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Old 03-27-2007, 05:22 PM   #1
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Driving School / Track Time

I am randomly considering doing the high speed driving school that is offered locally through the PCA. I am a bit hesitant though.

I don't currently have any driving class or autocross/ track experience. The class is held at Braneird International Speedway which sounds very cool.

My understanding is you have to incur a number of expenses before you can even play, including:

- Helmet
- Fire Extinguiser mounted in car
- Car inspection and certification for track
- Actual cost of the School
- Supplemental Insurance
- any associated prep work or post work
- hotel to stay overnight at track (its several hours away)

Here are some of my questions and concerns:

- Would I shred my new PS2 tires in a day at the track
- What other wear and tear do I need to be concerned about (ie dings from debris, brake fluid etc..)
- What preparation do you have to do, and since I'm not mechanically inclined how much would this cost

At the moment, I'm not sure if it would be worth the effort and expense. I could probably only do maybe 2 track days per year. I know that some of the responses will be to start with an autocross, but I don't really have that much interest in autocross (driving through cones in 1st and 2nd gear). I'm not insulting autocross in any way but a road track just seems alot more fun.

Anyhow I'm open to comments.

On a side note, I'm sure some of you are thinking I am an idiot for selling my extra set of wheels now that I'm considering this. I actually agree. The track thing didn't even cross my mind until after the wheels were shipped. Oops.
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Old 03-27-2007, 05:44 PM   #2
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I've never been to, nor do I know anyone who has been to, a PCA event, but Im just here to give you the obligatory "do an autocross to get a feel for your car" even though you said you didn't want that

In the very minimum it will show you how your car will react to fast turns, what you can and can not push her to do, and what to do if your car does go into a spin, or you start to lose control, etc. Only then would I consider a track day. Autocross is not about speed, it's about handling, and you should understand handling before you graduate to speed.

Then again, the PCA schools might cater very well to complete, brand new performace drivers, but someone else will have to chime in about that.
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:10 PM   #3
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well I would suggest getting a set of smaller wheels and of course less expensive tires. 19" Tires are pricey for sure. Now does that mean you will shred them at your first track outing?
No. For a first time event your seat time will be very limited.

Could you shred your tires in one Autocross? Definitely. Particulary super sticky r compounds in high heat and on a ****************ty course pavement full of gravel.

It's two very different approaches to high performance driving.

Autocross really throws allot of driving customs out the window, where on the track you are using the momentum of "racing lines" to limit your braking,
in Autocross you are using abrupt bursts of acceleration to cut the shortest distance between points.

in my opinion, its much harder to be quick in Autocross than on the track. And your driving skills in general will get much much sharper at a proper Autocross venue after say a dozen events then a similar amount of timed seat at the track.
Reaction skills become VASTLY improved which translates well on the road in avoiding accidents.

Now that being said, Autocross doesn't work well everywhere. If your local clubs have these mickey mouse courses where the cones are never more than 6 feet apart from each other and you are never going straight long enough to get over 75mph then its really not so much fun. Don't worry about it "only being 2nd gear" most people have no idea how fast a sports car will go in 2nd gear. Its really the workhorse gear. Take your car to 75mph on open lot and knock out a hard right hander and you will swear you were going 150mph.

do the DE with PCA, its not so much a question of whether it will be worth the expense but more an issue of whether you will wish you had never done it all because you'll feel like you are wasting your Porsche just driving to Starbucks everyday.
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfectlap
Now that being said, Autocross doesn't work well everywhere. If your local clubs have these mickey mouse courses where the cones are never more than 6 feet apart from each other and you are never going straight long enough to get over 75mph then its really not so much fun. Don't worry about it "only being 2nd gear" most people have no idea how fast a sports car will go in 2nd gear. Its really the workhorse gear. Take your car to 75mph on open lot and knock out a hard right hander and you will swear you were going 150mph.
Whose putting on events with speeds over 75mph?? SCCA limits their courses to 65mph.
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:58 PM   #5
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Hi,

Doc, PCA Courses are great, but spendy both in entry fees and Tech requirements. But, they are not the definitive source for skilled driving education. In fact, having been a PCA Memeber for 5 yrs., I have yet to join Nord Stern (Local Region) or attend any of their events. While in the Lotus Club, an affiliate of Intermarque (just like Nord Stern), I've found these guys to be standoffish and such - so I have never participated.

