By Michael Tashjian
Man’s carbon footprint is one of the most controversial and manageable environmental issues that face us today. Via the Obama administration’s mandate that manufacturer’s fleets must achieve an average 54.5 mpg to meet its CAFÉ standard over the next 8 years, manufacturers have accelerated the development of alternative energy sources at a pace only comparable to the space program prior to said Ex-President. Okay; cheap shot. Surely, the Trump administration, on their Detroit/US manufacturing campaign promise, will scale back these stringent regulations slightly, but this will not have an immediate impact on models already in the works and corporate plans to become more competitive and innovative in the hybrid space. Porsche/VW has taken a proactive approach to efficiency over the past 5 years with calculated risk. Porsche has Introduced the 919 Hybrid racecar and 918 Spyder, both of which utilize a combustion and electric motor along with a recovery system as not just a marketing tool, but also to build a real path into Porsche showrooms. For the time being, the E Performance program seems to be stagnant with the Cayenne and Panamera models not exactly setting the market on fire, but I assure you, this is a temporary setback. Porsche has and will continue to push the envelope, just recently introducing the Panamera Turbo S E Hybrid, which is now one of the fastest sedans ever built with 680hp.
The obvious question is whether or not to go out and purchase a hybrid or not. Many things must be considered, such as your geographic location, application, and faith. Yes, faith plays a part in all new technologies. There was a time when we thought that alphanumeric pagers were the future but yet a more efficient, reliable, and affordable cellular phone was right around the corner. I, for one, can say the Porsche hybrid system is one of the most efficient and reliable thus far, so yes, I am a believer. The next question is what will be the typical use of your Porsche. Daily driving? And if so, will you be in traffic or open highway driving? This is an important question, as the fuel savings may or may not be outweighed by the initial higher cost of a hybrid model. And what about your geographic location? If you live in a rural area, there are other factors to consider, such as never seeing a charging station and the neighborhood mechanic being unable to diagnose and/or fix a hybrid issue. And lastly, you’re already getting pretty good fuel economy with most any Porsche model for highway use.
I wonder though, is all this hybrid hype about efficiency? I am a believer in a performance sports car offering the best performance, and am slightly embarrassed to say that fuel efficiency is not on the top of my list. I think it is fair to say that many of us would not be spending our valued Porsche option dollars on something more fuel efficient when that money can be better spent on Porsche crest embossed headrests or painted ventilation slates. But mark my words, the next generation of Porsche buyer will consider the cooler option-Hybrid sporting the fender where the ‘oh-so-cool’ SL 600 used to say V12. Wouldn't that be a hoot.
By Michael Tashjian
Technical Chair Metro NY
Another spring season is upon us here in New York City, and another GT3 has hit the market with Instgram pictures of allocations and build sheets. It may be age speaking, but have we been down this road before? Yes. 2004, 2007, 2009 2011, 2014 all marked a new and marketed as improved GT3. Was that a question? Maybe so. I would say improvement has many definitions dependent upon the buyer’s expectations. For some it may be pure horsepower, and others a more refined interior to enjoy off the track. To each is own is my mantra. Here are some pointers you should ask before dropping $150k+ on the newest and coolest toy on the market. At least until the GT4 RS.
Am I looking for Performance on the street or track?
Without reiterating what is already on the awesome interactive website our friends at Porsche AG have built for the 991.2 GT3, the 4-liter, 9000rpm, dry sump, PDK standard/Manual Optional gearbox, and lightweight construction equals fast no matter how you slice it and dice it. So fast that 90%+ of owners will never have the chance to drive it at its peck performance stats. On the track the new GT3 promises to be the best and most forgiving production 911 to date while still retaining the raw GT feel Porsche owners have become accustomed to. With a top speed of 198mph I am willing to test and report back should the opportunity arise.
I must admit that if your in the GT3 market @ $148K you don’t mind the additional 10% in cost that gets you full bucket seats ($5200), front axle lift ($2590), PDLS ($2900), and the Extended fuel tank ($140), Miami Blue ($4200) because why not, for a grand total of $160K. The only other car that even comes close is the Lamborghini Huracan starting @ $200K. And remember for that additional $50K you can spend boatloads more to option out and maintain.
Clear Winner: 991.2 GT3
Not too much to report beyond the strips on the full bucket seats which right off the bat sold me. If that does not scream I spent $150K wisely not much does. The rear wing now dawns the 4.0 badging and overall high increase of .8’’ over Gen1 991 GT3, with massive air intake rams built of carbon fiber. The redesigned front bumper allows for more airflow and better aerodynamics in the form of down force. Interior accents, LED this and Apple that, you get the picture. And of course those of you who are able to get the Club Sport package well good for you I guess. Fortunately the interior dimensions match that of the 991.1 so all harness bars, roll cages, etc. will convert over. All things considered it is a very handsome looking GT3. But, and this is a very big but, the next generation GT3 MUST be able to compete head to head with Ferrari and MB in the finishing’s department. Yes I know it is a track car built for men who don't even need AC! But when the price starts creeping up to the cost of a medical degree, well I am going to expect full leather as standard, and the choice of ANY color at no additional cost. Take note Germany.
For more Porsche stories and past articles visit www.formulamotorsports.com/blog and leave comments with ideas for future articles.
by Michael Tashjian
911R -I love you. Typically a phrase reserved for your wife, child, or mother, but
today many use it with the 2016 911R in mind. The new 911 R pays homage to the
911R of 1967 of which only 20 examples were produced. The 2016 911R had
production capped at 991 (of course), which makes it one of the rarest modern
models from Porsche. Every few years Porsche comes out with some sort of unique
911 with a catchy name like & "Design Edition" "Black Edition" "Millennium"
typically to clear out the model generation chassis/panels to make room for either
the facelift or completely new design. Enthusiasts and admirers alike take notice
when a badging in particular occurs, such as GT, RS, GTS, and obviously R. For
the past 25 years I personally have been waiting for a pure, honest, uncompromising
911 to hit the shelves of my local Porsche dealer. In the early 90's it was the RS
America and today it is the 911R. To say it was love at first site may be a stretch as
the allocations had already been filled an oddly enough I was not given one, I knew I
should have picked up a 918 with the Porsche financial 200 year payment plan.
Once I got over the initial depression of not expecting a delivery of a 911R I decided
to wait patiently to drive one. In the interim I spent my days drooling over images of the bucket seats and stripes down the hood. After many agonizing months of
waiting I finally had a client bring one by for a protective wrap and obvious invitation to test the car out together on the Grand Central. Before reverse was even engaged I knew this was the 911 for me. The rattling of the flywheel, raw unadulterated sound of the exhaust, and snug fitment of my athletic physic in the houndstooth upholstered bucket seat sold me to the tune of 200K over list at the time. Before things go form PG to rated R in my driving experience lets looks at some quick stats:
3021 lbs. -seriously they could not shave the 21 lbs. to make it an even number ;-)
4.0-liter engine from the GT3RS
8500 rpm down from 8800 on the GT3RS due to the
6 speed manual transmission
Auto Blip under sport mode for those of you with little feet
Carbon Front hood
Plexiglas rear and side windows (NON US)
19 produced and additional 4 prototypes
210 horsepower @ 8000 rpm
(1) Fitted with Sportomatic
Titanium connecting rods
Doors, fenders, hood fiberglass
No ashtrays or sun visors
Now back to the almost sexually explicit description of the first drive that may not be suitable for all readers. As I finally slide into first gear and released the clutch of
which is almost orgasmic, the car took off with more grace than any other Porsche I
have driven before. It was smooth but violent. Nervous but controlled. Sort of the
utopian environment described to you at a young age of which you equated only to
some girl named Mandy or Nicole. The scream from the 4.0 liter motor through the
exhaust is only comparable to “watching a movie” in the basement of your girlfriends house in high school. Brakes, well the PCCB is just perfect-nuf said. Driver comfort? Oddly enough it is like a Lexus with a tubular chassis and RS spyder
driving position coupled with a 959 sense of entitlement. The rest of the experience
I am holding onto as to share it would leave the readers blush. If/when at all possible get behind the wheel and I promise the experience will be ______. I LOVE THIS CAR.
THE NEW PANAMERA
By- Michael Tashjian Tech Chair
WOW! Gone is the Chrysler Crossfire rear end, and so comes
the ever graceful circa 1978 928 silhouette. The anticipation of
a redesigned Panamera has been flooding social media around
the world basically since the Panamera was first launched to
criticism many moons ago. Yesterday’s unveiling in Berlin was
a carefully orchestrated media event live streamed to millions.
Certainly a success, but not without a minor hiccup one week
prior. As usual, a Chinese blogger had the stock photo up a few
days before, as we have seen with everything from new
iPhones to nuclear tests in Korea. One I guess could make the
argument Porsche leaked the picture to entice enthusiasts to
watch the live stream and post it to Facebook- yes I was one of
The 2017 Panamera is a ground up build with the latest
gadgets and luxuries one would expect from a 500 million Euro
investment. Buyers can choose initially between a 440 on the
Turbo V6 and 550 horsepower Turbo V8 engine coupled with a
16% advantage in fuel economy- owe. Porsche will announce a
Diesel to come at a later date- no thanks. Rear wheel steering,
LCD screens just about everywhere, new bucket seats, and gear
selector that rivals that of the Viking 92’ bow thruster. All of
these systems will probably require at least a weekend and a
bottle of scotch to learn, but I am sure once they are mastered
will provide the driver with an effortless commute on the LIE
@ 7am traveling at a blistering 15mph.
Porsche is claiming the new Panamera is the fastest production
sedan in the world. Yes we have all seen the video from the
Ring by now. For me this is not the selling point. For years I
have been saying if you want a sedan buy a MB S550 since @
100K purchase price you get all the luxuries a sports sedan can
offer. NO LONGER. Porsche designers have stepped up their
game and gone beyond the wish list of all the enthusiasts and
soon to be former 7 series and S class clientele. The
arrangement of gauges and driver position in relation to the
road is comparable only to the 911. I have no doubt that this
will be the best selling Porsche to hit the showroom floor, ever.
At a starting price of 100K (yeah right), it is going to crush both
BMW and Mercedes from every aspect. If your in the market
for a wicked fast luxury sedan and have what I am guessing
around 125K in cash burning a hole in your pocket call your
Porsche dealer and get on the list now. The 2017 Panamera is
sure to be the hottest car on the road this winter.
By Michael Tashjian
Fourteen short years ago, the world of Porsche was rocked when its fans heard that their beloved sports car purveyor was delving into the fashionable, luxury SUV space. Still in its infancy with only BMW and Mercedes Benz having a piece of i, it was a wisely calculated gamble from our friends in Stuttgart. In years prior, companies like Chrysler and Ford made a killing in the minivan market and SUVs were now the obvious replacement. Fourteen years later, it is safe to say that the executives at Porsche are heroes in both the eyes of shareholders and enthusiasts, alike.
