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Get to Know Your Car

DRIVER EDUCATION IS NOT RACING. It’s an education in how to manage the handling characteristics of your Porsche, so that you can enjoy its performance near its limits. This means that many of your car’s systems are also performing near their limits. Some of the advanced group cars routinely come to the track and are driven very close to race speeds over a long period of time. Our tech inspection program is designed to make sure that your car doesn’t have parts falling off and that your car is safe to operate prior to each event, but it doesn’t address the long-term effects of near limit driving.

What brings me to mention this is a failure that my car suffered at the end of the 2019 season. After two years of being double stinted in the DE program, the exhaust connection ring on the turbo broke right off. That means that the sheer weight of the exhaust and the constant flexing due to G-forces broke the welded connection. Was it a stupid design? Yes, the weight of the stainless-steel muffler should have been better supported. Is it sufficient to patch things up after they fall off? The answer is no.

Those who race their cars consider an inspection to include a re-torque of each suspension and drivetrain nut or bolt. Nuts and bolts are fasteners and nothing causes them to fail quicker than being loose. We check our wheel nuts each morning before track yet we often neglect the nuts on the A-arms that are holding the hubs they’re attached to. Can you imagine how many times the bolts that hold your axles to your transaxle spin in one year? Was the last time they were tightened when your car was built? It’s “off” season. You have lots of time to spare, so spend a bit of it getting to know the workings of your car. Better yet, invite a couple of friends and go through all of your cars together. It’s a great social experience and you will begin a new season with confidence in your equipment.

Registration for the two Introductory Driving Schools (IDS) and the first three Driver Education events opened at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s always a thrill for me when the system opens and I see the enthusiasm of so many drivers, as they log on and sign up. As the program nears capacity it’s even more important to reserve your place in the events that you can attend, so you won’t be disappointed later. The drivers who stand on the registration podium for the 2020 season are Daniel Perossa in the white group who registered an astounding 0.13 of a second after registration opened; our first IDS registrant Leslie Francis clicked “save” at 0.16 of a second; and the third podium spot goes to Gregory Lick in white at 0.21 of a second after the opening. This has to be the closest finish ever! Congratulations to those three and to the 390 registrants who we had accepted by noon on New Year’s Day. It’s going to be a great season.

Now that registration for the first three events is open I thought I should remind everyone about the wait list. When registration first opens we take as many people as we can safely cover, prior to the bulk of the instructors signing up. We also have to leave some room for run-group movement during the first couple of events. This means that many people who are on the wait list now will still get into the event as time moves on and more instructors sign up or other registrants cancel. We also want to remind you that if something comes up so you can’t attend, you must go in and cancel or risk being accepted on the last day of registration. You will then be charged for it. The registrar doesn’t make these changes for you, as each of us is responsible for our own accounts.

Some of the newer Porsches feature an automated braking system that applies the brakes when it senses it’s too close to another car. While this may be an asset on the street, for those who don’t pay attention to their driving, it is a potential disaster on the track. Picture three cars coming into a tight corner and the middle one has the system activated. The first car slows and as the equipped car closes in on it, the brakes come on without any input from the driver. The third car is suddenly confronted by a car braking for no apparent reason. If any of them are on their limit of tire adhesion this scenario won’t end well. So if you buy a new car please make sure that you are aware of the system and turn it off each time you restart the car.

Speaking of electronics, one of the downsides of computer-controlled everything is that these systems are difficult to override when you build a “track-only” car. I have my Cayman project running pretty well, other than suspension ride height, yet I’m still haunted by all the nannies built into the car. I’ve asked around but I can’t find someone who can turn all of this stuff off for me. I have a seatbelt light, a corner-lamp warning light, an airbag warning light, a rear-wing warning light, a check-engine light, a tire-pressure light and probably many more. There is enough light coming from my dash to read in the dark in there. It also means that if something really goes wrong I’ll never know. So if anyone knows how to turn all this stuff off I’d be very grateful. I’m going blind in there!

Only one more month until the cars come out of storage. I can hardly wait!

Cheers! </>

Photos by Adrian Chan.

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