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Old 05-08-2008, 01:08 PM   #1
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Post PCA Driver's Education Day 5-7-2008

Well, it was pretty kick ass. The rain stopped just as the first novice group was getting onto the track. I was in group 3, so the track was pretty dry. My instructor drove 2 laps in my BoxS first off. I've gotta tell you I was scared and at 100% pucker factor when he was driving. Not that he was driving badly, he was amazing. I didn't know my car could do those things. These Boxsters are incredible machines.

He let me drive for the rest of the session and was impressed with how well I did. I nailed most of my turns after 1 lap. Having done about a dozen trackdays at Blackhawk on my sportbike helped because I knew the track well. One problem area I did have was braking to early for T1 and turning in too early for T6 and T7. On the bike I would brake at 4 where in the car you can brake at 2 or later. These things stop fast! Another area I needed to work on is letting the clutch out earlier. I felt great after that session and felt that I learned a lot.

By the second session I had a new instructor. My first one had engine trouble with is Cayman S and had to work on that. The new guy told me slightly different stuff, but was very helpful. I kept getting smoother and braking later for T1. I also got T6 down better. I was also getting better letting the clutch out and trying to blip the throttle. Another successful session.

The third session was very frustrating. I got another instructor. Before we even got in the car the instructor started criticizing my car. First it was the tires (two different brands front and rear, I bought it that way and wasn't going to change it for one DE event), then it was the stock seatbelts. I tried explaining that this was my first day and I didn't want to make a huge investment right away if I didn't like the track. Once on the track I found I didn't agree at all the instructor's instructing style. Where the first guys would say, "ok brake.... now turn in.... track out...." this instructor would say "BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE TOO EARLY TURN IN NOW TOO EARLY TRACK OUT FARTHER FARTHER FARTHER GAS GAS GAS GAS!!!!" It was irritating to say the least. Barking the orders didn't lead to smooth movements. The instructor had me do different lines on some turns than the first two guys, most notably T5. I wasn't comfortable at all with what the instructor was having me do there or on T7. After a few laps a 997 came up behind me in the carousel. I got a blue/yellow flag so right after I tracked out of T5 I signaled him to pass on my left. And the instructor yelled at me for that saying he was passing off line. I said I was online and the instructor said I wasn't. But I was and I even got back over to the left side of the track before making T6. The instructor lectured me for a few more minutes about that and I countered with my points which the instructor dismissed.

One lap (turning into T6) I let the clutch out too late which is something I know I've been trying to work on. The instructor's comment was, "did you just learn to drive a stick today?" The instructor was trying to be funny but it didn't come out that way.

Then we came up on a Mini and he broke early for T7. I was still about 5 car lengths behind (before the kink) so I didn't brake right away. The instructor yelled at me saying as soon as I see red lights no matter how far away I should brake. So a lap later an older Carrera broke early on T1 but I was about 7-8 car lengths back; I hit the brakes and the instructor yelled "TOO EARLY!!" I then started to turn in and told her the instructor just said to hit the brakes when I see red. The instructor then said, "I mean the turn in." I just shook my head because the instructor said too early before I even started my turn in so it was obvious the instructor meant the brake. I was frustrated the whole time and I didn't feel like I learned anything in that session. I didn't feel smooth at all, especially with the way the instructor was telling me to do things. And to top it all off the instructor criticized my shoes after we got back to the paddock. I just shook my head. I know these aren't racing shoes. I again repeated I am Day One and bought just the minimum for the day. That session almost soured my whole day.

I am not letting that one session cloud my experience, however. I had a great time and everyone was friendly and helpful. Big thumbs up to PCA and the Porsche Exchange for the event. I learned so much about what my car can do. I hope to get back on the track pretty soon, or at least some autocrosses.

I'll say it again, I am amazed at what these Boxsters can do. Props to Porsche for designing such a well-balanced machine.

My brother-in-law was there and took a bunch of pictures. I'll post them up as soon as he gets them to me.

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Old 05-08-2008, 01:27 PM   #2
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Chills, thanks for the great write up !

Glad the weather held off, but sorry to hear about the last instructor

Can't wait to see the pics...

Nick
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Old 05-08-2008, 03:13 PM   #3
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Sounds like it was a great day. Glad you enjoyed it. It's tough to have more fun than tracking a Boxster.