The Generation 1 2003 Cayenne was equivalent to the Panzer tank, no doubt about it: robust, with an understated silhouette, limited gadgets, and 18’’ wheels that could take the pounding of NYC streets. Sure there were a few inherent issues like coolant line failures, rear trunks that would smack you in that little point on your skull that would knock you border line unconscious, and side marker faulty lights that beep still today, but overall, it was a great package. I myself had to wait 14 years for another Cayenne to come along that tickled my fancy. Generation 2 was, quite frankly, lacking innovation in my eyes. Maybe it needed a touch more interior sophistication that most any Porsche automobile should possess? And then, Generation 3 came along. Ahh, a new beginning! At first glance, there is a lot of glitz and glam. But believe it or not, all of those little buttons and pretty little screens on the dashboard actually do serve a purpose outside of impressing the date your trying to convince that evening.
The new Cayenne is as capable of an off-road SUV as it is a serious performance car. Having had the opportunity to test the Cayenne, S, Hybrid, Turbo, and exclusive Turbo S (MSRP 221K loaded), I can tell you that each of these models is worth its weight in gold. Okay, maybe I am getting a little carried away with myself.
Many…scratch that, very, very few us will ever be racing up Pikes Peak or negotiating a 70% decline with our Cayenne. But does that really matter? We would not argue that the 205 mph GT2RS is not a necessity, so the reality is that although the new Cayenne looks pretty and decadent, the technologies it possesses are second to none in the high-end luxury SUV space and provide a rugged off-road purpose. When choosing the off-road mode that best suits the adventure you’re about to embark on, you can choose to fully lock the multi-plate clutch, which from experience, sends the car up whatever (and I do mean, whatever) may lie ahead. Further, the electronically controlled rear differential included in PTV Plus can be fully locked in an additional mode. Brake assisted hill decent, air suspension and a slew of control provide the driver with effortless and limitless possibilities. Outside of a tree taking you out, there’s not much stopping the new Cayenne.
Wow! The Turbo and Turbo S alike are completely insane on the track. I kid not, the new Cayenne Turbo takes turns like a Cayman, brakes like a 911 and takes off like no other SUV I have ever driven. Gliding around a right-hander at 110 mph is confidence inspiring, and taking brake point 2, although it seems suicidal at first, is child’s play by lap two. PDDC Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control which reduces roll along with Porsche Torque Vectoring which, depending on the steering angle and steering speed, accelerator pedal position, yaw rate and vehicle speed, optimizes steering response and precision by selectively applying brake pressure to the left or right rear wheel. It is an effort to get the car to break away, even on polished payment with 2’’ of ice. Your right foot is wondering why your slamming down the accelerator over and over and I have no doubt that the car is also asking the same question.
Porsche exclusive has gone above and beyond in this department. There is a considerable difference in leather quality, as well as all carbon/aluminum/wood. I was fortunate enough to test a fully loaded Cayenne Turbo S that had every possible option: leather dash with deviated stitching; leather air vents and leather wrapped vent slates; two-tone seats; even a leather rear view mirror. It would take up the entirety of my allotted two pages to go through each of them. Let’s just say it gloriously smelled like the Dunhill flagship store on Madison Ave. The 18-way Adaptive space shuttle seats are comfortable enough that if you spent every penny you have on the options, you could still live happily in it with a family of four without a single complaint. The overall environment spews affluence and success. Trump would be the perfect spokesman for the car as it is clearly for a winner. As for me, I would be hard pressed to drop 221K on an SUV, but clearly there is a market for this type of exclusive, handcrafted interior. I could deal with the extended leather package along with 18-way seats and be content.
Buy one. When deciding on your next SUV, whether coming out of a Range Rover Supercharged, Mercedes Benz AMG or BMW 5.0, ask yourself, ‘What is my driving purpose?’. If your answer is that you’re looking for an exhilarating ride while not compromising on reliability, then the Cayenne is for you. Another added benefit is the residual value on the Cayenne as opposed to all other SUV’s on the market today. Dollar for dollar, you cannot beat it against any other mark.
by Michael Tashjian
by Michael Tashjian
Every young man can recall his first glimpse of the Turbo insignia as seen from the backseat of his parents station wagon as the object of desire whistled by. Dad said, “Cool” Mom said “No.” A short story filled with awe and emotion, this moment would captivate the young man’s mind for many years to come. For what is more American for most young boys than the fascination of girls and cars? For some, this experience is what kept us determined later in life while working the night shift to pay for University, not for education or wish of a better world, but rather the ultimate prize of capturing Chimera.
Let’s set the stage: 1974, the Paris motor show and Porsche is about to unveil the most significant achievement to come out of Stuttgart since the acclaimed Carrera RSR. The German economic environment is dismal, at best; the U.S. is concentrating more on Richard Nixon’s resignation and a 55mph speed limit throughout the US to limit fuel consumption than the newest sexy sports cars of Europe and the Don Juan types that pilot them. Fortunately, Porsche’s engineers are not deterred from their goal of producing and manufacturing a sports wagon that will compete and beat it’s Italian nemesis, Ferrari. Sporting a 3.0-liter single Turbocharged power plant, wider stance, stiffer suspension thanks to upgraded torsion bars and Bilstein shocks, this new Porsche is about to change everything.
Fast-forward 42 years to the NA International Motor Show in Detroit, MI, the birthplace of the automobile and home of the salt-of-the-earth, American workingman. Its fans have already drooled over the pictures in magazines, heard rumors of tests from pretty boy Internet reviewers (okay, that was below the belt), and certainly have read a plethora of technical specifications, both mind boggling and exhilarating. It seems as though Porschinits are always talking about the next “Turbo.” This time, however, the Turbo is a little different. Different because most Porsches are now Turbo’s; wait, is this even politically correct to say yet? But certainly all of these new Porsche Turbo’s are NOT Turbo’s. The 991.2 Turbo is everything that is [still] right with the world. Virtually no Turbo lag, even though we have heard this before. Seriously though, this time it’s different; we have something called Dynamic Boost Function, also known as the Flux Capacitor! The 991.2 Turbo is as refined and handsome of a GT car bred with the likes of GT2 performance as you can ask for while not deviating from its core purpose. Sub 2.8 second 0-60 time surly to get your PBA card revoked, a price tag of almost 200K for the S a 30K premium from standard Turbo model because F it at that point your probably headed for divorce anyway, and bragging rights on the trading desk of your new toy that make Mandy the new intern now the second most popular HiRes wallpaper.
Sorry, went off on a bit of a personal fantasy there. Let’s get back on track and talk Turbo specs. 3.8 liters (as opposed to the new Carrera at 3.0, respectively), 580 ponies (sure to be 800 ponies after we get a hold of the software), fuel consumption (no, I do not care), 205 mph downhill before breakfast under the most optimal atmospheric pressure and tailwind conditions some PhD in aerospace could find, all wheel drive for the dare devil taking his car to Sugarbush Mid March, and an interior fit for a king as long as you get the natural leather option for 1500 USD extra. The 991.2 may not look so very different from its predecessor 991.1 but I assure you, from every aspect, it is. When developing any product it is never any one change or improvement, but the total package that warrants placing an ad in the Post Classifieds for your “old” 991.1 Turbo.
Imagine the Imperial Landing Craft and the 356 B meeting at a bar and having a wild, irresponsible night drinking Scotch and Moonshine, resulting in a 991.2 Turbo. While retaining the elegance and pizzazz of the Porsche silhouette and understanding and implementing what today’s Facebook employee craves, the designers and engineers have produced what I consider to be the best looking Porsche to date. Please understand that I’m also a big fan of the 991.2 Targa. Up until, and including the 993 Turbo, I always felt Porsche begged the market to embrace and coddle the original 911. Sure, I’m nostalgic, but not while compromising performance. The balance achieved with the 991.2 is only comparable to Picasso’s Nude and blooming of the Bleeding Heart.
Type 930 is considered to be the pinnacle of the 1980’s. We knew the pilot was a driver. We new the owner was a success. And we knew we wanted one. Now with the kids out of college and [mostly] off the payroll, maybe we can adorn our garage with one, too. The 930 coupe’ and cabriolet with its husky stance, 15’’ Fuchs, and flared fenders makes a statement just as much today as it did pulling up to Danceteria on a fall night with a girl named Lorraine in the passenger seat draped in Calvin Klein. (Well, you had your Cavaricci’s on, so don’t pass judgment.) It was the simplicity of the time that warranted such a sport cars. A sports car that did what most all sports car should do: induce sex appeal while offering uncompromised reliability tooling through downtown or gallivanting throughout Western Europe. One of the most iconic parts would certainly be the tail, which would be modified, botched in most cases, and returned to its original glory over the course of 30 years.
The Porsche owner is generally man or woman who demands function over form. No need for the swanky Scuderia Shield adorned on the fenders, or bull-charging on the steering wheel. Just pure, unadulterated speed with self-preservation listed at three or four on the list of priorities, but what other way is there to truly live? Without getting too in depth with acronyms and numbers, the 991.2 Turbo is the best-packaged sports car on the market today. Light, powerful, efficient, comfortable and reliable. This should be Webster’s definition of sports car.
The 930 Turbo of the time was not much different. New, state-of-the-art technologies such as intercoolers later on in the production, intermittent windshield wipers, a boost pressure gauge to show off to your Corvette friends, a brake power booster and illuminated heater controls, ow-ooowwww. Let’s not forget the light on the dash with its duel purpose for seatbelt and ebrake that is unfortunately NLA right now as a replacement. I would be amiss to also not make mention of the updated 4 speed transmission capable of handling a ludicrous BHP of 245.
And now the obituary of the 991.1 and its ancestors. I will not make a claim that I myself do not adore the type 930, 993 Turbo, and yes even 996 Turbo, for it has provided me with years of summer thrills sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on Montauk Hwy. What must be said is that the 991.2 Turbo is the greatest achievement in the 911 line since the 993 Turbo. Its mere attendance in any crowd is sure to conjure up debate about the BEST sports car ever produced. I know I would take the Pepsi challenge any day of the week against the likes of 488, LP 610-4, or most production sports car on the market today. This is a car marketed to those who will not compromise on function. The 991.2 has just as many new bells and whistles as the type 930 did in 1974. But this time, it comes packaged in a luxury, 200mph+, all wheel drive, true Gran Turismo that the wife would be happy to pilot with the kids strapped into the back.
“Ring, Fazination” is an exhibition next to the “GP” or “New” circuit on the southern end of the Nürburgring, where kids and parents alike enjoy virtual games and entertainment. Just a “click” north of this facility ties the ultimate amusement, a true parallel; hence my sobriquet for the 20.8 kilometer long Nordschleife.
Journeyman drivers know the feeling. You arrive at a new track and find yourself wrapped in the unmistakable aura of fear. Not for having an “Incident,” heaven forbid, but recognition of course difficulty, coupled to peer pressure and loss of youth, an inevitable conflict in a driver of age and wisdom, which he must address prior to the drivers meeting.
