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Old 08-13-2007, 08:36 PM   #1
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driver training

Hi Guys, First Porsche, first post.

2000 Porsche 986

I've read the forums and agree that a driver training course is probibly the best investment I can make before any "bolt ons" Previous car was a Subaru Forester and would like to do an advance driver course. I'm currently in Southern Cal, can anyone recomend one from experience?
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Old 08-14-2007, 05:36 AM   #2
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As a starting point I would contact your local PCA and see what they offer. They probably have a 3 day class at a local track. I took the one through my PCA and felt it was pretty informative and a really good start.

At that point if you feel you need more 'serious' training I hear the Skip Barber school is very good.
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Old 08-14-2007, 11:49 AM   #3
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PCA (Porsche Club of America) and or POC (Porsche Owners Club) would be good "porsche" places to start. SCCA and NASA may also offer you additional opportunities. You could also try a professional school like Skip Barber or Bondurant. Even a Jim Hall (karting) school would be helpful. I am sure Southern California and Ne, Az, NM and Northern Ca have LOTS of places due to the good weather.
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Old 08-14-2007, 12:48 PM   #4
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socal? nice. lots of good clubs as some of the socal forum members will tell you.

at begining, I'd skip the driving schools in favor of some autocross. The driving schools are great but driving is not something you can pick up in a day or two as a newbie. Those ah-ha! momments come after days and days of mistakes,
Its very much a trial and error thing that takes dozens of hours. Porsche racer Randy Probst began his road racing career in Autocross and still does it localy.
Basically you pay $40 have an instructor ride with you on each of your 10 or fewer runs and along the way you will pick up all the basics at a fraction of the cost of the expensive driving schools like Skip Barber. After about a dozen autocross events sign up for the EVO school and do some PCA DE track days. You'll show up like a pro and with more confidence.
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:55 PM   #5
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We really have no AX close in the area, so I did sign up for a DE our PCA chapter is having in October.

You're right, I haven't been accpted but in a way I'm concerned about being in over my head and overwhelmed.
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:01 PM   #6
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Guys I really appreciate the info. Tks for that!
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Old 08-17-2007, 07:16 AM   #7
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Now is a great time to do some performance driving in Calif. Lots of events and track days coming up in Sept./Oct. Where are you exactly? Here is a good place to start:
http://www.pca.org/zone8
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Old 08-17-2007, 07:36 AM   #8
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If you pay $5000 for a professional school, and you don't already have basic high-speed car control as natural as breathing, those high paid instructors will have to spend the whole time teaching you the things you could have learned for $300 a weekend from your local PCA or NASA. You will eventually get to the point at your local PCA or NASA schools where the instructors really can't help you that much any more. When you reach that point, THEN go to the big name schools. This varies based on your natural talent and the speed with which you pick it up. Some hotshoes are ready in less than a year, others take decades. There's no need to rush it. Enjoy the ride!

As for autocross, although car control concepts are similar, the executions are quite different. The turns in autocross come at you faster than a formula one driver, but the speeds are so slow, the car has a horrible predominance towards understeer (push in NASCAR talk). The way to defeat this understeer is to force the car to rotate by all manner of actions that essentially unsettle the car in a controlled fashion. Though a valuable skill for winning autocrosses, it is practically useless on high speed race tracks. There, your biggest concern is smooth smooth smooth. I'm not saying that autocrossing can't help you, I'm just saying it's apples and oranges. Finally, I prefer track days for newbies because there is no clock. If you go to an autocross and end up dead last out of 70 cars (which you will inevitably do your first couple times), it can be very discouraging, and I have seen plenty of people leave and never return. At the track, you are only concerned with being a better driver, increasing your knowledge, etc. There are no lap times or trophies to hurt your feelings.
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Old 08-17-2007, 08:09 AM   #9
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Iflyadesk,
I agree with some of what you said. Auto-X and track days DE's are different. If you go in the spirit of learning I believe both are valuable. If you go thinking you will lay the FTD your first time out it will be a very humbling experience.

I have lots of dirt track and off road racing experience so I know a little about going fast. I am fairly new to asphalt though and regularly get spanked by experienced drivers (men and women) who have been playing this game for a long time. It's all in good fun. Our Auto-X courses here regularly reach 80mph on the straights so speeds are very valid for performance driving street or track.

My car does not suffer the horrible understeer at low speeds you describe. Perhaps just tire differences. I actually find it to be very balanced and predictable fore and aft. Fast or slow, street, track or dirt, smooth smooth smooth is always the name of the game. An unsettled car is a slow car.
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topless
An unsettled car is a slow car.
Have you ever won at a Nationals or Pro Solo Autocross?

I agree that smooth is faster than the jerkiness we all have to cleanse at the beginning. However, at the cutting edge of autocrossing--not winning the local PCA or regional event, but getting on the podium in Pro Solo or a National series--you have to really toss the car around.

Now, I will caveat this statement with the following.

