A long time ago, in a bank account not so far, far away… out came a not insignificant amount of money. I had just bought my first Porsche. It was beautiful.
As the proud owner of a 2001 Boxster, I got busy checking and performing all the usual maintenance items. I had owned several BMW’s, but never a Porsche and literally didn’t know a soul who owned one either.
I joined the PCA and looked forward to meeting fellow enthusiasts
I got familiar with parts suppliers and websites and had filters, oil and miscellaneous odds and ends headed my way. I went for drives and tinkered and really found the experience enjoyable.
In an effort to get more in tune with owners of the marque, I went to the KCRPCA website and decided to call a few folks up and introduce myself. One of the first calls I made was to Bob Wayman. Picked at random really from a page in Der Sportwagen. I introduced myself and he proceeded to tell me about the club and how he had just gotten back from a track event. “Sounds interesting,” I thought mildly, but then I didn’t have a race car and didn’t know anything about it. “You should take your car to a DE,” Bob said. “What’s that?” was my reply.
Through the course of the next half hour, Bob explained what a DE event (Drivers Education Event) was and how my car is perfectly suited for the event. “It is safe, fun and you will really learn more about driving than you ever have,” he said.
They call it a slippery slope; racing that is
And in retrospect I wasn’t on the slope yet. But I was certainly standing next to the starter at the top of the hill.
“Really?” I thought. I can take my car out on a real race track, with real corner workers and real pits and real crowds cheering? OK, no crowds cheering, or pit crews, but it sounded pretty exciting.
I learned that the next DE event for the KCRPCA was scheduled for October at Heartland Park. I quickly logged on and tried to register. “Oh no, the system won’t let me register, I won’t be able to go!” I called Bob and explained my, at best, desperate situation. “Registration doesn’t open until August,” he explained calmly. It is only the first of May.”
Fast forward to Saturday morning, the first day of the DE
I depart my Overland Park house at daybreak and head west. It is raining. Really raining. I have carefully loaded the Boxster with every recommended DE day piece of equipment; tools, jack, brake fluid, tire pressure gauge, lunch packed and the list goes on and on. I even have a rain poncho and tarp for covering all the gear while it sits on the ramp while out driving. I have my signed forms, waivers, membership card, registration and proof of insurance. After the registration scare, I am prepared, I am not taking any chances.
There is a great turn out, even given the rain and I find myself listening to Bob go over the DE day rules in a pretty large crowd of drivers. I meet my instructor, Chris McIntyre, and after introductions, I head over to the ground school session. I was one of the first to arrive, so I didn’t realize the parking lot had been filling up when I went inside. On the walk over to the classroom, I was amazed at all the different Porsches assembled. Every make and model imaginable were present. That is really part of the fun for me, just being able to see all the cars. It is still something I look forward to between runs.
I am familiar with ground school and pre-flight briefings, so the class work was pretty interesting but uneventful. After class, I meet up with Chris and he drives my car for the first couple of laps, so I can learn the course a bit. When I get behind the wheel, we take it easy and I try to stay coordinated and learn the lines. Then it is back to class to review and discuss.
After class, we are directed to take our cars for some braking practice. We drive to about sixty and then practice maximum breaking. This is a good idea. Most of us have never tried to break at the limit. Far from it; and to do so repeatedly was an eye opener. “The car can take it, it was designed for this.” we were told. It became pretty clear why there is a rule about having a fresh brake systems flush prior to a DE. It became even more apparent later.
Finally, the time had arrived we were going to drive at speed for the first time
If you haven’t done this before it is pretty exciting, sitting there, in your helmet, waiting to be waved onto the track while it is “hot”.
We pull out in line and accelerate. Down a slight hill and then back up hill in in a fairly tight turn. I am just learning the line and when to be on and off the gators. No way to remember what turns are coming next. They all look the same (I would dream about the track that night and only after driving it in my sleep did I begin to have it memorized).
On the back straight and then the final couple of turns before the big straight. Down shift to second, hard left and then on to the main straightaway. Shifting at redline, second and then third and then finally fourth, I see 100 MPH flash on the digital speedometer just as we crest the main straightaway hill.
I soon realize that I can’t see over that hill and that the car was getting light and I was going to have to brake really really soon. “Keep the power on.” Chris says over the intercom, there is a corner worker there who will alert you if there is trouble ahead.” Oh really? We are going triple digit speeds, can’t see the other side of this hill and we are supposed to continue to accelerate unless the corner worker waves a flag at us. Hmmm. And then, after we crest the hill, we apply maximum breaking? While going this fast? Really?
No time to actually get an answer from Chris, I just do as I am instructed. A second later we are over the crest, quickly coming up on turn one and when the weight settles, I brake hard, down shift to second, get back on the power and do it all again. And again.
I am firmly on the slippery slope.