English Channel crossings can be macabre in the dawn of a dank winter’s end. Indeed, the powerful sea sprayed salted air under my feet as I stood at the bow of an unfolding French April day. The vast concreted port of Calais lay before my feet. Loudspeakers bawled as livery and tourists padded. their way along the transport’s decks and I stole time to unwrap my mind’s thinly veiled trance, replete with images of turns arriving way too fast for me. Monocratic in tone, the systematic notice echoed throughout the quarterdeck of our Channel ferry, becoming more momentous as the enormous gangplank hydraulics moaned in the background, its cumbersome weight giving way to the marmalade skies of this French embarcation zone. The ticking within me began.
Randy Sesson, Metro’s man in London, held his Range Rover readying at idle as I proceeded to engage the mandated English lock mechanism of his 993 modified Twin turbo. With Europeans gripped in fear, the containment procedure of the dreaded hoof and mouth disease mandated my crossing a wetted trough upon arrival in territorial France. Subjective delousing complete, we made serious tracks due east along the coast. Preoccupation with the subsequent morning’s drivers meeting accompanied my drive, creeping in and around any enjoyment of this continental traverse.
Crossing the border into Belgium at speeds averaging 180 kph, with nary an official stamp nor gendarme in sight, our efforts led us south, then east again. Morning mist had burned away hours before and the midday sunlight saluted us as we passed Spa Francorchamps, the world class course on which I took my first professional drive. Ahh! Spa and The Ring, a duet of early rituals of passage, a validation of youthful exuberance, late braking, early apexes encapsulated with the hubris of life without end, one big party. Less than two hours later, my thirst quenched by the hospitality of good German beer, we relaxed and planned our driving stints at this most formidable racing venue in the world—Nordschleife Nürburgring. Both Randy and I enjoyed the local cuisine, wild boar and venison, as we dined with an old friend who had traveled 600 kilometers from Stuttgart to discuss the purchase of a GT3RS and the logistics accompanying this purchase.
Hotel Rieder’s guest book documents the great motorsports figures who, for more than half a century, awoke to the visual effects that accommodate Eifel Mountains living, in and around the Nordschleife. Their signatures remain an affirmation of how this region has been so untouched by the outside world in the decades since my last stay. Ensconced by this sleepy hamlet a mere three kilometers from my temple of the tarmac god, our window opened to a panorama of endless pastures and mountains, beckoning the driver within us all.
Attention is carefully paid at a drivers meeting. for the Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring. Along with the usual safety discussion comes something unique to this venue: CPR instruction and a host of other ambulatory principles. You see, when you drive 170 turns, drivers must look out for one another. If an accident occurs, one must pull over and minister to the helpless in the wreck, mandated by the sheer magnitude of the area we play within. Several minutes or more may pass before medical professionals arrive at the crash site. Novice drivers drew in the flavor of this experience with gaunt looks at each other. Unfortunately, rescues would be needed during the competition. The degree of skill and course recognition and concentration needed throughout their driving stints was underestimated by the. too fast or foolish.
Taught by several veteran regional drivers, my earlier experiences with this track an its 300 meter elevation changes disciplined my first several laps. “Mauk,” (my teacher had a German affectation with my name), “Mauk, ve moost drife dees truck ass ve drife de roads aroond it.” Vernacular aside, he meant that negotiating these many turns would have to be done as if you were driving a country road at racing speeds, with eyes telescoped, looking for openings in the treetops that hint at where the road is headed. He also taught me to break down the track into the well defined sections you see on the track map. Most importantly, he had stressed the mind and how it would tire because of the intense concentration, before my young body would succumb to fatigue.
Similarities to Bridgehampton could suffice for any of you who have become familiar with blind turn recognition. Blind turn description does little justice to the actual awakening one experiences at 220 kph when negotiating a rise and then dropping into a sharp bend in the Forst of Adenauer with nary a thought of preparing a set of pedal and wheel movements to the left, no right, no left - BAM, you’re dead.
Weather is very much an issue within the confines of this mountain region and at 20 kilometers in length, “Jurassic Ring” in April was mystifying. Intense rain greets a fast car very fast indeed, yet three “clicks” farther along the sun warms spectators sitting in high perches, positioned for the best views of short sections of road. I try to choose a really scary part of the “Ring Fazination,” as they call it, but can’t. Maybe it has to do with the number of puzzle parts that scare the s— out of me.
Being fast there is remembering every section, intimately. Randy benefited froun my prior experience. I benefited from a humble approach to certain sections. The first and last thirds of this Black Forest cake was within my grasp by the third lap, as I familiarized myself with the old landmarks taught to me so long ago. It was the section after Adenauer Forst, on our way down to the lowest sections and working back up through Bergwerk that kept me from the confidence level I had adopted when younger. Kesselchen made me look good a’s my right foot felt comfortable planted on the accelerator, and the right turn before Karussell was comfortable in a 4-wheel drift. (Several wrecks there.) Interestingly, Karussell was and is easy for me to drop into and pop out of, carrying good speed up Hohe Acht, setting up for Wippermann. Schwalbenschwanz is important, as all turns coming into a fast section are, for now that it has been cleared we begin the fastest part of The Ring, a killer straight that seems to go on forever. As I quickly shift into 6th, one eye jogs to the gauges and looks for 6,200 rpm while the complementary eyeball is watching cars we’re passing.
While seeing 300 kph, Forever could be terminated, if one does not respect the bridge and its kink to the left. Quick! Lift on the gas pedal, make a minor movement with the wheel and SLAM, the gas pedal is punished again, albeit only for the short stint before arriving at Hohenrein.
We logged over 70 laps and my best time was 8:04. Randy’s level of skill grew to a point where I felt he was most comfortable. We drove the first day with the GP circuit included… very cool.
Pounding rain dogged our ride back to Calais and London. Ten hours back, whew. There is no substitute. Bring on the “Fazination!”
Porsche Then and Now - A view from PNCA Atlanta
The first Porsche I can remember is an 83 911 Turbo my father converted into a "Flatness" (not to be confused with the slantnose, before it became fashionable) using a 928 front bumper, 928 headlight assemblies, and a slew of other unique alterations both performance based and atheistically. Sadly over the past decade we have seen less and less of these unique cars on the roadways of America and in the hands of skilled technicians. Having just returned from Porsche Cars North America new facility located in Atlanta as part of the Porsche Classics advisory panel its apparent many of our wishes will now be granted.
One Porsche drive is exactly what one would expect from the German purveyor of style and class. Sleek but yet sophisticated with all the bells and whistles that a blank check will provide. Surprisingly though much of the effort has been directed towards the classics. Both Race cars and street alike they certainly remind me of days past. Upon entry your greeted by non other than the 917 with Gulf livery propped up on a pedestal with a plaque describing its heritage. All around the facility are reminders of yesterday and what to expect from tomorrow. Perhaps one of the coolest things is a wall filled with every Porsche model ever built in matchbox car size. Very cool addition to those of us with an extra wall to fill in our Central Park West pad. Needless to say when asked if this collection was for sale I was told that out of everything in the building this was one of the most time consuming- figure it. All in all the level of achievement from an architectural standpoint somehow does not hold a candle to the current and classic Porsche's that are stored there for both clients and owed by PCNA. Certainly a trip here will be a treat to all both young and not as young ;-)
The 911 is arguably comparable to a fine timepiece. It's near appearance forces us to reminisce. All of us can recall the first time one zoomed by- perhaps as a child in the 1960's or as teenager in the 80's. For many of you this is a fond memory of limited responsibly and dreams of grandeur. Many, if not all of us have realized this dream in one fashion or another. Porsche ownership is more than a self recognition of success, or a means of that sought after adrenaline rush- no no, it has become part of who we are and who we had aspired to be. For some of you it may be a wall street type hopping into a 87 cabriolet while you walked to your first interview, and for many others it was simply a fantasy they wanted to live out of cruising on a winding road with goggles, and of course the leaves blowing behind- yes most any 80's car ad. I will make the assumption that readers are in fact current or past Porsche owners and admirers and fully understand this fantasy.
Porsche has always been synonymous with quality, performance, and a graceful silhouette. It is now time to preserve this valuable timepiece for generations to come to enjoys. Fortunately Porsche AG has answered your prays with Porsche Classic. Porsche Classic has dedicated years of resources to compile over 52,000 ORIGINAL parts for your Classic Porsche. NO other company can even come close to the sheer mass of classic car parts built with the quality standards we have all expected of a Porsche Genuine branded part.
HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DO IT?
Porsche Classic has listened and is offering most all necessary items to keep you classic Porsche performing and looking like new. RS 1/4 panels- Yup still made by hand (30 labor hours), that little thing behind the door handle you can't even find on the microfilm- yup that too ;-) Each quarter they will be releasing new parts to the public and will continue to do so. Perhaps this was due to their sheer appreciation of the Porsche owner or the fact that values are up between 100%-200% over the past couple of years on most models. Either way it is a God send as the dismantle rs have less on their shelves and aftermarket/OEM parts that are sold on the net usually do not live up to their description. Fortunately these Porsche classic parts are as good as if not better than the original. New processes' and materials will offer longer life as well as better fitment than new. Of course this comes with a price but we can all agree you get what you pay for.
IS MY PORSCHE WORTHY?
Silly question to 99% of Porsche owners, but one that needs to be answered. Without going on and on about appreciation, currency valuations, inflation, etc. Let's assume you own a good car- i.e. she runs and can be washed without paint chips falling off. Most any model built between 1950-1998 has appreciated from its initial purchase to the tune of 100%+. As I tell all Porsche owners, the only thing that brings value is originality. Color combinations, wings, etc is certainly nice but nothing beats a well cared for original car. If you own a good example of the Porsche car certainly it is worth it to purchase and install genuine parts that you know fit and will be reliable for years to come. Not to mention the lack of headaches most aftermarket parts cause.
For those of you out there with a classic Porsche that demands the best, Porsche Classic website will be your newest favorite. Be sure to investigate who provides Porsche Classic parts and service exclusively and ask to see the box. Even when it comes to packaging these parts they got it right!
“Ring-Fazination” is an exhibition stationed next to the “GP’ or “new” circuit on the southern end of Nurburgring. Kids and parents alike enjoy games and entertainment in a virtual surrounding. Just a “click” north within the bounds of the facility lie the ultimate amusements..a true parallel. hence my synonym of the Nordschleife.
Journeyman drivers know the feeling. You arrive at a new track and find yourself wrapped in the unmistakable aura of fear. Not for having an “incident”, heaven forbid. Recognition of course difficulty, coupled to peer pressure and loss of youth, an inevitable conflict in a driver of age and wisdom which he must address prior to the drivers meeting.
English Channel crossings can be macabre at the dawn of dank winters end; indeed the powerful sea sprayed salted air under my feet as I stood at the bow of an unfolding French dawn. The vast concreted port of Calais lay before my feet. Loudspeakers tolled as livery and tourists padded their way along the transports decks, and I stole time to unwrap my mind’s thinly veiled trance replete with pictures of turns arriving way too fast for me. Monocratic in tone, the systematic notice echoed our arrival throughout the quarterdeck of this wind swept Channel ferry, becoming more momentous as the enormous gangplank hydraulics moaned in the background. Such cumbersome weight giving way to the marmalade skies of a French embarkation zone. A ticking within me began.
