This is a guest post by Momtourage writer Scotty Reiss. She is the owner of A Girls Guide to Cars, a longtime friend, and a seriously fast driver.
I have driven fast with Scotty on other tracks, driving a Porsche with my foot to the floor is on my bucket list. Here is all the information on how she got 27 women on the track, and how you can do it too.
A Day at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta
We see our guy friends drool over Porsches. We see professionals in these high-powered sports cars at races and we see them on the road. But they seem so unattainable that we may not consider the idea that we could be behind the wheel. Or, we dream of owning one but we don’t consider being able to drive it the way it should be driven: Full throttle on a track.
Women Behind the Wheel
The idea of track driving can be a foreign idea to women, but it shouldn’t be. Take it from me, a former track novice and now track junkie, driving faster than you’ve ever driven, in a controlled environment, with a pro coaching you through every curve and straightaway, this is not just a thrill, it’s empowerment that teaches you that you can do anything.
So, it was my mission to take a group of writers to experience track driving for themselves. We brought 27 ladies (and one lucky guy) to the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta for a day. These ladies are not race enthusiasts, professional drivers, adventurers or adrenaline junkies. They are moms, average women, typical drivers. And, two of them were pregnant and one was recovering from a recent surgery.
There we experienced a bit of Porsche history, the modern majesty of the Porsche Experience Center building, which did double duty as the HQ in the Avengers movies, and a farm-to-table meal at 356 Restaurant that could have been the focus of a five star review. It was delicious and not what you expect at a track. But, this is Porsche.
What It’s Like to Drive a Porsche on the Track
“After I got done driving on the track with my coach, I remember grinning and still giggling because it was awesome. I felt on top of the world,” Teia Collier said. “There is absolutely nothing like it.”
Wait. A coach? Yes! All good track programs offer drivers the opportunity to have a pro in the ‘right seat’— and even as a semi-experienced driver, I love having a coach. A pro driver can guide you to drive the track efficiently and help you get the most performance out of the car. Which means you can go faster and have more fun.
Stacie Connerty found having a coach was hugely valuable. “I could ask all kinds of questions. He told me to listen to him and trust him. He was right.”
Adding to everyone’s confidence was the ‘track talk’ that kicked off the event. A team of instructors led us through what to expect on this driver development course, which is designed for learning not racing, and gave us a calming message: You should drive as fast as you feel comfortable. Again we are learning, not racing.
They went over the rules of the track and an overview of the experiences: the 1.6 mile handling course, the skid pad, an off- road course, the Launch Control track (which is similar to a drag strip) and the kick plate, which ‘kicks’ the rear of the car into a spin as if you’ve hit ice; your goal is to recover control and drive out of it gracefully (which not *everyone* did well, even though I tried several times).
“I needed the track talk. Naturally, I was excited, and in time, my excitement gave way to a case of nerves,” Erica Mueller said.
“The track talk helped to put me at ease and let me open up to the experience.”
Learning to Drive on the Track
First we headed to the simulators where we previewed the track through a video game-like experience. Each simulator is essentially a car’s cockpit fronted by a 180-degree screen that gives you a full view of the track in front of you. Time in the simulator was really helpful, especially for those who hadn’t been on a track before. “It prepared me for what a real track is like, and even though it was just a simulation, there was still an adrenaline rush,” Monica Siembieda said.
Then, it was out to the track where we paired up with a coach and picked out a Porsche model to drive: a 911 Carrera, 718 Cayman or a Boxter. One by one we made our way out to the handling course and then, to the different experiences.
Flooring It – Literally
Probably the favorite exercise of the group was Launch Control, which lets you rev up the engine then floor the accelerator to drive as fast as you can on a straight track. “Launch Control pushed the boundaries for me. Pedal to the floor and awaiting the coach to tell me when to brake?” Natalie Merola-Garcia said. “Yeah, it was hard at first, but my coach talked me through letting go and really going for it. I’m glad I did.”
Another popular, and thrilling, experience was the off-road course. There, we hopped into Cayennes where one of the track’s pro drivers took us up steep inclines, down even steeper hills, though a half pipe and through a 19” deep puddle. All in elegant Porsche comfort. “I was shocked at what the Cayenne is capable of!” Monica Siembieda said.
Everyone drove confidently and not one of them had an ‘incident;” no crashes, no tears, no puking. All of which you might expect on a track where everyone is driving 90 MPH in $100K+ cars. And, with a pro driver in the passenger’s seat coaching them to go faster.
What was the biggest surprise? “How confident I felt after just a few minutes. I started out a bit cautiously, but my confidence and my speed increased quite quickly,” Jenn Mitchell told us.
I really enjoyed having the coach sitting next to me,” said Adeina Anderson. “I am a visual learner, so I appreciated that I was able to actually do what the coach was telling me at the same time.”
The big takeaway? “I was surprised How comfortably easy the 911 Carrera is to drive,” said Autumn Murray, who had always wanted to drive a Porsche but didn’t realize the opportunity was so accessible. And Kim Smith, said “I learned ways to improve my every day driving skills, like getting out of a spin and driving better on windy roads. I’ve put that to use when driving on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island.”
But probably the best part was “A) Getting to drive a Porsche 911. B) Experiencing this thrill with our group and having the fun TOGETHER,” Erica Mueller said. “I can’t recommend this enough for groups of ladies who want to do something fun together.
How YOU Can Drive a Porsche – FAST
Thinking of doing this? Porsche experiences are open to the public in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and start at $365 for a 1.5 hour experience; simulator experiences are $35 for a half hour.
Scotty and her team were guests of the Porsche Experience Center. Why should we trust her opinion?
Scotty Reiss is a Juror for the World Car Awards, a Board Member for Women in Automotive, and President Emeritus for the International Motor Press Association. I have worked with Scotty in the past and trust her opinion on all things automotive, I highly recommend using A Girls Guide to Cars as a resource.