PNWR.org runs a lot of great driving programs. From social tours, to track events and everything in between. One event that I recommend to all drivers, young or old, newbie or experienced, Porsche or Toyota, is Driver Skills. These all-day classes happen 7 or 8 times a year and cover the fundamentals of high performance driving. They let you see how you and your car will respond close to the edge of performance, or beyond, in a very safe, closed course where the only thing you really risk hitting are some orange cones. The instructors are patient and give you expert advice throughout the day as you move from course to course, practicing various high performance driving skills.
Throughout the day you move between the following exercises:
- Slalom course – Can you keep your eyes well ahead of you and find the rhythm that allows you to zip cleanly through the cones at speed?
- Small and large diameter wet skid pads – Can you intentionally induce over-steer or under-steer and recover from it? What does your car feel like when you disable all of the traction control nannies and then rip around a tight circle at speed?
- Braking and accident avoidance course – It may be true that you can solve more problems with the gas than you can the brake, but here you learn to use both. Can you fly down a straight, brake hard and late, and maintain braking control through a turn? Can you respond to obstacles jumping out at you at the last second?
- Autocross – How smooth and controlled can you be making your way around a very mini-autocross setup? This is much more about car control than speed.
- Figure 8 – One of my favorites of the day because you get a sense of real speed, late braking, late apex corners and then back on the speed. I could have done this exercise all day and was finally ”dancing with the car” after two or three attempts. The backend of the Spyder is very lively but the car responds to throttle steer really well.
You don’t have to be a Porsche club member to go to Driver Skills and you don’t need a sports car to get the benefit. We had everything from a track ready Porsche GT3 to a jacked up Jeep Rubicon with a 3” lift and giant tires. That was fun to see on the skid pad!