Randy Sesson, our clubman in London, held his Range Rover readying at idle as I proceeded to engage the mandated English lock mechanism of his 993 modified Twin Turbo. With Europeans gripped in fear, the containment procedure of a much dreaded Foot and Mouth disease mandated my crossing a wetted trough upon arrival in territorial France. Subjective delousing complete, we made serious tracks due east along the French coast. Preponderancy occupied my drive with the subsequent morning driver meeting creeping in and around any thoughts of enjoying this continental traverse.
Crossing the boarder into Belgium at speeds averaging 180KPH with nary an official stamp nor gendarme in sight, our efforts led us south then east again. Morning mist burned away hours before as the midday sunlight gave salute to our passing by Spa-Francochamps, a world class race course in which I had my first professional drive. Ahh! Spa and the Ring, duets of an earlier passage of rite, a validaton of youthful exuberance, late braking, and early apexes encapsulated with the hubris of life without end, one big party. Less than two hours later, my lips quenched with the hospitality of a good German beer, we relaxed to plan our driving stints at the most formidable racing venue in the World, the Nordschlief, The Nurburgring! Enjoying a local cuisine consisting of wild boar and venison, an old friend joined us. His 600 Kilometer excursion, made very briskly by the 12 cylinders of his Mercedes, helped in promoting our discussing the purchase of a GT3RS and logistics associated within this process.
Hotel Rieder, pictorially typical to this region, has a guest book in which documents the great motorsports figures who, for more than half a century, awoke to the visual effect that accommodate Eiffel mountain living, in and around the Nordschleif. Their signatures remain a reaffirmation of how this region has been so untouched from the outside world, in the decades since my first stay. Ensconced by this sleepy hamlet a mere 3 kilometers from my temple of the tarmac God, our morning window opened to a picture of endless pastures and mountains beckoning the driver within us all.
Attention is carefully paid at a driver meeting, for the Nordschleife section of Nurburgring. Along with the usual safety discussion comes something unique to this venue, CPR and a host of other ambulatory principles. You see, when you drive 170 turns, drivers must look out for one another. If an accident occurs, one must pull over and minister to the helpless in the wreck, mandated by the shear magnitude of the arena we play within. Several minutes, or more, may pass before medical treatment professionals arrive at the crash site. Novice drivers drew in the flavor of this experience with gaunt looks at each other. Unfortunately, these ambulatory methods would be needed throughout the competition. A comprehensive skill of course recognition and concentration throughout your driving stint was underestimated by the too fast or foolish.
Taught by several veteran regional drivers, my earlier experiences with this track and its 300 meter elevation change disciplined the first several laps. “Mauk”, my teacher had a German affectation with my name, “Mauk, ve moost drife dees truck ass ve drife de roads arooond dit.” Vernacular aside, his meaning was that negotiating these many turns would have to be made as if you were driving a country road-at racing speeds. He also taught me to break down the track into the well-defined sections, mandated on the track map. Most importantly, he stressed the mind and how it would tire of the intense concentration before my young body would succumb with fatigue.
Similarities with Bridgehampton could suffice for any of you who became familiar with blind turn recognition. Blind turn description does little justice to the actual awakening one receives at 220 KPH, negotiating a rise then dropping into a sharp bend in the forests of Adenauer with nary the thought of preparing a set of pedal and wheel movements that went to the left, no, right, no left-BAM, your dead! Better keep your wits about you!
Weather is very much an issue of attention within the confines of this mountain region and at 20 Kilometers in length, “Jurassic Ring” in April was mystifying. Intense rain greets a fast car, very fast indeed; yet three “clicks” further along and the sun warms the spectators aloft in the high sitting perches. Well positioned for best views of short sections of road, festooned with signs greeting their favorite drivers, and some not so popular.
I try to choose a really scary part of the “ring fazination”-as some call it, and I can’t. Maybe it has to do with the volumes of puzzled parts that scare the shit out of me.
Being fast there is remembering every section, intimately! Co-driver Randy benefited by my prior experience, I benefited by a humble approach to certain sections. The first third and last third of this Black forest cake was within my grasp by the third lap, as I re-familiarized myself with the old landmarks taught to me so long ago. It was after Adenauer Forest on our way down to the lowest sections and working back up through Bergwerk that kept me from a confidence level I adopted when younger.
Kesselchem made me look good as my right foot has a comfortable plant on the accelerator and at the 120 degree right turn, before the Karrousel there was confidence in 4 wheel drifting. Viewing several wrecks there, I thought it interesting that the Karrousel was and is very easy for me to drop into and pop out carrying good speed up Hohe Acht, setting up my ensuing drift along Wipperman. Schwalbenschwanz is important as are all turns coming onto any fast section should be. Upon clearing a minor incident, we move onto the fastest part of “Jurassic Ring”, a killer straight that seems to go on forever. Quickly shifting up to 6th, one eye jogs to the gauges and looks for 6200RPM, the complementary eyeball is watching the cars we’re passing. Seeing 300KPH for what seems like forever could be terminated if one does not respect the bridge and its kink to the left; a hint of lift on gas pedal and minor wheel correction and SLAM, the gas pedal is punished again, albeit for a short stint arriving at Hohenrain.
We logged over 70 laps and my best time was 8:04. Randy’s level of skill grew to a point where I felt he was most comfortable. The first day was driven with the GP circuit included, very cool, sadly boring if driven exclusively.
Ten hours of pounding rain dogged our ride back to Calais, then onto London’s Hyde Park, my flat, my respite. There is no substitute, bring on the “Fazination”! It does separate and disintegrate the men from the boys!
Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe has proven to be the greatest leap in overall performance for the production series Porsche since the advent of the turbocharger. Lightening fast gearshifts and uncompromising reliability combined with two true separate driving fashions result in the most enjoyable and practical Porsche driving experience to date. The most common question from our members is unquestionably “How does it work?”
Let’s begin with the first examples of PDK “type” transmission, campaigned by the Chaparrel Company in conjunction with GM in the 1960’s during the CanAm era. (note: there have been numerous claims to design of the dual clutch transmission, however for the purposes of this article we will concentrate on the one that actually worked fairly reliably on a high horsepower documented racecar with the same principles of today’s PDK.)
The 2J’s rudimentary transmission was the first notable attempt to use this technology in a racing car. It could withstand the horsepower that was being delivered, (though not always reliably) and worked in conjunction fairly well with the parameters set by the engineering in this oddly designed prototype racecar. In years to come Porsche would build upon the ideas of GM and Pete Weismann’s Williams F1 design from the 1993 model year, introducing this technology into the 956 and later 962, and finally into the production 2009 cars. Not withstanding Peugeot and Renault’s versions, the PDK we refer to today and will concentrate on in this article is the 7DT-45 or CG1.00.
Simply stated a PDK transmission always has two gears engaged. The transmission’s computer effectively turns on one wet clutch while turning the other off via solenoid. This was not the case with the 956/962, which from a standstill need human actuation of a clutch. The PDK case has two shafts with gears 188.8.131.52.R on one and 2.4.6. on the other, we now have constant power that gives the driver the ability to shift within 200 milliseconds. To answer the question that is likely burning in your mind right now, yes, this will be expensive to repair should there be a failure. Let me note that the PDK has proven to be one of the most reliable transmissions Porsche has ever developed. At high RPM, in the tightest of corners, on the most demanding road circuits, the shift can be achieved without virtually any disturbance to balance thanks to sensors that determine if the shift is possible on a corner and/or based on overall engine RPM and other factors. Gone now are the days of throttle blipping as this is now done electronically on both the 7 speed manual and PDK transmission, as well as overrev limitation due to gear selection mistakes. I know there are some of you using the tiptronic type transmission via the 964/996/997.1 saying how different can it be? It is not even in the same ballpark.
Granted, PDK paddle shifting and auto mode takes some of the sport out of it, but that is also what we said when ABS came out. Beyond these performance enhancements, a much more profound and exhilarating gearshift sound accompanies the already high-pitched purr of the 3.8 DFI engine found in the acclaimed GT3 model. Over the course of the past 7 years, software updates and design changes have made the PDK experience even more performance oriented with various mapping programs built in and a redesign of the PDK transmission itself most notably in the Panamera models. Whether you’re using the paddle shifter (after uproar over the gen. 1 buttons located on the steering wheel), shifter or automatic mode, the overall driving experience is second to none.
Whether one should purchase a 7-speed manual or a PDK is ultimately up to personal taste and usage. I myself would be unlikely to ever purchase a Porsche without PDK again, and I doubt that was the feeling during the Sportomatic and Tiptronic era of any Porsche driver. But there are purists out there that love the nostalgia of the 7 speed which I personally find rather lethargic in nature compared to the 6 speeds of prior models. Either way, the 991 has, does and always will provide the utmost driver interaction.
As a note for our members: if you experience poor shifting, noise, leaks, or any abnormal driving condition with your PDK transmission, your technician can recalibrate various systems to counteract most of these conditions and therefore restore your driving experience to what it should be: pure bliss.
Nick was out of the game for a long time. Indeed, when he approached me to reenter the fray my concerns were expressed, with punctuation, I may add. Achieving 25 years of club membership is to pay homage when you consider the short attention span any club is capable of drawing to the table. It’s not “their” fault; it simply is the way of organizations such as ours. Nick Ventura has in every position contrived by Metro PCA over the course of time and as controversy can surround my opinion, members, considered antagonists, would enjoy our former chief instructor’s subtle yet capable “Bruce Wayne/Batman” demeanor. Fortunately, his personality has “rubbed off”, as my hubris was difficult to fit through a 12×12 commercial door, only recently to arrive at a comfort level in attitude helped through an emulation of his quiet charm.
With the last engine’s life span terminated due to piston failure at 45 hours and difficulty in procuring many vital parts, did I dare assume Nick may have strapped his helmet on for the last time? Inclusive to germination of this article lies with factual evidence of racing prowess. Skills which have delivered dozens of overall/class wins for Metro PCA and with a mere, Ahem, 914. As non-controversial as this metro driver has been, the “914” he pilots, has drawn a maelstrom where rules were put into place, especially so at National PCA levels. Many believe that this car, stylistically dubbed, The Batmobile, along with its 750 ponies arranged amidships, was the hybrid birthed in Club Hell. National rules were in a constant state of flux, in part based specifically on the Batmobile, finally insulting it through it’s installation in the prototype category; a group inclusive to the 962! Honestly, why would they put this “simple” 914 there? With every component unique and state of art, it was appropriate to leave the rear taillights as a reminder of what was once an “entry level” Porsche. I’ve no intention in rehashing his record as it truly speaks for itself, “Bruce Wayne” and his Batmobile began a legacy which spanned decades only to succumb to a lack of spares. It’s easy to understand his distaste in amassing another ride when nothing would approach performance figures in which this unique creature would put forth on qualifying sheets at Club races across the U.S. As to my satisfaction? It came in the creation of something NO ONE had ever seen before, or after.