I had a similar instructor last year. I just told him that I appreciated his advice but I do not respond well to more commands than I can process. He backed off and we agreed to focus on one part of the track at a time.

Most PCA instructors are very good and I have learned a lot from them. They are very much appreciated.
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Old 05-08-2008, 04:22 PM   #4
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Hey Chills,

Two out of three ain't bad . Glad you had fun. I am sure you learned a lot. Learning to communicate effectively as an instructor with someone you don't know at 100+mph is surely as challenging as learning to drive the line smoothly. Some instructors are better than others. Sometimes you just have a personality conflict. Any time I get mixed commands I pull in the pits for clarification and we verbally walk through the rough areas. Then back out to try it again.

In our region safety always comes first. If for any reason the driver/instructor pairing isn't working you can always come in the pits and request a change. You may lose a run group but will have a better experience overall. Other regions may do it differently but I think it is standard practice with the PCA. Good luck your next time out.
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:32 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice guys. I did have a great time and I think PCA Chicago put on a great event. I really appreciate the time all the instructors put in to teach us newbies how to handle our Porsches.

I did almost pull into the pits and tell my instructor that it wasn't working out. However, it was the last session of the day and many people already left. I wanted to get as much track time as I could.

Mr. Leeds did say in the classroom that if there we did have a personality conflict we could request a different instructor. If my bad experience had been on the first or second session I would have, but being the end of the day I just sucked it up.

I've got to bug my brother-in-law for the pics. He was doing some experimenting and got some shots where the car is in focus, but the wheels are spinning and the background is blurred.
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Old 05-09-2008, 06:25 AM   #6
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Hey Chris,

It was good to meet you at the novice event...I'm sorry I didn't have more time to spend talking with you. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your day on four wheels, as opposed to two. Boxsters are pretty amazing track cars since they're so well balanced; 911 guys (me included) have to drive one to experience the feel these cars bring. The rain was not a bad thing, as it kept speeds down and enabled participants to really concentrate on the fundamentals. I was out with my student in novice group 1, and by the end of the day, there were way too many Michael Schumacher wannabees out there missing apexes left and right.

With regard to instruction, sometimes multiple instructors can be a good thing, because you get varied opinions, allowing you to determine which approach is best. Sometimes personalities do not mesh and it can get frustrating...don't let one session spoil your experience. Do give feedback to John Ruther on your instructor experience...it sounds like like third was a bit confused as to what is the "racing line" and "off line" (you handled it correctly, BTW).

Hope to see you out there again...it was nice to see a few other green cars out there, besides mine!

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Old 05-13-2008, 12:14 PM   #7
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Hi Jerry,

It was good meeting you and seeing your 911 in person. Real men drive green. lol

I was worried about the rain at first, but like you said it did keep speeds low. I also noticed many drivers missing their turns and apexes on the last session since the track was dry.

I'll see about getting in contact with Mr. Ruther about the last instructor and give him feedback. I also want to tell him what a great job the other two did.

The whole day was really a first-rate event. I was pretty impressed. I can't wait to get out there again, and also do some Autocrossing.

I'm still waiting for my photographer to get the pics back to me. I got a sneak peak at some at the track and he took photos of many of the Porsches out on the track.

I'm also eyeing some upgrades to my BoxS... brakes being #1.
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Old 05-13-2008, 02:05 PM   #8
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Chris,

I would doubt you need to upgrade brakes...I assume you mean pad compound? Other than pads, some DOT-R compound rubber would make a world of difference over street tires; they're not meant to be tracked. The Boxster and S have far more capability than 97% of the drivers...spend your money on track days and/or driver's schools.

By all means, fax or email John Ruther your instructor thoughts...it's the only way to keep everyone up to standards. John is the owner Northstar Motorsports in Barrington and can be reach at: john@northstarmotorsports.com

Hope to see you out in the future...it was good to knock the cobwebs off!
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:08 AM   #9
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Yeah, I meant pads and better brake fluid. I used normal DOT-4 stuff.

I've been looking at tires. I hear many people recommending the Pilot Sport Cups, what do you recommend and where should I get them?
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:33 AM   #10
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Thanks for the excellent write-up. I am doing my first DE at Pocono on July 4th. I made a big investment for this event. GT3 seats, Fire Extiguisher & brackets including anti-sub bar, BK Rollbar extender, and Helmet. I guess I should pickup some real shoes and 5-6 point harness before July 4th.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:43 AM   #11
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Wow, that is quite the investment. Good luck and have fun.


