Daughter and Father Car Control Clinic
By Cassie and Michael Teschner
Cassie: It was Sunday, cold, raining and 6am when my dad woke me to drive to Met Life Stadium to participate in a Car Control Clinic – whatever that is. I do not even like cars or driving. And it is not like he will let me drive his Porsche.
Michael: It was Sunday, cold, raining and 6am when I woke my 18 year old daughter to drive to Met Life stadium to participate in a Car Control Clinic held by NNJR. A nice day would have been preferable, but if the goal is to find the edge of what you and your car can do, rain is actually a good thing. And darn right, I am not going to let you drive my Porsche.
Cassie: I had to follow my dad and he got lost in the parking lot. I had to borrow a helmet and stand out in the cold while people went on forever about what we were going to do, being safe and the schedule – really, this was going to take hours. Where is my iPhone?
Michael: This is my second Car Control Clinic and it is not only great for experienced drivers to improve their driving skills and learn more about their cars, but for new drivers as well. One of the members was kind enough to lend us a helmet for Cassie – this is fairly typical, I have never found members anything other than friendly and helpful. There was a short discussion of the four exercises that we were going to do and an introduction of a sponsor, Flemington Porsche. They provided great long sleeve tee shirts and discount coupons. As an aside, I have purchased three Fords from the same group (a new Mustang GT convertible is on order as we draft this). They are an hour west of where I live and I pass two other Ford dealerships to get there. I have always found their work to be impeccable and their prices reasonable. If the group’s Ford dealership is any indication, the Porsche dealership should be a pleasure to deal with.
Cassie: So this instructor got into my car and we were off to the first station, a counterclockwise skid pad. There is a circle of cones that you try to go around several times in a tight circle just fast enough so your back end does not slide out. Dad went around pretty fast but spun his back end out frequently. Me, on the other hand, I did great.
Michael: OK, she was not going that fast and she has a four-wheel drive. But yes, she did great. And yes, I had turned traction control off and was sliding the back end out often – I never lost it and it is a total blast being able to get that close to spinning out and recovering.
Cassie: We split up after the skid pad. Dad went to another skid pad to go around clockwise and I went to a slalom course. You have to zig-zag in between cones over a set course and it is harder than it sounds. It is actually a pretty good way to gain some confidence in how tight you can turn. They try to get you to be smooth and not jerk the wheel and you also have to be very controlled with your speed – it was driving rain at this point and that made it more challenging. But it was still kinda fun.
Michael: I was back on the skid pad while Cassie was on the slalom and then we switched. From what I could see of her when I was waiting for my next run, she was doing well and gaining some confidence. That is really the reason I insisted she come. Sure, I hoped she would really like driving and that it could be something we would do more of together. Not sure where that stands – probably not. But mostly, as a new driver, being able to mess up and keep things in control (and even lose it with little consequence) is a real benefit. And having an instructor in the car with you at all times to help you improve is always great, no matter how much skill or experience you have. A special thanks to all of the instructors who gave up their Sunday to come out and help teach us all how to improve our driving. They do not really get time to drive and they are volunteers. It is very nice of them to do this for the club and for all of the participants.
Cassie: The last exercise is a braking exercise. You gun the car down a straight and brake into a sharp U-turn. On the way back, you gun it again and then, at a certain point, you are supposed to hit the brakes hard to see what your stopping distance and reaction time were. If you make a mistake, all that happens is that you bury a line of cones at the end. Dad and I meet back up here so I got to see him totally take out the cones – twice! He did look like he floored it, but still, I on the other hand, nailed it. I did not hit the cones and in one case was a mere centimeter away. He is going to hear about this for years to come!
Michael: She did great. I had a blast and really pegged both the gas pedal and the line of cones at the end. And I probably will never live this down. Then it was time for lunch and it was our time to stand out in the rain and work the various stations while those who worked the morning while we drove got their chance.
Cassie: It was decent and I can see how it likely will help my driving. I went home and took a nap.
Michael: As a father, I want her to be a safe, confident and a conscience driver and I think that her participation will pay dividends long after she forgets to remind me that she did better than I did in the braking exercise. As a driver, I know it helped my skill – and not just skills to be used at NNJR events. As a club member, I want to thank the volunteers, the organizers and the instructors for their time and effort in putting on such a fun and instructive event.