P4-2020-03 – Our Porsche Travel Experience
Article and photos by Ken Waller
The story of my involvement with the Porsche Travel Experience began early in 2018 on the same day that I booked a Mississippi River cruise. Later that day I learned of the first Porsche USA Route 66 Travel Experience offering. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sign up because of a conflict with the river cruise which was scheduled for the same time frame. I requested to be put on the wait list for the 2019 edition of the Route 66 Travel Experience in Arizona.
As it turned out, 2019 was a much better year to enjoy the Travel Experience as it was the year of our 50th wedding anniversary and the 20th anniversary on our son’s wedding. Accordingly, we invited my son Todd and his wife Bianca to enjoy the Travel Experience with us. With the combination of Porsche vehicles, Arizona roads and luxurious resort accommodations it seemed to be a natural way to celebrate these momentous accomplishments. I was contacted in early 2019 by a representative of the Travel Experience and was put on the waiting list as the 2019 Route 66 tour had not been finalized yet. In mid-February, registration for the Tour was opened and I immediately signed the four of us up. After filling out several documents we were all set for the Route 66 Travel Experience. I found it interesting that among the information requested was our preference for snacks and beverages for the rest stops.
We flew to Phoenix and were picked up by a limo provided by Porsche and taken to our accommodations in Scottsdale at the Andaz resort and Spa. We registered with Porsche and later that evening attended a cocktail hour and dinner. There we met the other seven couples participating in the Travel Experience along with the Porsche North America Program manager and the support personnel that were responsible for setting up the next five days of our Experience.
The next morning we were greeted by the Porsche crew and given information on the events for the next five days along with the rules of the road by the tour leader Richard. Each morning we would be assigned a different 911 that was ours for the day. We would have breakfast at our overnight accommodations and proceed to drive approximately 200 miles, with the drive broken up by a lunch stop and several rest stops where the driver and passenger could swap seats if they so desired. Each morning we formed up in two groups of four or five cars behind lead Porsche drivers in Cayennes. Both groups had two way radios to keep in touch with their lead driver. The lead drivers were all instructors from the Porsche Driving School at Barber Motorsport Park. Luggage transfer was handled by the support crew, picking up our bags from our rooms and depositing them in our new rooms at our next overnight stay. Hotel registration was handled by the Porsche crew and we would proceed directly to our rooms after our arrival.
During the five days of the event we rotated through five of the following 911s, all PDK equipped –
- Two 2020 Carrera S RWDs – 443hp – Miami Blue and White
- Two 2020 Carrera S AWDs – 443hp – Midnight Metallic Blue or Carmine Red
- Two 2019 Turbo Cabriolet AWDs – 540hp – Carmine Red or GT Silver Metallic
- One 2019 Targa 4S RWD – 420hp – White
- Two 2019 Targa 4S AWDs – 420hp – Lava Orange or Racing Yellow
A Skittles array of colors! Retail prices of these vehicles ranged from $150,000 to $194,000. At the start of our drive all these vehicles had accumulated less than 2,000 miles on the odometers, they had previously been used in a Colorado Travel Experience weeks before. They were in pristine condition – as new. At the end of each day’s drive they were gassed up, cleaned and detailed by a crew Porsche brought in from California. Talk about obsessive attention to detail!
All driving was done on state and federal roads except for a surprise addition on the last day. While we did enjoy spirited driving every day, the best part of the day was driving through the twisties where the 911s were in their element. As expected, the 911s did not let us down as they comfortably, safely and easily handled the mountain curves and switchbacks.
The first morning we left Scottsdale and headed north on Highway 87 through Tonto National Forest arriving mid-afternoon in Winslow, where we stayed at the historic La Posada Hotel and later had cocktails and dinner.
The following morning, after breakfast, we posed for the obligatory photo op – ‘Standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ’. Then we headed to Flagstaff where we had lunch and continued on to Sedona via the Oak Creek Canyon road – talk about twisties! Arriving in Sedona we headed to our accommodations for the next two nights – the L’Auberge de Sedona Resort and Spa along the banks of Oak Creek. Dinner that evening followed cocktails at the Edge Flagstone Patio, outdoors at L’Auberge.
The third day’s drive started later in the morning as we had opportunities to enjoy either a massage or experience a sunrise hot air balloon ride. We departed for lunch in Sedona followed by more twisties, driving the Oak Creek Canyon road in the opposite direction from yesterday. After more twisties north of Sedona, we returned to L’Auberge and then to dinner and cocktails at a cowboy bar in town – the Silver Saddle.
After breakfast on day four, we headed to the historic copper mining town of Jerome, stopping to explore the city. As the day continued we drove over the Mingus Mountains toward Prescott. The twisties in the Mingus Mountains were faster, on wider roads and about the same length as those we encountered in Oak Creek Canyon. A Tee shirt available in Jerome stated there were 158 turns in 12 miles going over the mountain. We arrived in Prescott and stayed at the historic Hassayampa Inn, a restored 1927 boutique hotel, followed by cocktails and dinner at Papa’s Uptown Grill.
On our last day, we headed south on scenic Route 89, arriving in Litchfield for lunch. After lunch, the participants were delighted and surprised to learn that we were going to a nearby road course – the Arizona Motorsports Park (16 turns, 2.2 miles) for some lead/follow lapping. After signing releases, we formed into two groups of participants behind the instructors in 911s and drove several familiarization laps to get a feel for this flat course. Finally, we switched seats and went back on the track at a faster pace so the passengers had an opportunity to drive. We then rotated to the next 911 in our group and continued this way until we had driven all the 911s in our group. We were told because we didn’t have helmets not to exceed 80mph – I for one saw 107mph while in the Turbo Cabriolet at the end of one of the three straights.
After the track session, we headed southeasterly towards Scottsdale and the Andaz resort again for our final night together as a group. Cocktails and dinner that evening were at a Scottsdale restaurant, The Mission Kierland. Back at Andaz we said our goodbyes and thanked the Porsche representative and his wonderful support crew for a truly fabulous week of driving these wonderful cars.
The next day, a Porsche supplied limo took us back to Sky Harbor airport for our flight to Detroit.
The Travel Experience was an excellent choice for our celebration. We had a chance to experience wonderful cars on very good driving roads plus excellent accommodations and food and best of all, family shared experiences.