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THE CAR – Autocross – October 2011

 
 Well, here comes the slippery slope. As soon as the average driver begins to learn their way around the course and their car control skills begin to improve – guess what happens next? How can the car be improved as I am surely being held back by my car…..  Let’s forget the seat time, experience factors for the moment and focus on sliding down the absolutely justified slippery slope of car improvements. While some of these improvements really are justified and really do help, other modifications may not actually help and may even hinder improvement. This article will cover some of the more basic (and less costly) improvements and future articles will cover items to add to your Holiday wish list.
 The most basic and least expensive changes that are available to all Autocrossers are tire pressure and alignment. The other two most common improvements yet cost some bucks are adjustable sway bars and adjustable shocks (height and damping). If you are new to Autocross, these are often not too expensive, very effective at changing the car’s handling and easy to adjust as conditions change.

PCA Club Race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Raff Keeps His Cool

This event was held as a support race to the Grand-Am American Red Cross 250. For the second year in a row, record high temperatures at New Jersey Motorsports Park could not keep the best Club Racers from the northeast regions of the Porsche Club of America away from the tarmac. This group of 43 fervid PCA drivers came to compete on the same road course with professional and gentlemen drivers in the Grand-Am Rolex Race Series, each gathered with the goal of conquering the narrow 2.25 mile undulating course which is super slick in extreme temperatures. With ambient air temperatures in excess of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, track temps can reach 130 F and in-car temperatures have been recorded at over 150 F. Having the ability to keep the car on track in severe heat conditions would be minor in comparison to the body’s ability to withstand extreme heat as well. Thankfully, the Club Racers would only have to endure six 30 minute on-track sessions spread over three days.

NNJR Concours Competitors Triumph!

 

August was a very busy month for our NNJR concours enthusiasts with the national Porsche Parade in Savannah, Georgia, the New Hope Automobile Show and Concours in Pennsylvania, and the annual NNJR Picnic Concours. And, as we had hoped, our NNJR concours crew did our club proud by bringing home the bling!
During the first week of August, an adventurous crew of dedicated concours competitors headed south to Savannah with their meticulously prepped Porsches to take their chances in what is unquestionably the most challenging Concours d’Elegance competition in all of Porschedom, the national PCA Parade Concours.

My First Autocross

  

Wow, my first Porsche. A 2010 911S Cabriolet and it is gorgeous. It is silver – a gift from my wife for our silver wedding anniversary (did I marry up or what?). And I can drive it any time I want…er…whenever I can. It’s got all this engine and torque and speed. Let’s see, I can get it up to 35 mph on the way to the store – if there is no traffic.  Once I think I actually got it to 45 mph between speed traps on the Turnpike. There are some nice twisty roads around me and driving around a curve is a blast in a 911. But there are other cars, and deer, and people…and it is New Jersey…and I have to pay for insurance…and I wouild like to keep my driving privileges. What is a new Porsche owner to do?
Fortunately for me, an old friend and club member, Grant Lenahan, and a new friend and club member, Tom DePascale (who sold me the car – thanks Tom), were involved with something I had never heard of called “Autocross” and they suggested I give it a try. “What is Autocross?” I asked. They explained that Autocross was a timed event where you compete against others with similar types of cars in a parking lot over a course laid out using ubiquitous orange cones. I hoped that they could not see my lack of enthusiasm. But what flashed into my mind was an old Brady Bunch episode where Greg and Marcia competed in driving skills and Greg lost when he knocked into a cone upon which a raw egg was nestled. Snore.

A DAY AT PCA NATIONAL DE INSTRUCTOR TRAINING

It is funny how time goes so quickly. Especially when you are having fun. Last year, I was a DE instructor for Metro NY and was also invited by NNJR (Northern New Jersey Region) to be an instructor candidate for the 2011 season. In addition to being a Metro NY and NNJR member, I am also a PCA-Hawaii member. 
 I attended the NNJR DE NJMP event on May 16-17, 2011 and unbeknownst to me, the PCA National DE Instructor Program, which was developed and taught by the PCA National DE Chair, Pete Tremper, was given to the NNJR instructor candidates at this event. Thank you again, Pete.
 This intensive all day, National Program was designed to provide a basics of instructor training by use of three on-track mentoring sessions followed by a check out ride and three in-class theory and use of real world experiences followed by a ten question “quiz”. The well experienced Pete provided many funny and practical stories about actual instructor experiences. Many stories included his good friend and current PCA president, Many Alban. Some very interesting stories were revealed. My NNJR mentor instructor, Alan Soberman, pretended and talked to me like a track ‘newbie” and performed crazy maneuvers on track to simulate the beginner student. 

On Track September 2011

September is unfortunately the early close of our 2011 Driver Education season. After a 3-day visit to Lightning at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) September 9-11, the last event of the season is the advanced/solo event at Watkins Glen September 19-20. Many of us are lamenting that the traditional end to our season at VIR in November will not happen this year, but the track has promised us a primo date for next year. Going back to July, there was a momentary glimmer of hope that we would be able to get our date back, but the glimmer faded rather quickly. There were a few NNJR members who had gone to Mont Tremblant a few days before our July 15-17 event at Mosport. They had heard that the race that had bumped our date had been cancelled. I started to think that we might have a chance to resurrect VIR; there was still plenty of time to promote the event and based on the number of people who approached me at Mosport about getting the date back, still plenty of interest. Upon return to the states and checking on the situation, it turns out that yes, a race had indeed been cancelled, but no, it was not the one that was scheduled for our usual date in November. By the way, the Mosport event was fantastic – great weather, great people, and one of the best tracks in North America. Keep this one in mind for next year. As I write this now, final planning is underway for the August event at Watkins Glen. The event is a complete sellout, with waiting lists for every group, including instructors. I mention this as a reminder for next year: sign up the first day an event opens, you will always be accepted!