Check out the Minnesota Autosports Club (MAC). MAC sponsors a whole season of Auto-X events s well as numerous Driving Courses, including a Novice School which will be scheduled on 4/21,22. Open to all members, this 2-day school is only $50 and held at Dunwoody, just outside Downtown Mpls. Check them out at: http://forum.mnautox.com/forums/

MAC is much less expensive and has less expensive Tech requirements as well. Hope this helps...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99

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Old 03-27-2007, 08:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drburton
I am randomly considering doing the high speed driving school that is offered locally through the PCA. I am a bit hesitant though.

I don't currently have any driving class or autocross/ track experience. The class is held at Braneird International Speedway which sounds very cool.

My understanding is you have to incur a number of expenses before you can even play, including:

- Helmet
- Fire Extinguiser mounted in car
- Car inspection and certification for track
- Actual cost of the School
- Supplemental Insurance
- any associated prep work or post work
- hotel to stay overnight at track (its several hours away)

Here are some of my questions and concerns:

- Would I shred my new PS2 tires in a day at the track
- What other wear and tear do I need to be concerned about (ie dings from debris, brake fluid etc..)
- What preparation do you have to do, and since I'm not mechanically inclined how much would this cost

At the moment, I'm not sure if it would be worth the effort and expense. I could probably only do maybe 2 track days per year. I know that some of the responses will be to start with an autocross, but I don't really have that much interest in autocross (driving through cones in 1st and 2nd gear). I'm not insulting autocross in any way but a road track just seems alot more fun.

Anyhow I'm open to comments.

On a side note, I'm sure some of you are thinking I am an idiot for selling my extra set of wheels now that I'm considering this. I actually agree. The track thing didn't even cross my mind until after the wheels were shipped. Oops.
Check with the region hosting the event. Many regions do NOT require first timers to have a fire extinguisher.

Helmet? Again, maybe the region has loaners. Dropping $350 for a helmet can be daunting if you are not sure you will enjoy this new hobby.

Most PCA regions hold a pre-event tech (free) or have reqion sponsors who will tech your car for free or a small fee.

Cost of school? well, not everything is free you know

Lodging? your call. Split a room with another entrant.. Bring a tent.. whatever works for you.

Supplemental Insurance? Well. check your owne policy for any exclusions before worrying about this. While not without occurance, simply drive within your skills and don't try to impress your instructor.

Prep work? Ideally nothing. Typically high performance brake pads and fluid are recommended. Stock pads, if new, should last through a 2 day event. Even stock brake fluid should be ok. Most regions require a brake fluid flush/change within 3-6 months of the event you are attending.

Would you shred your street tires? Possibly, but not likely. Maybe wear down the outside shoulders but not much more.


Hope this helps!
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Old 03-27-2007, 08:43 PM   #7
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I did my first DE last year and it was a really great experience for me. I went kind of last minute with a PCA group south of me. I highly recommend that you join the PCA. For the minimal membership fee you get loads of benefits mainly the track days. There are loads of socials, track days, autocrosses, etc. But-back to DE days-you only need a helmet and an inspection and here there is at least one indie shop that will do it for free. Of course they will try and sell you something I am sure but that goes with the turf. Perfectlap is right-leave those 19's at home. Pick up a set of 17's-the rubber is a lot cheaper. I had a great instructor who was very talkative and taught me quite a bit. I would have to disagree with people at this event being standoffish and I am as regular Joe as you can get. Most everyone I met was really friendly, helpful and loved to talk about Porsches. All you gotta do is say "Nice ride!" and the conversation will be on.

Here is a link of things to do and take with you to the track rom the PCA. It is quite useful (if not invaluable) on your first time out. I threw everything in a large storage container that fit perfectly in my front trunk.

http://www.pca.org/drivers_ed/tips.html

Don't cheap out on the helmet either. What is your head worth? I'm sure you don't have a hundred dollar head. Try and buy it locally to get a good fit.

Oh yeah-and make sure you change out that brake fluid before hitting the track!

Have a great time!
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Old 03-27-2007, 09:37 PM   #8
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A lot of really great advice here - take heed of it...