Allowing two years for engine completion, this creature and its new power plant left our Gotham cave recently. I cautioned this quiet hunter as to how the competition has been recently, only to look into his eyes and realize caution never comes to Nick’s thought process of speed. I extolled the virtues of the new generation of track cars and factory examples of GT3’s based on the current 996. Graced with experience on the current crop of cars, along with much driving experience in Europe, my comments fell on deaf ears. Nick hears no evil, speaks no evil. Decades preceding, many club drivers opined of his driver prowess, “Nick was not just ahead of the curve, Nick was the curve!” The once famed Batmobile’s reintroduction in competition would prove agonizing to me though healing to its drivers dry spell, culminating in the ever familiar Nick-Brando-Godfather tone; “Build it, I’ll drive it, nothing else matters”.
Procuring Porsche 962 racing engine parts proved to take over two years, vital parts typified by the crankshaft and engine block, once common, would actually be recreated from scratch along with rods, valves, oil pump, and pistons. There were lessons to learn from this exasperating/time consuming project as vintage racing engines waste too much time in the details. My fortunes in racing originate in principle due to the people I hold close to me. Brought forth to this equation is one such person, Ed Pink, a famous/versatile race engine builder. Mr. Pink would prove crucial in the assemblage and testing of this, a most sophisticated and complex assemblage. His L.A. facility is a virtuoso of what true engine shops personify. In addition, Pink’s personality is so “Southern Californian Cool”. Akin to bronco riders on a ranch, we pulled a herd of ponies during our engine test sessions and properly broke in, “mapped”, crated, then shipped back one happy “blown hybrid” to NYC, along with a return promise in the form of “Marks famous artichoke sauce” for Pink’s table. Thank God the Pink man loves my sauce, as I love his shop!
With a pleasurable install/run process completed, the venerable Batmobile’s initial venture would take it to Watkins Glen PCA Club Race in June. The once common 17” tires were no longer available, as everyone of substance went to 18’s. “Batman” would run the week with old rubber and out of date brakes, feeling the pavement like Fred Flintstones feet! Again, veins thickened with ice, no tolerance towards discourse in lack of driving time, Mr. V “ponyed up” in muted volumes, “if the car’s up to it, so am I”.
Lap times, like the weather, changed radically. Rain times were impossible based on our rain tire situation, as in “none”! Dry weather/lap times spelled us on race day and went from paltry 2:18’s (two laps in two years) down to 2:03’s for qualifying position. Allowing for lack of real grip and a brake pedal that “came and went”, the oft soft spoken Metro driver was ecstatic, as was I; noting we were a mere 3 seconds of the pole! Mr. V’s goals were actually achieved in general reliability and a desire to obtain vital track time in honing his driver skills. When asked of his re-entry to competition and hiatus in driving, the mighty warrior of Gotham would again quip in a final indicative epithet, “the King isn’t dead yet”!
Indeed, this “King” would arise subsequent to a brake system correction as he assaulted the banking of Pocono for Metro’s driver ed. “long course” event. This would be a prelim to the next “real” race, with “real race rubber”. For a real sports car driver “life begins at 200”, and that time/space continuum would be gifted to us, along with the “full course” through Andy, Dorothy and Barry, members who ran the event. Those Metro Showman enlivened our show by obtaining permission to running a full, late afternoon session on the Tri-Oval! I, as well as, Nick had not been on the banks of the tri-oval in more than two decades, yet once there we lapped the field twice, as the Batmobile, and Batman would begin the process of being a “curve” for another millennium.
For the Nordschleifes’s 20.8 klicks, my “SPECIAL” 911 should have, at most, an eight minute plus lap. A piece of road unlike any other, on planet Hollywood. An addictive and rushing affair filled with Dips, swoops and the traps of Bathurst, from Klostertal to Arenberg, AKA, the Forest’s Elbow. Multiply that cute little strip of road by 10. I keep coming back in the vain attempt to execute placement, fluency and self confidence, as they are the only shortcuts to fast lap times.
If it doesn’t flow and/or you rush it too fast, go back to your room, for you WILL crash.
As Castles loom and workday traffic scuttles underneath it’s bridges, one can only imagine what it was like behind the wheel of an early Formula One car, ...In the blinding rain and fog. Replete with Balloon tires, jockey cap, drum brakes and a pack of lucky’s in your breast pocket. A time for real drivers.
I’ve run out of options, I’m going in too deep and way too fast. I’m somewhere near the Flugplatz and I’ve forgotten the sequence. Under the bridge then the sweepers. Fast downhill left then right. Almost a straight line if your placement is good. Mine is not. A touch of the brakes, flick the wheel, prepare to thread the needle.
The picture beyond my windshield is of brilliant green forest; layers of battered Armco and rusty chain link fence. In a blink of an eye's it’s gone, but the image remains forever crystal. Funny, how your mind works, slowing things down, enriching the senses. Careful, watch the edge now and fear the grass. Listen, let the engine’s song caress in its chorus.
Feel the oversteer? It’s breakaway progressive, forgiving, every moment so incredibly linear. There are no sharp edges, no surprises. Tip toeing and a deep breath; adjust the attitude with a lift and a flick of the wrist. Wait! Wait for the apex..And PLANT the right foot! Rubber squirms eternally, then BITES. Inevitably, my 911 succombs to the buzzing of the flat honeycomb curbing. Caressing the borders between black and green, the silver bullet ruffles the long summer grass with a rush of wind and heat. We are through. Lungs fill for the first time in perhaps 20 seconds as the throttle is rolled off. I must NOT forget my training at the Elf school, the regular cadence in breath must be maintained as it helps in creating a physical and mental structure for piloting a racecar. The 993 slows on the short straight and I come to terms with it. “That, was too close. Idiot”! Remember the flow. Why Didn’t I recognize the approach? How many years does it take to come to grip with this place?
157 corners around the north circuit. Apart from the few you can safely measure, they loom into view way too soon. I vaguely recognize a dozen others; ones which appear over blind brows or corkscrews out of sight cut through a carpet of fir trees. Paths of light glimmer when novitiates, all too lost, must look up to reposition themselves, thereby losing precious time.
Since 1927, this green, often misty valley, high in the Eifel Mountains has been the altar of motor racing, the Nurburgring. The Ring. From Hatzenbach past the Schwendenkreuz up to Adenau. Then it’s Bergwerk and on to the Karussell. Portraits of Jackie Stewart jumping the Matra high above the spray at “the flying place” in 1968; Bernd Rosemeyer clipping the apex at Hocheichen, his 1936 Auto Union in a delicately controlled slide; Fangio imperious, head straight, arms coiled, gunning his “silberpfiel” through the banked Karussell; then Nicki; poor bastard, trapped at Bergwerk, his Ferrari a fireball. Steamer trunks crammed with ghosts, coal trains of stories laden with glory.
I offer myself to Europe every now and then, excusing it to visit old friends and an auto show. Simply a postscrip to a quarter century love affair. She never lets me know all her secrets. A little international negotiation and I idle by the gatehouse in my “rental” 911. All shiny and glinting in the midday sun. It doesn’t rate a second glance. Gatekeepers, cherub faced and stuffed with wurst have noticed more exhaust heat then a naval flag officer has during his affixation to afterburners lighting a late 60’s night sky as they stream off the carriers deck somewhere in the South China Sea.
Even at eight tenths, eyes WIDE open and the brain in gear, it is unbalanced, ungainly. After a few laps on a normal track confidence begins to flow. At the “real” Ring, you’re still driving it like a blind tarmac rally stage. So much of it lies beyond the line of sight that you’re constantly reacting rather than anticipating. It might be rough but it can be very revealing. If the car isn’t forgiving, you’re unlikely to drive it away. Not enough time to write a book, however the impressions are strong, of car, driver, and circuit.
The faster you go the more to learn. In two places your leave terra firma. In another you get squished into the ground by G-forces strong enough to steal your breath. Every bump is a new challenge, the banked Karroussel, a frightening exercise in precision. It throws cars off into the trees if the driver peels of the wall too early.
There are corners like Wehseifen that literally spit the car across the roads.and Klostertal, where even real men hold their breath. There are more bad cambers than an alignment shop full of NY cabs. Intertwined with the rapid-fire directional changes and the rise and fall is this backdrop of blurred green tranquility.
Please God, let me retire and get the ring around every day of the rest of my life.
PS. I wrote the original story 15 years ago and it still “rings” true.
“Ambition is never content, even at greatness!” It was an over enunciated command issued to myself prior to our quest at the Watkins Glen inaugural PCR race.
One of the last true solitaries, whose mystique illuminates the path to remorseless honesty, Nick “Batman” Ventura, had tested well no less than 4 weeks prior. His machine, a brutish test of manliness with it’s boost level set a 1.5 bar had been purposely set much lower as to enhance the ability of creating a set up to a troublesome suspension. Gearing, tires, spring weight, these critical pieces in the puzzle of testing results were meant as an indication of our competitive strengths for the real deal in August. “Nick, ready to run a low 50?” I quipped. An end of test session remark designed to extract any emotion from a man whose gene pool must have emanated from Juan Fangio, having a sole purpose on this earth to fly on the ground, effortlessly. His Brando-isk voice eventually echoed, “Mark, you make the front stick and I’ll run a $#@* 49!
It’s been a 30-year romance with this remarkable ex F1 racing venue woven into one of the five Finger Lakes located in scenic “upstate New York”. Where corner name are familiar to all great drivers, then and now. Names too intimate for some, where abrupt termination would end their game of tag with an apex. Within the Glen’s varied elevation changes, hides carefully carved high speed, guardrail ensconsed turns with dubious nicknames such as the “esses”, “heel”, “toe”, “laces” and the “bus stop”. During a PCA weekend, “Working” these turns could be synonymous to a boy scout Jamboree, with scouts whittling away on blocks of elm, looking forward for the ultimate in achievement, a badge of FTD earned through carefully shaping, guided by their senses.
Hopefully, we would know this 3.5-mile road course with more intimacy than any of the other front-runners in our competitive field of gladiators. Flanked by Erik Postniek, riding his new factory steed, a GT3 supercup, and our experience could only bolster his position as a rookie in his highly competitive class of GTC.
As hardscrabble as our year had been, uncomforted with it’s amount of weather related DNS’s hurtled in our direction, more obstacles needed resolve before Sunday afternoon and the big show. Overwhelmed at the past weeks fate, we arrived on that Christian saboth with not merely a broken rib to contend with, but a severely wounded Supercup manned by a driver determined to succeed in an arena replete with too many experienced hawks overseeing his progress. Overzealous warm up matched to a weakened lower control arm led a list of implausible occurrences. The results of which would eventually lead the GT3 supercup and it’s suspension through a wave of inability in transmitting feedback, creating an off road excursion of substantial magnitude. The wreck would take days and telecommunication around the globe for the specialized parts to arrive and install. The video would reveal a competent driver having offering up his first off road excursion. However poignant and uncomfortable my sustained guardrail injuries were, they would inevitably and physiologically mend. From the driver’s standpoint, wrecks are hysterically psychological and difficult in its ability at re-creation of wellness. This incident would mandate one refreshed warhorse infused with competition among peers, resulting in a real confidence rebuilder.
