Hitting Apexes….. Feb 2014

I am sitting here in Vermont thinking and it is currently 5°F on the way to a balmy 19°F. But, I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming DE season and the car projects I want to get done before our first event. I am not sure what was on your Christmas lists, but somehow I did not find a new 4.0 clutch and LWFW under the tree this year. My wife Lisa started participating in DE this year and I figured I would pepper my Christmas wish list with car stuff. Oh well…….
In my January article I introduced our 2014 schedule and I am happy to report that all contracts have been signed, deposits sent and so we are all set to go. By the time you read this we would have just held our Introduction to High Performance driving. This seminar introduces DE to those who have never tried out this amazing sport and gives them the basics of what DE is and how to get started. Our next event is the very popular High Performance Driving Seminar for Instructors on the morning of February 8 and then our seminar in the afternoon that is geared more for intermediate/advanced drivers. Our speaker this year will be none other than Pro Racer Bryan Sellers who is driving for Team Falken. Bryan is the only non-factory driver racing the all new 911 RSR in 2014.
So it is now 7°F and I am thinking about my car again and what other changes I want to make. Hmmmm, no Halo seat under the tree either. But wait, I do remember when I first got involved in this crazy sport, my wife did get me a roll bar for my birthday as well as a HANS device for Christmas. Wow, what a woman and she does get it!! This got me thinking about my first Porsche and how I went from the wax and shine crowd to the driver crowd (I still do wash and wax my car but it is more to get the black rubber marks off than to enter a Concours). BTW, those Concours guys really know their stuff, so do not underestimate the benefit of going to some of their events. Besides, everyone knows that a washed and waxed car does go faster.
When I graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering and got my first job, I was living in Westchester County NY and was fortunate to be able to drive up and down the windy Saw Mill River Parkway from Mount Kisco to Tarrytown every day. What a road, and look, there goes another 911!! Hey, why do most of the guys driving these cars have graying hair?? More about that later. During my teenage years, my car was a Chevy Impala (which was great for dates considering the wonderful front bench seat) but I really wanted some sort of sports car. A friend of mine had an old BMW 2002, another had a Triumph Spitfire and another had an old GTV6. I wanted a Porsche!! I used to drive over to the VW/Porsche dealer in West Nyack and drool over the 911’s in the show room. I then learned more about the price of the car and had a life decision to make. Should I continue to save to buy a condo or do I save for that 911?? Well, Lisa and I were just married and so the condo won out.
Sailing and sail boat racing came into our lives and we had many years of tremendous fun and some great races. Well, I guess we can push off the 911 a little bit longer. Here comes condo #2 and eventually a move to Germany. Wow, we are headed to the land of the 911!! Maybe this will be my chance? Sorry, no 911 yet but my company car was a HUGE E Class Mercedes so at least I was getting closer and I could, once the car got going, cruise up and down the Autobahn.
We eventually moved back to the USA (first to Chicago and then to where we are now in Morristown NJ) and it was time to get that 911. I started looking in Hemmings and every other sports car listing service to no avail. Either the car was too expensive or too far away. Then one Saturday morning I see a listing in my local paper for a 1997 911 Cabriolet in Guards red, a black top and the Cashmere leather interior. Now that’s a respectable sports car. I went to see it that day, had a PPI done on Monday and the car was mine by Wednesday. I finally got my 911 and promptly joined the PCA. That day, Lisa and I went driving around the back roads of Washington Valley, Mendham and Bernardsville. Wow, what a car and that SOUND coming from the rear was intoxicating. No need for any sort of car radio even though it had the optional Bose System. I drove that car for nearly a year and was a solid member of the wash and wax club (even though I never entered a Concours event). Somehow this car remained a garage queen and well, (hold your breath) I sold it. What was I thinking!!! Not soon thereafter I did go out and buy another 911 and this one was the same exact car as before, but in Black with the same lovely Cashmere interior.
It is with this car, I got my start with AutoX and really began to understand just what I owned. This was probably my first year of AutoXing, I attended my first Porscherama and witnessed this wonderful thing called DE. Now that looked very very cool and I have always been somewhat of a speed demon and had to find out more. I happened to be parked next to Alex Catto and he explained the sport to me but did say I would need a roll bar. What? I had to drill holes in my beautiful 911? No way!
Somehow the next year I happened to attend a PCA Club Race at Lime Rock in support of the NNJR racers. I really did not know anyone in the club but I did run into Craig Mahon who was feverishly gassing up his car and headed back out. I took my spot on the hill overlooking Big Bend and was witness to the most wonderful thing in the world. All kinds of Porsches battling it out. The sounds and smells were wonderful. I then made a commitment to get that roll bar and at least try out DE.
Well, 5 Porsches later, I do approximately 25-27 track days per year in my 2007 GT3 and am now your DE Chair who will hopefully also become a Nationally Certified PCA Instructor in April of this year. And yes, I still see a bunch of guys and gals that have a touch of gray, driving these wonderful machines up and down the Saw Mill River Parkway and wonder if they are PCA members and if they DE or not. They do not know what they are missing if they have not experienced the pure joy of driving and equally wonderful, the people and friendships that await them.
See you out there and if you have yet to try out DE or AutoX and want to learn more, or have some ideas on how to improve the program, just give me a call or email me at vicepresident@nnjr-pca.com

Tom Iervolino