Another consideration might be to take 1 or 2 days of the Porsche Driving Experience at Barber Motorsports Park. TOP NOTCH instructors (Hurley Haywood, David Donohue for cripes sake!), vehicles, track time, autocross, classroom, skid pad, and heel/toe. It's an expensive time, but cheap for what you get, honestly. If you like what happens there, you will know that you can happily pursue more track time with your car in doing local events.
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EPIQTodd
Another consideration might be to take 1 or 2 days of the Porsche Driving Experience at Barber Motorsports Park.
F.Y.I. it's called 'Porsche Sport Driving School' now. WOW is it expensive to attend!

http://www.porschedriving.com/home.htm
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Old 03-28-2007, 03:33 AM   #10
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drburton -

there is a lot of variation between PCA regions in terms of personality and level of activity. our region (peach state) is fantastic; i have met numerous persons from all walks with whom i get along famously. i recmmend at least heading to a couple of events to see what you think.

with regard to the DE program, i think it's great. you will get a lot of time in the car and some very good instruction. you won't need a fire extinguisher. you probably won't destroy your tires, but you will likely use up more than half of their life over the weekend. you will need an sa2000 helmet, but you can probably borrow one if need be. otherwise, call discovery parts. they have great prices. also, make sure your brake pads are new.

autocross is fine, but you will get like five minutes of driving around some cones with minimal instruction. with DE, you'll get around four hours of driving on a race course with classroom and in-vehicle instruction. i'll let you guess which will improve your driving more.

as for DE insurance, some carriers of regular policies (check yours) don't exclude you from coverage if the event is a sanctioned, un-timed, non-race on a closed course. many DO exclude you. if you're very concerned, Snellings Walters offers DE insurance. it's by year, though, and covers unlimited events.

in my opinion you should give this a shot. it's REALLY, REALLY fun.
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Old 03-28-2007, 03:36 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 986 Girl
Whose putting on events with speeds over 75mph?? SCCA limits their courses to 65mph.
we've had a course or two here where i've hit third gear solidly. not often, but it happens. we don't have a speed limit per se. (Peacstate PCA Auto-X)
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Old 03-28-2007, 04:24 AM   #12
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A lot of good advice here, not a lot I can add except: If you want to drive a DE, go for it by all means. You bought a Porsche, you like cars. You should experience what the car can do (in a controlled environment!), whether it's AX or a road course, and if your heart says road then do road.
I did 4 or 5 DE's with my Boxster and have done one in the RX8, and love the experience. I'm not a racer, don't have a license. I found the training and the driving experience to be what I was looking for.
Having said that, I'm starting to get curious about those cones...
Tires: You might consider trying your first day on your street tires - the first day's wear is usually not too bad. At worst you will pick up some road noise from the scruffed edges. It's not a bad idea to re-balance tires and re-align after a track day; some things can shift a little on the track. I ran one set of tire on the Box, the hum of the tires reminded me of the fun I had on the track. For the RX8 I picked up a set of used OEM wheels and got a set of track tires, since I'm officially hooked now.
Venue: I chose the local driving school, inexpensive and I could do one day at a time instead of the PCA weekend. PCA is certainly an option, as are other car clubs in an area that usually open slots for track days after they cover their members.
Good luck and have fun!
Cones, hmmm...
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Old 03-28-2007, 05:14 AM   #13
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autocross is fine, but you will get like five minutes of driving around some cones with minimal instruction. with DE, you'll get around four hours of driving on a race course with classroom and in-vehicle instruction. i'll let you guess which will improve your driving more.
This is not true for a lot of regions. In ours, a typical course is about a minute and a half, and I've gotten up to 12 runs before. Plus I go every weekend, sometimes twice in a weekend. Also, if you go to an SCCA event, you are required to have an instructor for your first 2 runs, and at least in the 4 different regions I've been to, they are always more than willing to help you out after that. I think it's unfair to say you get minimal instruction when it all varies on your region and how open you are to asking people for help.

Just freaking go to an autocross ONCE to see what it's like and get a feel for things. It's going to be all of $50 TOPS and then you can decide if you think you are ready to jump to a track event or not. To me it would be better to spend $50 to realize that autcross didn't help me, then to spend a couple hundred plus to find out I wish I had had a better feel for my car before a track day. What can it hurt?
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Old 03-28-2007, 05:26 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the comments and advice, I appreciate it.