Don’t ever forget, we all crash! If you’ve never wrecked, you just aren’t going fast enough. My position was clear, make the repair happen, on time! It was what I do, quite possibly, what I do best.
The GT3 suffered severe trauma, severing both left side corners and displacing it’s chassis suspension points. Many of our competitors offered up their parts as well as a sympathetic hand as we repaired this once virgin machine. By Friday afternoon we patched, adjusted and hammered everything into a temporary “fix”. I was in my element and finished the tasks at hand. The supercup, as well as my bones, would have to do what was expected. I explained to a somber Erik, “it was time to get happy”. He didn’t let us down and won Rookie of the PCR race. Other events would be beyond my control
Nick woke to a somber and ominous Sunday morning. The preceding day would see his lap times drop into the 50’s. We had the setup and the driver to win it all! The skies would open in a soaking, as our Batman would retreat to the garages in an unemotional pitch, only to again be robbed of a pole position in a driving rainstorm. While the trusty steed was readily packed for its trip back to Gotham, mother of nature teased us in tire choices, for the GTC class effort. Erik had his first venture into competition riddled with a compilation of issues usually discovered within the course of a whole season, only to face them in a few short days.
As Mother Nature played good bitch with us in the form of sunshine, an over tenured Batmobile would be hurriedly removed from the transport late in the day. Without the luxury of qualifying “Bruce Wayne” had to start the race from the back of the wolf pack. Experience, as the mother of that nature, could not thwart the venerable lead driver of Metro, on this Bible belt Sabbath. As seamless as a virtuoso, Metro’s own hurtled this stealth 914 with 800 frustrated ponies to an undaunted 5th overall. He passed 25 competitors in 25 minutes summarily exorcising his pent up frustration, feeding it to a racing cultural Cuisinart, and a duly appropriate catchword, COMPETITION, it gets you up in the morning!
I’m confused; shall I write to you, for you, with you or at you? Install crass commercialism in the rawest form possible? Perhaps, boring you with mundane procedures in brake pad replacement and *motor repairs, all while making a somewhat feeble attempt at vaulting my untested yet recently infused/confused abilities. Let’s throw in some grainy snapshots of myself and “buddys” building MONSTER *motors! Yes, that’ll get their attention! Nahh, been there, done that, decades ago!
Candidly, my reading of certain “Porsche Post” pages has been a tad painful as of late, all of which can be attributable to myself and no reflection of great editorial content. OUR editor arrives without privilege of pay and my accolades appropriately aim in his direction. My self anointed license as a President of this club allows a more candid approach towards the hows and why’s of writing in our magazine. The written word remains therapy for me and as I’ve been told, therapy in any form should be part of my daily regimen! While arrogance may be at the surface of my comments, fear no more interpretation in that direction. For, as years have become decades in the service of this thing of ours, my realization has come full circle with the recognition of how my limits of knowledge must be expanded upon. As a younger man in the service of Porsche, the somewhat pointed item balanced between my shoulders morphed into such a HUGE size, IT had difficulty fitting through my 12’X 12’ door. Foolishly seasoned veterans such as me, invariably gravitate toward the enlightened realization of humility. Being irreproachable was a byproduct of early success, so much so that I now look for skill enhancement in overcoming my attitude adjustments of that culture club.
Today, a philosophical viewpoint on building stuff is where we’re headed. Diagnosis, assembly, fabrication, welding, painting, upholstering all on a professional level, require a true respect for the art form. Peers should be duly impressed and in awe, if not, the prostitution proliferates in the false declaration of professionalism..
Days ago, a poorly executed group of repairs were presented to me in a similar fashion as a trip to Disneyland would.. Mr. Turbowner had the tickets and we went on a ride, my sympathy tagged along. Brave soul, through and through; he felt compelled in shouldering responsibility for the abysmal decimation of his turbo. Repairs had been anything other than that. Unfortunately, proverbially, the icebergs tip has been hardly explored as his engine made clear a suffering from the “modification” illness had befallen this once proud 300 pony cauldron of power. Illness such as this is generally induced through a belief of that supernatural formula of HP’s, executed by the clowns of horsepower via the profound belief in the mystical remedies of engine work. Real Porsche guys know the numbers are B.S and as such, take on an air of entertainment.
Body pieces grafted onto our lame dark horse during the collision phase of Porsche decimation were rudely positioned, welded and rust protected. The left front suspension pick-up point was centimeters higher than it’s right side brother; AFTER it was “pulled” on a frame machine! The paint was dissimilar to OEM requirements and along with his *motor, behaved as Michael Jackson did in his latest interview. Turbo man’s only recourse was to “unload” his Mary Shelly Masterpiece, in short, Bail!
Certification, verification, and/or training remain hopeless in the scheme of accreditation of US automotive services. European facilities have a far more comprehensive way to deal with this, dating back centuries, beginning with the term, “apprenticeship”. Trampled upon here, yet sorely needed. You KNOW what sells in the magic kingdom, HYPE! Be it in service or sales. Performance/quality, ahh, that was lost decades ago, at least on this side of the pond.
One of the indirect clues to proper performance in my field lies within performances at the track. Pure competitiveness in REAL racing environments can allow smart people to shine their shoes on fools back. Not to be confused with occasional D.E.’s.
Migrating back to “engineland”, I purge myself of this diatribe to allow a more proper description of engine “builders”. Elementary possession of a chassis/engine dyno does not materialize into the magic and wonders of the genius deep within true builders.. Indeed, by this interpretation, I am NOT an engine builder in its purest form. A captivating arena, the engine building stuff! Sadly, I must travel to the left coast to get happy within the knowledge/applications of proper engine language. When I assemble a proven set of components mutually tested through a real engine shop, an inevitable outcome is reliable performance and durability, akin to when the powerplant was new. Am I outing myself? Judgment must come from results and results are the measure 39 years of not f’ing around. “Keep your engine as a stock component”, is more of what I would suggest than exploring where no engine has gone before.
Try selling your Porsche after you lose emissions capability! Have I arrived too late in the game? Sitting with that albatross around your neck? I hope not! Remember, no one wants your “talked into” courtesan? If you want to thank yourself for an incomplete homework assignment than buddy up to shop owners. NO? Too smart for that, well, seems as if you will be checking shop credentials/accreditations beforehand.
Finally, our monorail has arrived back in collisionland; poor soul with the crooked car and too many ponies is left with little choice but to sell it for pennies on the dollar OR hopefully, the buddyed up shop owners will return original investment paid to him… wait! My breath is getting blue!
Motor-a device that converts electrical current into mechanical energy.
Engine-a machine that converts energy into mechanical force, distinguished from an electric motor by its use of a fuel.
Conclusion-Use of the term Motor is crude and inappropriate in terms of our discussions.
I’m most contrite in my approach to this sporadic inclusion of you, in our journeys through the surreal life of a mechanically overindulgent Porsche major domo. You see, if I have nothing to offer but crass commercialism and self-aggrandizement, touched up through “English 101”, what is there to intellectually digest? Most probably, given fewer years in the “service”, my simplistic approach would be childishly familiar and overenthusiastic. Guidance to the woodshed of the English language has been provided via our Post Host, Professori Ted. The “supposed” demographics of this audience continue to burden a full frontal approach toward “righting” and any wrongs associated with. my column. The truth shall set you free!
A salute to recent racing success forms my next appeal. As my recent letter indicates, our collective hearts go to the Bartone family in their tragic loss of my pal, Joseph Bartone. As we all must move forward, loving brother, Anthony, 1998 Alcohol Funny Car Champion, has craftily managed to catapult his racing career to the esteemed position of driver with the NHRA team of WWF (World Wrestling Federation), no easy accomplishment. “Congratulations on joining the 300 MPH club, give’m a body slam!” And you will!
This recent transfer from Florida, Keith Alexander, is executing another WWF ring move on his group of competitors in PCR, Speedvision and ALMS. His debut at the annual Sebring 12 hour race will astonish many observers. As if it was yesterday, Keith’s C4S was sitting on my frame machine, having been pealed from a guardrail of Lime Rock during our first, ahem, introduction. However, our last year’s trip to Florida changed all the rules. An excursion concluding in a purchase of his first “official factory Supercup”. This move spawned his next overlap into ownership of a 996 Super Cup and a half. This machine has been transformed into stealth GT3R. Keith’s tenacity and talent delivers the goods in this the form of this wickedly fast Cup car, earning “His Keithness a high 2:15 at Sebring, this past winter. “Smokin’!” A “deal’ recently inked takes him to the 12 hours at Don Panoz’s Chateu Elan, teamed with last years Barber GT3R and a European contingent capable of winning their class. Look for him to move up the food chain, his seat time demands this!
Juxtaposed as always is “Metro Man” Michael La(v?)uer. Having completed Le Mans, Daytona and a host of other ALMS and vintage races in “00”, Mr. Congeniality (like I should talk!) has a rendezvous with destiny. His competitive nature is intense and experience with prototypes and sports racing machines will lead to victory somewhere this year! Adding his name next to the livery of Michael Schumacher in a Sauber/Mercedes C11 will make fodder of any Vintage or Historic competitor! As always, Michael’s “lauerism’s” offer tongue in cheek entertainment amongst friends. Armed with a Riley and Scott Prototype, his courageous team almost managed an overall win at Daytona. The Adrelelin could have only been exceeded by his dramatic exhibition of driver control, days earlier, upon approach to a 200 MPH wall. Michael’s skill level was tested in a contest with his Sauber, categorized by an explosion of bodywork precipitated through a cut to a rear tire.
Time is frozen for the moment, this multi-directional “Silber Arrow” is streaming to the wall, harness’s strained. Metro man’s reaction time is tested with minute corrections to a very nasty steering wheel, gas and brake pedal. All the while parts are leaving this machine with rapid dispatch, sounds of explosions surrounds his every movement in the cockpit, hurtling along, a scant few feet from a chunk of concrete that salivates for the carbon fiber and flesh it is entrusted to protect. Good drivers are gifted with elevated levels of our five senses. Immeasurable is the fortunes of luck these soldiers of speed must have been anointed with at birth. Good drivers can gather up the rapid set of movements necessary to deny the wall its lust. For blood. Michael is a good driver, he made that wall wait. Unfortunately it only granted a stay of execution. Dale Earnhart would offer it the moment it lusted after, being fed into this concrete coffin a scant few weeks later.
Our most recent award for “the Ice Man Commeth” is Erik Postnieks. Along with a water-cooled ‘01 Turbo for everyday, he challenges the PCR racing circuit in a 996 Supercup, skillfully; we plot his career, disassemble and reassemble his Supercup and embrace the first places, as we move toward a mutually satisfactory goal of total domination in the GTC class. Make no mistake, “Erik is here!” The experience he is gaining at this country’s most famous road courses will enable him to fulfill the dreams many of us have in motorsports activity. A win at Sebring, enhanced by so many lead changes during a race in January, has fueled our preparation of his Supercup for upcoming races at Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, Road America, to name but a few. I discover ways to ratchet up the systems incorporated within the 996-based factory racecar. This up-from-nothing overachiever possesses execution and instincts akin to veteran pilots, allowing our tutorial in driver training to accelerate at a dramatic pace. The installation of a prototype and/or a GT3RS to his Supercup program is on the horizon and dutifully necessary, as his livery is quickly recognized for it’s reliability and competitiveness.