(1) I have never autocrossed a Boxster that was well set up.
(2) I have never won a Nationals or Pro Solo autocross.
(3) I am terrible at autocrossing, and when I have friends who are nationally competitive ride in the car with me, they tell me that I'm just too gentle with the car.

That's ok, though. I have never enjoyed autocrossing, and there isn't a track event within 6hrs of my home that you won't find me at either racing W2W, time trialling, instructing, or just lapping. Autocross is a very enjoyable sport to a lot of people; I'm just not one of them.
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Old 08-17-2007, 10:22 PM   #11
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To each his own. I enjoy both but I am better on a track. I believe John V holds a solo National title. Perhaps he can clarify.
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:39 AM   #12
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iflyadesk,

The one thing I think you are missing is the difference between wear and tear to the car and the possibility of damage between autocrossing and track driving. I love autocrossing, and since we only get about 6 - 1 minute runs a day there really is not a lot of wear and tear on the tires or brakes. I would love to try a DE someday, but the expense of tire and brake pad wear keep me away for now...

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Old 08-20-2007, 10:01 AM   #13
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not my words but very spot on:

"autocross makes for faster and safer track drivers"

its like driving ranges and 18 hole golf courses.. you need to spend time at both because your seat time is limited at both.
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:06 AM   #14
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I agree with iflyadesk. Autocross and DE is an apples to anvils comparison. True, you do both in a car and there is a course to drive around but after that the similarities stop. The techniques are between the two are just different - primarily as a result of the differences in speeds and course design.

I'd love to see Topless's autocross courses that "regularly reach 80mph on the straights" - assuming we're not talking some highly modified cars here. I don't think I've ever seen one that would've required me to get out of second gear (and you're not doing 80 mph in 2). Overall speeds are significantly lower (30's).

Again, the two are just different animals. There is no reason to be intimated with either event (Autocross or DE). Personally, the idea of driving around some cones in a parking lot while in second gear does nothing for me. But that doesn't mean someone else won't like it.

Whatever the case, you guys need to be familiar with "The Pyramid of Speed".

Have fun!
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:33 AM   #15
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I think most Stadium sized Lot autoX events (that are well configured) go up to 70-80mph. Nothing unusual.
Personally, I wouldn't attend one that was slower. I tried that once with BMW club, small industrial parking lot, sea of tightly spaced cones...my tires were screeching the whole time. Not fun...
At the other extreme, we've had very very fast courses where 3rd gear and 90+mph was reached and imo that's not really an autocross anymore, not to mention the lap was done in 45 seconds and the whole event ended 20 minutes early. You need a balance.
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:26 PM   #16
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hmm.. most "stadium lots" (meadowlands, fed-ex field, ripken stadium) I have driven are maybe top of 2nd gear, or bottom of third gear, depending on gearing ratios). Since I've had the boxster, which is geared for 68-70mph in second, I've never needed third.

However, I have run on some "airfield" lots (Devens in Ma) and seen 3rd gear.. 70-80mph.

And i would agree that AX and DE are more compliments than alike. The advantage of AX is the ability to probe a vehicles limits in a lower speed environment. If you can learn to feel a car sliding at 30mph, then feeling it slide at 60mph at a track should be less un-nerving.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:30 AM   #17
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[QUOTE=J-RAD]
I'd love to see Topless's autocross courses that "regularly reach 80mph on the straights"

Check it out boys and girls. Qualcom Stadium in S.D. 80-90 second lap times. Two mid 3rd gear straights. Even my little 2.5L winds up pretty good here. An excellent group of instructors also. Come on out and play!
http://www.pcasdr.org/img/2006/Autocross/TrackLayout/AX20061125.pdf
http://www.pcasdr.org/img/2007/AX/TrackLayout/AXTrackCurrent.pdf
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:01 PM   #18
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We have OctoberFAST and MayFAST where the local PCA rents out Hallet Motor Speedway and anyone who's a member can come out and run their car for Driver's Education. You can also pay to run the track by yourself.

Contact your local PCA, I'm sure they have an event similar in your area.
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:30 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topless
Check it out boys and girls. Qualcom Stadium in S.D. 80-90 second lap times. Two mid 3rd gear straights. Even my little 2.5L winds up pretty good here. An excellent group of instructors also. Come on out and play!
http://www.pcasdr.org/img/2006/Autocross/TrackLayout/AX20061125.pdf
http://www.pcasdr.org/img/2007/AX/TrackLayout/AXTrackCurrent.pdf
Diagrams are difficult to judge, particularly when they have no scale to them. I was hoping you might have video or something. Where exactly are you hitting 80mph? The only apparent possibility that looks long enough is on the 2nd diagram between N3 and P3. Given that the turn at the end of that straight appears to be more than 90 degrees, I'm guessing it must be a wide course too. Nonetheless, I take your word for it. Certainly not the norm based on my experience.
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Old 08-21-2007, 03:17 PM   #20
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There is a race track in Barstow my sister when to when she got here Mini Cooper, it was a defensive driving class, and they took her out in her car up to 100mph, and showed her defensive driving skills, she is a way better driver now. I would recommended it.
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