By: Steve Carbary – SEM PCA DE Chairman
The mission and purpose of the Porsche Club of America’s Driver’s Education Program is to provide a safe, structured and controlled teaching and learning environment. The PCA DE Program is designed so that participants can improve their driving abilities and acquire a better understanding of vehicle dynamics and driving safety. Participants will experience first-hand the capabilities of high performance automobiles in a controlled, closed-course environment and acquire skills that will enhance safer vehicle operation in all driving situations.
Ok, that’s the ‘Official’ definition stated. But what does it mean ?
It’s probably a good assumption that if you are reading this, you have an interest in sports cars and spirited driving. You’re the type that will seek out those local twisty roads that bring a smile and some exhilaration to your commute. You’ve heard of Track days or Driver’ Education and your curiosity has lead you here.
Well, have you ever seen those videos where some famous driver is behind the wheel of an iconic sports car, dancing it around some road racing track? Or any of those Fun commercials that always seem to have a caption about it being ‘… on a closed course…’ and thought to yourself – ‘Wow, would I like the opportunity to get MY car out there and do that. Free from speed restrictions, traffic, and in a secure, open environment’. You’ve also hopefully thought ‘… those drivers are good’!!
Or maybe you’ve had your car for a little while now and are just looking for a good place where you can really ‘stretch its legs’ and ‘open it up a bit’. You have a sports car after all, suited for twisty roads. You want to have some fun with it and maybe pick up a pointer or two while you’re at it. You’ve heard of driver coaches and want to see what it’s all about.
These are what Drivers Education is about. YOU getting YOUR chance to drive road courses with a coach in your car to help you learn the skills of high performance driving and have some fun at speed.
Let’s face it. Driving is a learned skill. We’ve all had our basic drivers training when we got our state license. But think about how much has your driving improved since then. Years of practice in a range of situations and conditions has been your teacher since those early years. The same applies to driving cars as you approach the higher limits of their capabilities. Practice and coaching is how anyone improves at any skill.
The Porsche Club of America’s High Performance Drivers Education events (HPDE or D.E. events) are designed to be a safe, controlled place to learn and practice the proper techniques of car control at higher levels. Let me explain how this works.
Our D.E. events are held at race tracks all around the United States. These venues afford us locations that are both secure and challenging. I’m talking about road racing courses. The kind you’d see in all those videos and on TV in GT races. With varieties of challenging curves, and elevation changes galore. The roads drivers dream of and the stuff sports cars were designed for. We pair participants (students) with highly experienced coaches (instructors). These instructors ride along in the students cars and give immediate feedback and direction to help improve the students abilities. The instructors start out teaching basic skills to establish a comfortable understanding, and then build from there accordingly.
The day is broken up between times when students take their cars on the track with their instructors and times when we have classroom sessions. These classrooms allow us the chance to discuss the concepts of car dynamics and driving techniques. We break down terms like understeer and rotation, weight transfer and threshold braking in further detail. The class sessions reinforce what students are putting to practical use during the driving sessions. We feel this dual approach is extremely beneficial and separates us from just ‘open track’ days. Again, driving is a learned skill and what better way to learn something than with friends in your club.
Our DE days are as much a social events as they are driving events too. You will be surrounded by like minded people who share the same driving passion and car enthusiasm as yourself. During lunch and in between sessions on the track, people often gather and talk about their cars, the track, other tracks they maybe have driven, or what it felt like the last session out. We occasionally even have friends and family members come out and watch or take pictures from the many stands as well.
So if YOU are truly a fan of spirited driving and would enjoy a day of taking YOUR car out on race track for some fun, I can think of no better way.
I promise you, it will leave you smiling for days …