is replace the suspension. I also have to work on the engine. It still doesn’t use any oil, but the engine will certainly need a rebuild at some point. I’d also like to make it a bit nicer in general. One consideration is also to convert the 4S to 2S, so remove the front differential. I have lots of plans in my head. I only need the time and of course the resources.
The next trip – again in Europe – will be along the original route of the Rally Monte Carlo. That will be great. We have great routes in the U.S., too, but we don’t have as many great passes in such a small area as you do in Europe. That’s why I loosely thought about a second base in Europe recently, to be honest.
But still, I have a road trip through Utah in mind. The way there from Oregon is the closest thing we have to the Alps. The Sierra Nevada is also scenically great. This year, the road trip from Oregon to Monterey for Rennsport Reunion is definitely on the agenda again. That was my first trip five years ago and is a bit of an anniversary for me.
If money was no object at all, my everyday car would probably be a Porsche 959 S. I like cars which changed the direction of a brand in a certain way. And the Porsche 959 was a technological tour de force. Porsche shoehorned every bit of tech into the car that was available. I think it would be a cool daily driver, even offering comfort and storage. I also think the Porsche 911 Dakar is great. And if I’m very lucky, I might even be able to get an allocation. But that’s yet to happen.
The pleasure was all mine. See you next time!
© images: Brock Keen if not otherwise marked