At this point I think I am going to 'delay' my enrollment in the course. Here are the reasons why:

1) Looks like I might have a conflict that weekend
2) The class is less than a month away and I feel like I'm forcing myself to make a quick decision. Since there is some upfront costs, I would rather take some time and make sure this is something I want to do. Yesterday was the first time I have even considered this.
3) I am just joining the PCA. I think it might be worth my time to go to some of the events and meet the local PCA members before showing up on a track day. I'm reluctant to show up at the track not knowing anyone.

Thanks again for the advice. I might be signing up for the class later this Summer or Fall.
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Old 03-28-2007, 06:51 AM   #15
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it's always wise to take your time. But don't feel too aprehensive about jumping into a track day. You'll be in a large group of novices and it's slow going at first.
But definitely do it in the near future. You may need to sign up well in advance, allot of clubs have their novice events sell out quickly.

as for 75mph at an autocross, that's nothing uncommon. I think the law says you are not to surpass the local speed limit or whatever, but that's largely ingnored.
Here in NY/NJ we have a ton of clubs, not just national clubs like SCCA and PCA but some regional ones as well which were started because members wanted faster speeds, more open courses (fewer cones) and wanted more runs than the abysmal 6 or fewer that the NY SCCA has sometimes. Up here you have your choice any weekend of 4 or 5 events on the same day. Some guys do 40+ events a season.

But ironically those events (going above 75mph) tend not to be very popular because they favor the less nimble, bigger HP cars, result in very short lap times (under one minute) and are not very technical, far fewer turns. But I think its good to have some variety, one week its fast and wide open another week it will be trickier.
And if you are going into third gear which is good for 100+mph then its not really and autocross anymore.

at any rate.. think of autox as practicing at the driving range before venturing out for 18 holes. And depending on your club you can get some excellent instruction/advice for pennies when you consider how much your paying to learn 80% of the same stuff at a DE or driving school. And its really hard to learn all that in a single outing to a track or weekend driving school.
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Old 03-28-2007, 06:59 AM   #16
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Dr. Burton:

Regarding the PS2's, you will see some wear from a track day but unless you're pushing the envelope, it won't be excessive.

We have a spare set of wheels with PS2's that we did 1 auto-x, a 2 day auto X school and 3 DE's last year and I'd say tread is about 2/3 of new.

Check with a local club and see if you can attend an event and ride with an instructor--just to get your feet wet; they usually have spare helmets.

Here in OH, we have a track--Nelsons-- where you can just show up with your car (+helmet), get some instructions on the course, rules of the road and what the flags mean and you're on your way--they call them Fun Days. Also, just like any PCA event, it is not competative and you can drive as fast (or slow) as you see fit.
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:06 AM   #17
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Another consideration might be to take 1 or 2 days of the Porsche Driving Experience at Barber Motorsports Park. TOP NOTCH instructors (Hurley Haywood, David Donohue for cripes sake!), vehicles, track time, autocross, classroom, skid pad, and heel/toe. It's an expensive time, but cheap for what you get, honestly.
Pricey yes but Barber Motorsports Park is a top notch facility. The place is impeccably maintained and the track is relatively technical. I've done a few parade laps prior to the Rolex Series events the last two years. Fortunately for me, this is where my local PCA and BMWCCA hold DE events!

I'm planning my first one this Spring.
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:12 AM   #18
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Another word about DE events.

I contacted my insurance agent and I'm covered if it is DE. The key word was to tell them it wasn't a timed event (in the sense of a race).

The main issue at Barber I've been told is they are very strict about track and landscaping damage - George Barber is very proud of his track and you might be buying him some sod, an azaela or new guardrail
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:32 AM   #19
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how common are Boxsters down in 'Bama?
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:19 AM   #20
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how common are Boxsters down in 'Bama?
I haven't seen a lot on the street (I live in Birmingham). I'm just now joining the local PCA so I'll have a better idea in the coming months. No shortage of Bimmers though.

The Barber facility is 10 miles from my house.

There is also a road circuit course connected to Talledega (about 30 miles or so).

Local SCCA runs autocrosses relatively frequently.
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