I'm still waiting for the pics... I hope to have them soon.
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chills
Wow, that is quite the investment. Good luck and have fun.
Yes. it was quite an investment. I don't know what came over me. I justify the GT3 seats to myself because they are so comfortable even for weekend drives. They are black leather with Porsche crest just like my stock seats so I kept the esthetic integrity of my interior while getting track functional seats. One time expense for all these items. From here on it will just be registration fees.
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:56 PM   #13
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Sounds like a great event. My only comment with track (DOT-R, R, etc.) tires vs. street tires is that track tires are much less forgiving at the threshold. Street tires will squeel and howl at their limits before losing traction. The others are less likely to give these telltail signs. Thus, the driver (esp with less experience driving at the car's limits) will have little to no time to react.

As Jerry said... spend more time on the track and improving skills of the driver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chills
Yeah, I meant pads and better brake fluid. I used normal DOT-4 stuff.

I've been looking at tires. I hear many people recommending the Pilot Sport Cups, what do you recommend and where should I get them?
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000SoCalBoxsterS
Yes. it was quite an investment. I don't know what came over me. I justify the GT3 seats to myself because they are so comfortable even for weekend drives. They are black leather with Porsche crest just like my stock seats so I kept the esthetic integrity of my interior while getting track functional seats. One time expense for all these items. From here on it will just be registration fees.
How much did you pay for your GT3 seats?

Oh, and I must chuckle when you say you'll only be paying registration fees. There's the higher maintenance, oil changes more often, brake flushes more often, tires, and you'll probably want to upgrade more.



Cris, thanks for the advice on tires. I didn't know that about track tires. I heard my tires screeching and squealing as I was going through the turns and it was helpful to hear that "warning."
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:08 PM   #15
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My GT3 seats were $1,500 a piece. I know it's a lot of money and I could have bought used one's off ebay yada yada yada, but I didn't want used ones. I also wanted to try them before I bought them. So I did. Liked them and took a pair.

You make an excellent point about the extra maintenance, tires, oil, brake pads, brake fluid changes... how about gas? What does that cost at the track?

Well my son dropped out of college which was costing me $30K a year, and my wife just finished her Masters degree which was costing me almost $40K a year so I figure I've got about $70K in disposable income that I'm used to spending every year anyway so now I can spend it on me for a change!
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000SoCalBoxsterS
My GT3 seats were $1,500 a piece. I know it's a lot of money and I could have bought used one's off ebay yada yada yada, but I didn't want used ones. I also wanted to try them before I bought them. So I did. Liked them and took a pair.

You make an excellent point about the extra maintenance, tires, oil, brake pads, brake fluid changes... how about gas? What does that cost at the track?

Well my son dropped out of college which was costing me $30K a year, and my wife just finished her Masters degree which was costing me almost $40K a year so I figure I've got about $70K in disposable income that I'm used to spending every year anyway so now I can spend it on me for a change!
I checked out Suncoast Porsche and they were about $1500 a piece. That's a lot, but I agree there's nothing like new and genuine Porsche.

I only burned a little more than 1/4 of a tank at the track, but it was only 3 sessions. I got gas at the Shell station in town. I'm sure gas at the track is a lot more expensive.

Damn, 70K a year in disposable income? You can buy a new Boxster each year. Are you looking to adopt a 31 year old as a son?
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Old 05-19-2008, 12:37 PM   #17
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Kids and wives are expensive. I never stopped much to think about how much until now that it's over. I just kept running on the tredmill as fast as I could trying to have enough money after taxes to cover my wife and kids college and living expenses, cars, insurance... My wife has been a stay at home Mom for the last 20 years even though she's about 100 times smarter than I am (as evidenced by her staying at home while I worked) but seriously she's got a freakin genius IQ. Graduated with her Masters in SpeechPathology with a 3.97% GPA. Now she has her eye is on a Phd in Neuro Psychology ( buy while she works). Don't ask me what that is.

Anyway, I'm used to being poor even though I made a good living. Now I'm realizing that with the tutition bills over maybe I should treat myself to a nice 911 C2S next year and keep my Boxster for a track car.

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