Learning to look where I want to go, and not where I’m going, was the most difficult thing to learn. This is not generally something you can do regularly on a public road due to things like oncoming traffic, pedestrians and baby strollers. On the track, especially for a car with any kind of power, things come at you fast. The instructors said that if anything caught us by surprise, it’s because we weren’t looking ahead. Being able to see past the apex and pin your exit was the most rewarding part of being on the track. Trail braking into the apex, unwinding the steering wheel and hammering the throttle into the straight is like sneaking into a hospital, stealing a vial of adrenaline, and using it on the spot purely for the getaway. Planning ahead for the apex and exit is like planning a prison escape. Delicate in effort, and hard on the execution.
Trail braking was another trick I had never heard of. Years of on/off-button video gaming had taught me to jam the brakes till I could make the corner, and hammer the gas on the other side. Crashing into a digital tree line had no consequence. Trail braking consists of hard initial braking, followed by never truly letting off the brakes until the apex. This keeps more traction on the front tires, where you need them. Since Glen and I opted not to take the extra insurance, our $10,000 liability loomed over our heads and we continued to soak up every bit of instruction we could.
I’d never driven a 911 in my life other than at an old valet job. (Never, ever, valet your Porsche.) I’m not sure what it’s like to own one, let alone to buy a brand-new one. I’m not sure I ever will. Driving one around the track is comparable with losing my virginity, or the emotion I got when I first laid eyes on my wife. It’s overwhelming at first, but as I familiarized myself with the car, everything felt like it was in the perfect place.
Glen and I earned a spot with our own instructor. We didn’t know if we’d been segregated because we were slow, or fast. I figured if I was with Glen, it was probably the slow part. We soon were lapping our classmates. Repeatedly. It’s a testament to the fact that just because you can buy it, it doesn’t mean you can drive it.
Another highlight was being able to look over the 911 GT2 RS. It showed up out of nowhere. We came out from lunch and it was just there. It loomed over the other 911s like a 15th century king. I wager that if it were parked at the grocery store in a Porsche-ignorant town, women would drop groceries, leaving oranges rolling across the lot. They would forget their children in their shopping carts, divorce their husbands, and wander to the car while kicking off their shoes and unzipping their dresses.
At the end of the second day the instructors drew a name out of a hat for a final ride around the track. Do I even need to say who won? Glen mentioned the car ripped his face off, and he didn’t really mind. I ended up with a ride in the Panamera, a Cayenne S, and 911 Turbo. It’s amazing what a real driver can do. I don’t really get motion sickness, but if I was susceptible to vertigo, I expect I would have likely filled my helmet.
To be honest, I’m having trouble figuring out how to put my emotions down in writing. Driving cars that I point at, take cellphone pictures of, and post on forums was ethereal. The past few days have found me religiously looking at Porsches. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can give up my house and fit everything I own in the boot of a 911.