February brought the usually local and beloved Macaluso brotherhood, joined by Joe “Mr. 996” Doria, “The Iceman” and “His Keith ness”, along with Team Formula and many Metro PCA’ers, to forage in the gray, concrete pastures of their first driving experience over the runways of Sebring airport. A culmination of this long distance event came in the form of a huge reward in viewing a club ensemble manifest their friendships during a competitive 48 hours at Sebring! With all the years of endurance racing behind, along with a track layout changed several times, my journeys to the orange groves always conclude with a phase learned far in the past-”You can win at Daytona, but you must try and finish Sebring!
“Unrelenting, the weight in this air NEVER lightens up”, I mused as heavy perspiration punctuated my planning and execution at Mosport. It was not far from the envisioning I held within, based on many previous competitive excursions to this most northern racetrack on our racing schedule. As regrettable as ensuing on track transgressions would become; prior pontification in respecting the weather would not engage my own natural on-track behavior in overcoming the “delirium” that would soon occur. An inefficient Lacing of driving shoes ran parallel to caution, as this tepid climate would never terminate the over focus I was suffering through. Not only was I held hostage to heat, it created an event in my competitive driving life that would alter my arrogance and aggressive nature in racing forever more. As our ever-charming Andy Spray looked upon this continuing suit up, I sparked in a most gallows humorous manner, Andy, it's a real torch out there, can you hand me the ice!
Somehow, the 996 Cup car version of the production series Porsche 911 has been a playful nymph to the motor skills I still manage to possess, albeit not quite what they once were. This skill set continues in its deliverance toward a station in a life of semi-retirement wrapped in the embrace of all my senses piqued. To be short about it, this machine did everything I wanted it to do and then some. This car became a transport to Valhalla.
That is, until hallucinogens created from the intense heat of the cockpit, delivered mind, body and a magnificent metallurgical steed to Hell. I traveled to a place most appropriately described as purgatory, remaining there for 20, possibly 30 minutes. Chemicals inside my head were dancing, dictating, and indeed demanding overdrive. My resulting resolve, “I'm going faster every lap until the fuel runs out!”
Short lived would mark this delirious thought process, that is until I climbed out of my bent masterpiece and threw up on the course worker. Reaching that almost fatal left hand corner, immediately prior to entering the front straight, the ensuing shunt pulled me back from the precipice, chancing me a spot somewhere between recrimination and “do over”.
A tick faster than any “cup” could enter; this somewhat benign, relatively slow ninety-degree roll to the left snapped my steed around trading “carrera-white” paint with concrete as we were streaming along to barrier wall. My machine suffered relatively minor, yet event ending damage. Sheet metal, suspension parts, the “this and that's, all parts easily replaceable in a collision repair, would be the order of the next few weeks based on “my cups runneth over”. Facing ever more challenging and heavy chassis repair is one of my stronger skills in Porsche service; it would not be necessary in returning this racecar to fitness. Facing what created the weaknesses behind the wheel would require more serious deliberations.
Some may say, how can I he able to make public his mistakes? Because I can! Because, I have a room full of trophies proving my worth as a driver. Because I not only have driven in every major race in the world, I am able to correctly service the machines I have driven, many of the greatest drivers cannot say that! Most important to this article and why I am outing myself lies with a desire to have you experience my mistakes and take them with you the next time you arrive ready to race on a 100 degree day!
Not only is youth helpful but having proper equipment also holds true to a successful competitive outing. One of my failures and the ensuing heat complications could have been overcome by using the pre-existing air ducted helmet arrangement that I, yes ME, installed for the regular driver, Paul Orwicz. I had failed to bring that additional helmet along and declined the use of my co-drivers headgear. The closed cockpit aerodynamic package that we utilized in previous races would become the greatest obstacle that weekend. Although, it was instrumental in my wreck, serious argumentation could prevail in the simplicity of excessive ambient heat, as many other drivers were not fairing much better than I. There are a wide variety of “cool suit” arrangements on the market and an even greater amount of opinions as to there individual merits. Complication in installation and maintenance aspects of these devices continue to prevail in motorsports activities. Therefore, I make no individual endorsement to any or all of them. The bigger picture in being properly prepared must be directed to physical fitness in this type of exhausting environment, as well as rest and a proper diet during the prior and ensuing days events. Remembering that too much fluid, and the type thereof, is as bad as not enough. In between practice sessions and additional on-track experiences, keep yourself as cool as possible and avoid heavy physical work on the car. When I have been paired on professional teams we NEVER turned a wrench while attending the race! If you do to both, remember what I'm suggesting. Also, as the ambient temperature rises for a given event, age of the participants take on a greater differential in competitive stature. Finally, remember, this Mark is one who has been on both sides of the proverbial wrench!
OK, I’m a hundred north on price and the Carrera GT is the Prototype that isn’t, assembled in a town that will be.
For more than a half century, like some complicated and unusually savvy butterfly, Porsche has regularly dared writers/drivers to try and pin it down. Perennially, attempts have taken form of short stories, collections of local-color vignettes and sprawling, motor magazine epics. But the subject is so large that maybe the minimal approach is most effective: the simple seeming but densely layered subjective evocation, nearly free of proper nouns. Come with me on a day at Leipzig; test this ultimatum of automotive expression, along with GT2’s, Turbo’s, C4S’s and a dash of Cayenne for spice!
This UK excursion consists of an invited group of GT buyers and I, not being one of the “fortunate few”, tagged along as a “guest”. All organized to delight the crap out of us! Captains of Industry? NOT TODAY! Ahh, cars and race tracks; it is of Man’s first disobedience.
Part of the former East Germany and dubbed the “City of Heroes” for its role in the democratic revolution of 1989, Leipzig’s cultural roots stem from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. For centuries it rivaled Salzburg and Vienna as a center of European music and its Gowanda’s Symphony, founded in 1743 claiming to be the world’s oldest orchestra. Bach, Wagner, Mendelssohn and Goethe would set a scene from Faust in the Auerbachs Keller restaurant, a favorite watering hole. Within walking distance of our hotel lay the opera house, alongside a huge central market. Striding ever forward you face the astonishing railway station (Europe’s biggest).
The 450 acre Porsche complex in Leipzig, the production site for the GT, is one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities is the world. Built alongside, a new customer center offering a wide range of services including exhibition, race control, cinema and restaurant with panoramic vistas. The distinctive tower spears the Leipzig skyline, reflecting a symbol Porsche serves to this eastern German region.
2.5 miles in length, 12 meters in width, the FIA approved competition standard race/test circuit is inspired by some of the world’s legendary corners. The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, Parabolica at Monza and Bus Stop of Spa Francorchamps are there, as is an off-road course of 6 Kilometers.
Chatting up a storm, our flight from Stansted brought about a festive occasion. Touring the plant was insightful yet one could not help but notice that Helmets and Piloti driving shoes were de rigueur. Approaching the three very long silver arrows, 10 cylinders barking to pincer levels, only to give way to skin tingling silence. Yes, we boys were given to keys to our playground and parental supervision was NOT the order of the day! Well, almost.
Seems as if the ADULTS had some ridiculous idea that we “kinder” would get in trouble if left on our own! Hah! Walter Rorhl was to be one of three drivers with marching orders from “Mom and Dad”; hands OFF the steering wheel! Indeed, he protested (sure) and was a no show, WE, didn’t care. My factory pilot whipped up a fine recipe through each drive, ultimately offering me an opportunity of getting up to speed much sooner than any solo trip I could muster. As playground rules go, I can’t blame them much, matter of factly, a factory GT pilot was quick to make the point of a U.S. “groupie” who had, only days before, “stuffed” aGT2 big time!
OK, just get me IN and get it ON. Wonderful course layout allowed us a true stretch of performance architecture, akin to my experience with 962’s. YES, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, it’s EVERYTHING I WANT!!!!!!!!!!!!
GT's right seat focus draws immediately to the retro "ball" shifter…Very ergonomic, hmm…Must be a 60’s term, yes?. Acceleration is steam catapult in feel, through all six flicks of the wrist. Achieving 200+ is child’s play in a “real” drivers hands. Absolutely FLAT is the order of turn negotiation. Neck exercise suggested. 3000 lbs, 10 pistons, 600 "prancing" horses; Enzo...He must allow a wave bye!
Between stints in the GT, I drove the pants off the rest of the stable, along with my friends Randy and Meyhrig. Randy drives great, Meyhrig is an ANIMAL. We cowboys shot up the town, retiring to the fascination of exhibition hall, loaded with “as run” race cars. These are machines left in original race condition saddled with dirt and grease, just what we boys LOVE! A playground without dirt, well, isn’t fun.
As “Mom and Dad” called the slightly soiled boys in for dinner, reflections of sheer enjoyment could be seen on each of our wind burned cheeks. Sitting among epicurean delights for a pre-orchestral tasting encapsulated an already delightful tour of assembly, testing, vintage Porsche examples set out for our pleasure. Jaded as I can be, in this “thing of ours”, please allow a replay of this day or just PINCH ME!
The emphasis is on pleasure. A guilty pleasure can be anything from food (a bucket of fried chicken) to music (country) to down and dirty catfights. It can be where we go (Greek Islands) and what we go for (Victoria's Secret). It is anything we want to keep to ourselves. It is what we work hard to own, but cannot admit to! A pair of Minolo Blaniks; better yet, old comic books. A trampoline, sensen gum, long legs in spike heels. It's almost every single one of Andy Warhol's obsessions.
Now, that I can do IT with more understanding, traveling through Europe, connecting my past with Porsche alongside current racing activities remain first and foremost on this Guilty Pleasure list, my “giveth” and “taketh” away.
The way the world is now, nothing might seem as superfluous as sports car racing. A guilty pleasure if there ever was one. But it's not as though we're (drivers/spectators) ignoring what's going on in the world. It's just that we need a respite. And nothing provides that pleasure more than racing. Even if we might be feeling a little guilty about it right now. Just to remind us why racing makes us feel good, we break out the bubbly with a portfolio of images and sensations that celebrate European racing scenes. Images of the broad swatch of Spa’s Ardennes forest, only two hours from Nurburgring's roiling, dangerous curves, forever carving a path around it’s spired castle, never backpeddling on a fast lap filled with pictorial scenes of Italy’s sun drenched parabolica poised within Monza !
Arguably, ferries remain a favorite means of crossing the Channel. Sure, they’re slow and can grunt when you least expect it, but the ferry from Dover to Calais affects a clean beginning to the competition awaiting my entrance. Accompanying me for the ride is an ending to whatever happened before this continental entrance.
