SEMPCA 2015: Drive with Spirit
By Howard Gilson April 2015
By the time you read this article, the snow will have melted and hopefully we have had some rain to wash the salt off the roads. I usually drive my Boxster through the winter, but this winter I haven’t been so lucky. I finally switched from the truck to the Boxster in the second week of March. There is still snow on the ground, but the temperatures should be in the 50s most of the week.
It has been nice hearing the birds chirping in the mornings and finally having some warmer weather.
Spring is upon us, and at the Southeast Michigan PCA our annual rites of spring include the Swap Meet and the Spring Tour.
The Swap Meet will be on April 11th and is once again generously hosted – indoors – by Porsche of Farmington Hills. It includes coffee and donuts in the morning as well as lunch. Sellers are asked to please contact event Chair Dave Burton to reserve tables. Come on out and enjoy the company of fellow enthusiasts who are as eager as you are to get their cars back on the road.
During my early years in the club, Spring Tour meant that I was getting my old 911 ready for its first driving tour. This year’s Spring Tour will be on May 31st. It will include a driving tour through some of southeast Michigan’s more interesting roads and dinner at a great restaurant. Please contact Event Chair Greg Gallagher, firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s New Member Gathering is also a spring event. It will be held at the Woodward Warehouse on April 25th, 2015. New and longtime members are welcome. Please come out, show off your car and meet some of our members, event chairs and officers. Let us show you that, “It’s not just the cars; it’s the people.”
In product news out of Zuffenhausen, Porsche announced the new GT3 RS at the Geneva Auto show and I must say, I’ll take the orange one – even though I like the ultraviolet GT3 RS too. With its 4.0L engine producing an impressive 500 HP, it is faster than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 around the Nurburgring. The front fenders, hood, roof and rear end look amazing on this latest offering from Porsche. Please contact your local Porsche dealer for more details.
Last month I told about my first Driver’s Education experience; this month I will jump ahead to the experience of driving on the track. After learning for a few years and tuning the engine and suspension of my 1975 911 S Targa, I began to really learn what Porsches are all about. It’s not always about the most horsepower. My vintage 911 S Targa had only had 157hp. However, turn on a dime handling and exceptional steering are in the DNA of all Porsches. With an early 911 you feel like you are dancing with the car around track. With body roll, you can feel the noise dive under braking, then “turn in” forces the vehicle to the side. Once you get to the apex and accelerate, the rear hunkers down you blast out of the corner and head to the next curve. When you get everything right and remember to be smooth, the feeling is amazing! It’s arguably the most engaging driving experience.
One other thing about my 1975 911 S: Remember last month when I mentioned it had a Sport-o-Matic transmission? Well, managing to down shift and rev match was very tricky and had to be learned over time. It had a lot to do with timing – timing the shift and blipping the throttle was key, as was timing when the transmission would engage. I got very good at this and was even able to use my left foot for braking and right foot for throttle (Please note: This is not what the club teaches at DE and Tom Fielitz wrote about this last year).
It just felt natural to me and I think this is why I felt like I was dancing with the car. I was able to feel the Porsche and move along with the car while using all my senses. Drivers Education sessions will also teach about being aware of what is behind, beside and ahead of you while driving. I have avoided a few accidents because I was aware of other drivers and anticipated their actions.
Speaking of avoiding accidents via more capable driving, our third annual Street Survival School is coming May 16th, 2015. One again, we will be at the Faith Christen Assembly in Melvindale, Michigan. Go to www.streetsurvival.org for details and to register. All registrations must be made at this site. Street Survival School is for teen drivers from age 16 to 21. It includes classroom sessions and plenty of “hands on” driving time, with an instructor to help teens learn how to respond to common driving situations that require immediate corrective action.
I have been an instructor for the Street Survival School the last two years and there is such a satisfaction to teaching teens things that I had to sometimes learn the hard way. One thing I have taught is during hard braking or an abrupt stop, to look in the rear view mirror to see if someone behind is too close and may not be able to stop without hitting the back of your vehicle. So please, if you know of a teen driver, get them to take this course.