|by Cliff Cayer
Driving events of all types in the Porsche community are certainly fantastic pleasures to be taken in. However, I find the driving events on local racetracks to be the most fun personally and for a wide variety of reasons.
Certainly most will immediately think it is because you’re driving your beloved Porsche on a racetrack at high rates of speed. While this is a great joy, it isn’t my primary joy. As I reflect on what makes the driving events special I keep coming back to one trait over and over again. For me – the camaraderie of the event is what it is all about.
My track day story starts long before we ever get to the track. In fact, my track day story starts about two months prior to the event. I work backwards to develop my plan for prepping the car. You see, when you're doing 120+ mph into turn one at ORP you want to know the car is going to stay under you. Well, now that I think about it, regardless of speed you’ll want the car to stay underneath you. I start with a tried and true method of taking the car to my shop in Portland and getting all the fluids changed for the season, putting the race exhaust on, setting up the suspension for race conditions, corner balanced and aligned, getting the race tires ready, placing the race rotors and pads on the car... basically getting the car trimmed out to be race ready. While this process is fun, I find the interaction with the guys at the shop to be the most enjoyable. Being at the shop while the car is on the lift, getting the ability to check out the beauty of the mechanical mastery that makes up a Porsche is just fantastic. The smells of the shop, race gas, grease, rubber... for me there isn’t much better. Watching your streetcar become just short of a racecar or as I like to call it, my racecar with a license plate. Watching, talking and learning from the techs working on the car, sharing what you like and don’t like and finding a balance to a solution. Time well spent with a machine you love, amongst people who share a passion for the machinery, who started out as your mechanic and now you call a friend.
In my case I’m extremely lucky, I have a family tie to driving Porsches that extends beyond just my friends at the shop: my father-in-law -- you all know him as Don Clark. Dad loves to drive and as you know he has a subtle and fantastic tune on his Boxster S. One that I had the luxury of driving on track this time. It was a blast to drive such a well-balanced machine – thank you.
Although the fun doesn’t end there, as Dad’s longest and best friend – Steve Scholz is also a car nut and participates with us in his beautiful sounding Panamera S. Three guys, their three cars and our adoring wives supporting us. Family fun at the racetrack – it doesn’t get much better than this.
This sets the stage for a wonderful day. Once on track we get down to the business of driving wide open and having a good time. I really enjoy track time and this event was no disappointment. I enjoy the gentlemanly sparring that takes place corner after corner as we hurl our cars around the course. Mastering the inputs, so they are a fluid movement of one. Throttle, brakes, steering, shifting all separate yet once combined become a fluid movement, a dance between man, machine and tarmac. The slow roll on of throttle as you apex a corner, with small inputs at the wheel, only interrupted briefly as you snap the next gear, to be followed quickly by a constant pressure on the brake pedal, the blip of the throttle as you heal and toe and the simple elegant downshift as you enter the next corner, only to be released in that exact moment where you get to slowly roll back into the throttle and pick up that most enjoyable run to redline before your next upshift. This dance of the pedals is the only dancing I know how do to... much to my wife’s dismay.
While on track, performing my dance I particularly enjoy finding a certain M&M green 911 that I have come to enjoy reading the phrase “Got Lime." Some may think it is because we most likely have the two brightest cars on track... it actually comes from knowing he has one of the most well prepped cars I’ve seen. I think he and I share a love for being anal. Mike has always shared with me on track and is always a joy to talk with. In fact, it is his sharing of his car with an instructor and allowing me to follow him, for which I would like to say thank you. While he was able to share his car with an instructor, I was able to follow and learn new lines around some of the more difficult corners at ORP. I certainly owe him a beer or two for the experience.
However, something I noted as I reflect back to write this. The M&M green “Got Lime” Porsche was much more than just a well prepared, really fast racecar on Saturday. It was a vehicle for sharing, not only for me, but more importantly for Mike’s family, as well, as Mike shared his love of Porsches and driving them on the edge with his son and good friend. I seem to recall huge smiles on all their faces.
I also noted that our fearless leader, Tim, had his nephew with him to share in the day’s delights. I believe he was even given a ride in one of the Porsches by our expert instructors available throughout the day. More smiles for all to be had.
In closing, track days are more than just driving fast. They are about the camaraderie shared amongst family and friends, in preparation, and time spent on and off track. If you haven’t taken the time to come drive or even watch, I encourage you do so. It is a great atmosphere to explore both your car’s and your own ability at speed in a legal environment.