Close friend, co-driver and Ex Pat., Randy Sesson suggests the "Chunnel" trains may cut our excursion by a few hours and I agree. Regrettably, these tunnel dwelling, car crammed monoliths would disallow the cleansing of my spirit. Replaced by contemplation of speed, curves and danger, all which loomed east as our rain soaked coach pierced the tunnels brow surrounded by a frail Calais horizon. A day break; precursor to interpretation of guilt or pleasure. Would it tag us to the end of our journey?
I suppose it is time for stomach ailments to cease. They won't! Every morning, prior to climbing into a cockpit, I'm sick. From music to fasting, nothing helps. This apparent psychosis emanates through fears of first lap embarrassment.
Kept at bay with butterfly vigilance, it knows no ceasefire and will be with me forever!
First day tests completed at the G.P. circuit, on to the Hotel Reidel, across the road from Der Ring, Nurburg, Germany. Gifted a drive in a DTM car, delivered through the smooth, swift G.P. South circuit is comparative to piloting an F 1 with 4 seats!
Time is ripe for relaxation, come late afternoon. One click down from us, RingMeisters overwhelm, Der Nordschleif! Ring taxis abound, chauffeuring tourists, impressing novitiates with power slides wherever opportunity presents itself. Pecking order is a tradition on these public days. Coupling oneself to the local slogan, Master of the Ring, goes a long way in construction of a reputation. People emigrate/participate clueless, explicitly incapable in discovering the known players, indeed, they don’t know thezeitgeist!
On this late afternoon, Wannabe’s clamor from painted divides, comprising Nordschlief’s parking corral. Stop watches strewn about, frauleins wrapped in Gucci; all, toiling, indeed broiling with expectancy through prospecting low lap times. Machines of significant worth, specially treated for this particular venue, their heaves and snorts fill the air along with anticipation as they await their untested Meister and toll booth ticket holder, who must go out to better the sweeping hands of his cohorts chronograph. Maintaining a voyeuristic approach to this perennial ritual would be healthy, in part due to my required drive in official practice, the following day at Spa. Perched above the fray, securely stationed above this cage, I remark to my colleague, “How many of these ego maniacs get scrapped off the landscape anywhere and everywhere? My German counterpart, deadpanned in response “Ve don keep coun, Mark”! On the morning following our largess at a previous night’s festivities, we discover a Ferrari, coupled to an Italian dinner partner; neither would complete an attempt in becoming part of the living legends that are the RingMeisters. Ever evolving within the cruelty which befalls them, incapable of comprehending the capacity of life’s guilt and pleasures; confined to within Nordschlief, directed to its embarkation point.
Upon exiting a Cup Car, days later in Spa, two hours from *Castle Nurburg, a Brit Crew member bounded over, exclaiming, “Mark, Mark, remember the boy with the red Testarossa…the one we had dinner with at Hotel Reidel, the lad bought the farm at *Bergwerk, his girlfriend is in hospital”. Feeling the cruelty which befell this time traveler, all the while knowing what was discussed at our table, hours before his fate caught up to him. My aggrieved response, “can we contact his parents in Italy; they should know who was with him; we should do the right thing, tell them what they want to hear from someone who broke bread with him, someone who spoke to Vitorio last”. Remembering his bravado coursing through our prior evening, richened in colorful broken English, “Mark, you drive ere, not too match, I wit expedience, I know everyting for deez plaize, Victorio drive ere too many times”. We bandied stories related to the drama, unique to this circuit and kept within its boundaries; taming his boundaries was our hope. Alas, it soon became apparent, my diatribe over dinner fell on deaf ears, and our boy was all caught up in this adventitious RingMeister moniker. Too late for admitted guilt in driving pleasure, its lesson would play “hooky”.
According to my sources, the impact was inevitable, occupant unrecognizable, red car from Marinello…no longer red. Understandably distraught, Girlfriend was ambulatory and escorted away from the hordes who dominated this infamous parking lot. Immediately following; interlopers, vacuous yet contrite, scattered back into daily existences awaiting another public day.Kinder, overflowing with the effluence of the foolhardy. RingMeisters, less one.
On to Belgium. Re-introduced by Randy to a pleasurable, long lost friend who has managed a triumphant de-institution in careers. This talented driver tuned in, turned on, dropped out; bought a house in the Ardennes forest, five minutes from Spa. Beautiful house! $125K! By New York standards it was a palace. His days are filled with tutoring talented drivers ….We heightened stories of race days gone by; spent hours over dinner re-acquainting ourselves in nuances associated with the new Spa circuit……the guilt, the pleasures…..what a life!?
* RingMeister-Well respected group of drivers knowing every centimeter of the 300 plus turns of the 20 Kilometers, making up the Nordschlief.
*Nurburg Castle-As you shift up to top gear on the very long, kinked straight, there in view sits the Castle of Nurburg, it resides within the town of Nurburg, which in turn resides within the confines of the Nordschleif. Everything about the Ring is HUGE.
*Bergwerk- Grouping of turns on the Nordschleif (North part) of Nurburgring.
An insomnia-driven dew hazes my tender, surgically improved eyes from the luminescent bulb burning over my typewriter this early morning. Outside, the Autumn rain is gaining strength, beginning its rhythmic beat, which Gotham will subconsciously follow, its traders and players of world markets affected by a dismal commute to the canyons of deal ecstasy. Within my domain dwell many of their spoils and some “leftovers” that you and your friends consider fast or want to be “made” faster.
“BOOM BOOM ROOM” evolved from personal nomenclature. At times, it has characterized either of two crucial, if not redeeming stations of the vital forces within. Events spilling forth from Room One initiate through cataclysmic reactions to the brain -chemistry, upon presentation of seemingly unsolvable issues (Crunch time). Inside that second room, the sonic shattering of silence is created, constrained by the four walls of my establishment, replete with unmuffled horsepower dying to be engaged by some road surfer or track junkie, quite. possibly you.
I cannot express how meaningful your comments to my columns are, and as busy as I can get, the scripting of experiences in this life of Porsche is most impelling. Profound incidents should be lessons to learn from, and this year’s pole positions by Nick Ventura must be heard loud and clear. His horrific, yet captivating crash occurred two years ago. As spectators filled their eyes with the graphic realities of racing, the guardrail of Lime Rock’s “Pit In” surgically sliced his famously successful racecar in half. Not an end. Just another round in the chamber. Both he and I have driven to or been driven from the hospital. And always the discussion, as the rotation of a revolver’s chambers, is about. justifying the next round that must be readied. And it would be.
It is said that a revolution begins with the. first act of violence. The “been there, done that” life of service to the Porsche car has offered me an auspicious career, along with its tutelage on taming crushing defeat and building upon it. Thinking ahead allows us to contain this violence and continue to climb the ladder of significant speed. Late in 1998, work began (again). While simply buying a. ready-made racecar is fantastic-, building one from scratch offers up a much richer reward.
Subliminal accolades aside, realizing a pole position or overall win is secondary to a competitor’s opportunity to sour the air sarcastic! The pits have a propensity for negative enunciation. Racers without talk, those with don’t. F both. Money needs talent: talent requires money. Do your own homework and come to the table with something to offer.
I have been forever spoiled by having the use of a CAD (computer assisted design) program in our construction of Batmobile 11. It proved itself over and over as an invaluable tool for foolproof positioning of a 993 suspension system in a new chassis, when there were seemingly endless ways to achieve this objective. Painstaking measurements of both the chassis and suspension were essential to success of the transplant. With measurements “plugged in,” another software product enabled us to achieve a virtual picture of how components would create a marriage of -sophistication and simplicity. Having this capability would allow a change in ride height and alignment specifications at will. with predictable results.
Armed with this “blueprint,” I began in earnest on the actual hammering and cursing interlude last. fall. *As mentioned in previous columns, the back half of the frame was removed from my elaborate pulling apparatus. Then, we created a “surface Plate” on which the new “tub” would reside. This fixed anchoring on my geometrically square chassis correction machine would offer perfect alignment of parts as I attached newly manufactured pieces of this ‘4120 mph puzzle Bear in mind, that the silhouette of the completed machine had to duplicate its prior appearance, or interpretation of rules might come into play: Completion of the chassis would not be in the cards, until this March, with the first race date looming a mere three weeks later. Nick was, as usual. succinct. His only demand was, “if it isn’t ready for Lime Rock, I don’t -want it.”
Remember that Room One of mine? Boom Boom went my brain’s chemicals for the ensuing weeks. We cobbled together a crew to reassemble the finished chassis. Hotel accommodations were provided, as 24 hour days would be the norm in our reuniting Nick with “The Rock” for PCA Racing. The machine had to provide a safe haven for the driver, good adhesion and predictability, along with an advanced drivetrain delivering gobs of power. However, several questions remained while on our way to the track with a racecar still warmed by my tig welder.
Hours earlier, BOOM BOOM ROOM two had exploded into a cacaphony of eurythmy, escalating to music heard in the only two practice sessions that were allowed on race day. The Chief Scrutineer for PCA Racing salivated at our presence, since he had been forewarned of our inevitable return. Inspectors pored over this innovation, expecting to find our tradition of pushing the envelope. I could remain undemonstrative. They would engage in dismay as we did not register in our typical (justifiable) class. Batmobile 11 was promptly “bumped” into the Prototype class, where we would be competing with 962’s, etc. Thank you very much.
Rational thoughts were clouded in a sea of lost sleep and exhaustion at eight o’clock on race day morning, and any adjustments or changes could only come from the results of two 20 minute warmups. Ugh! Were we WAY over our expectations in this pseudo battle environment” Our machine would essentially compete against itself and its previous “official time” of 55 seconds. To go out on a track after a two year hiatus, with a “new” racecar that never turned a wheel is a feeling tantamount to your first ride on the Cyclone of New York folklore… in the front car, sitting on top of the seat back, locked in only by your feet to the bar as the first drop begins and your hands let go. It’s like that when you get up on boost with 800 horsepower straining to be free. The cold rear tires beg for heat to create traction and make Batbobile 11, like the front car of the Cyclone, stay on the track.
I’ve never before experienced such flawless behavior as I witnessed that day. The driver and car delivered all of my expectations in one fell swoop. First session out of the box, Nick ran a 55, An adrenalin rush offered up the correct adjustments demanded by chassis and engine management for a second trip, and we were ready for official qualifying. Nick drove professionally and took the Pole Position, Fastest Time of Day with a low 54. Elated by this result coupled with our previous racing tenure, I knew our performance window had been only partially opened.
The disappointment which ensued was immeasurable, sending me to my room to ponder our sporting chance. Pacing his race group off the downhill as he has done many times before, and awaiting the drop of the green flag, the only failure Nick would encounter befell him. The car stalled and he coasted in. Disillusionment abounded. A race we had “in the bag” was lost to a @##$ broken battery. Nevertheless, I counted the day as a victory of sorts. One short weekend later, we came home from Pocono armed with another pole position; but another “easy win” eluded us, simply because of “racing luck.” Ahh, the faster you are, the faster you had better be faster.
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