Gold was discovered in "them there hills" in 1849, and the locals say the "Mother lode" has still yet to be found. In the early days the road from Dayton to Virginia City, Nevada was ripe with activity, as folk from all walks of life discarded their previous lines of work to hopefully strike it rich. Mine shafts were dug, creeks and rivers were panned, infrastructure was built, and other "industries" symbiotic to a "Gold Rush" flourished too. It was truly the "heyday" for this particular area. Today, the road is part of a sleepy, but twisty tourist trail, interspersed with tiny villages containing quaint homes, historic saloons, antique shops and other touristy fare, well within a half hours drive from Reno. But the old road is not such a quiet place today, as an other type of "precious metal" can now be found here.

This thoroughfare with its stunning scenic beauty, grippy surface, rolling undulations, and tight hairpin corners is a playground for driving and riding enthusiasts who live in or are passing through the region. One such enthusiast is Pete Hitesman, a local entrepreneur. Pete takes his Porsches incredibly seriously. His full-on obsession with Porsche sports cars started only a few years ago, having owned 6 different examples in only the past 3 years. Vehicle ownership is only a part of it, Pete has taken part in three Porsche Driving School Experiences (Precision, Performance, and Master's Levels), and well over 50 independent track day events at tracks all over the western USA. Also, he is not afraid to get his hands dirty on any aftermarket project (see side bar 1), and he is heavily involved with a special PCA Porsche GT2/3 internet project. He certainly qualifies as completely Porsche obsessed!

At present, Pete owns four modern Porsches for use in his everyday schedule: The new lightweight Boxster Spyder, the infamous 997.2 GT3RS, the ultra-new and nasty GT2RS, and a new Cayenne Turbo S to get the groceries, and to do some of the hauling to the track. What a lucky guy, indeed. I too was extremely fortunate, in that Pete asked me to fly out to his "neck-of-the-woods" to sample his three high performance Porsche sports cars back to back on some of these interesting and challenging back roads. This is totally my kind of fun, so I promptly booked my ticket before he had half a chance to change his mind!

On a bright and fresh spring day three guys (Pete, Pete's good buddy, and myself), in three spectacular cars, head southeast out of Reno on the Geiger Grade Road to Virginia City, the center of our little precious metal dash.

The Boxster Spyder: This ain't no "chick" car

Pete ordered his Boxster Spyder "Carrara (yes, this spelling is correct!) White" on special natural red leather/grey alcantara with the PDK 7 speed double clutch transmission and the new proper "flappy paddle" steering wheel. This car has a stunning voluptuous presence, and the white, black, gray, silver, and red all seem to work together beautifully. In addition, for those who have not seen the Spyder's minimalist soft top roof in person, I can report that it is truly an engineering marvel. Not only does it look amazing in the "up" position, it can be manually taken down and stored (or re-installed) in less than one minute.

Over the past year of ownership Pete has tweaked the performance of his Spyder for enhanced enjoyment on the side roads and the race track. A set of one piece forged wheels in anodized black along with new Pirelli Trofeo tires in 19 inch sizes, Porsche Motorsport front and rear lower control arms, and a stiffer, custom spec, Tarett Engineering rear sway bar along with a variety of Tarett monoball ends and spherical joints, take the handling prowess of the Spyder up several notches. The sound track has also been improved by adding a full Capristo stainless steel exhaust system (headers, cats, and mufflers) with 3 remote vacuum actuated settings - mild, wild, and crazy loud! All settings are motorsport inspired with full rich sound, but setting 3 should only be used at the race track, or one's neighbours and law enforcement will have something to say! The brakes were upgraded too, starting with a GT3 brake master cylinder, which eliminates the OE Boxster mushy brake pedal feel. This was then mated with a full custom Movit ceramic brake upgrade: monolithic, ultra-durable carbon/silicon/carbide rotors with aluminium hats, and full monoblock calipers. The result is a rock hard pedal, superb modulation control, and ultimate stopping power. This new set up is so good, Pete has already ordered similar kits for both his GT3RS and GT2RS.

Balanced, refined, nimble, and rewarding are words that define the Spyder's driving experience. Sure there is no big power here, but this is one car that is much (much!) more than the sum of its parts. The beautifully weighted steering and proper "flappy paddle" shift set-up (not those original ridiculous PDK toggle switches!) make this open top sports car a dream to drive. Tight steering and handling, smooth supple ride, excellent grip, extremely solid brake feel and efficiency, smooth power delivery, and a sporting sound; the entire package is the "wow" factor.

Standout: I love that open air motoring and that gosh-dang brake pedal!

The GT3RS: Just plain "wicked"

The GT3RS is set up to be Pete's ultimate track weapon. Ordered Aqua Blue with white gold contrasts, this machine has also received anodized black one piece forged wheels with Pirelli Trofeo tires in model appropriate 19 inch sizes, and a blackout front grill insert to visually enhance its wickedness. Since "wicked" is the theme of his project, Pete proceeded to add an Akrapovic Race full Titanium exhaust system and EVOMS ECU flash, to substantially up the sound and power. For even sharper handling the GT3RS' factory PASM coil-overs were replaced with a full motorsport coil-over suspension system by INTRAX with 4-way adjustable shocks and adjustable spring rates (this is done with a unique 4 step collar on each rear spring). In addition, Tarett Engineering toe links, dogbone links, adjustable caster pucks and lower control arm monoball bushings were added to ensure zero slack in the system. For quick balance adjustments at the track a prototype Tarret Engineering rear "blade-type" sway bar was also installed (note this unit is infinitely adjustable and it can be easily done with the car on the ground with the rear wheels in place). On the inside, Pete enhanced his shifting capabilities with 996 "Cup Car" shifter cables, RennLine floor mats, and Sullivan Racing Pedals. Also, for track safety the airbags were removed (partly gutting the interior in the process!), a "Personal" steering wheel with Works Bell quick release was added, and a full factory Clubsport roll cage with weld in floor plates was installed along with Hans device compatible RaceTech six-point harnesses for both OEM CF folding sport bucket seats.

Crawling into this machine takes the agility of a scrawny miner, but once you have made your way over and through the roll cage, fit yourself firmly in the driver's seat, and the six-point harness is properly cinched tight, you are in for a very especially rare treat. Turning the ignition key awakens the GT3RS' 3.8L flat six causing the Akrapovic exhaust system to bark out a loping idle over characteristic rattles from the one piece, lightweight flywheel. Once warmed up the throttle response is tremendous, the power delivery is wickedly raw, fierce, and linear over 3000rpm, and the motorsport exhaust note and howl is completely haunting. The factory tight gear ratios also perfectly match this car's wicked demeanour. With razor sharp steering, an ultra firm and flat ride, astounding grip and road feel, one carves up corners of any kind with ease. The OEM PCCB brakes offer good modulation and effectiveness, but are slightly lacking in initial bite (this is soon to be remedied with the Movit brake Kit). The verdict: Truly wicked! You really do become one with this street rocket/trackday party piece, and it is absolutely unbelievable!

Standout: All of it! An unbelievably communicative and well sorted chassis and the best normally aspirated power and sound one could ever dream of - there's nothing else needed for this street-going race car!

The GT2RS: The "Lighty Beast"

Pete's new "Guards Red" (or "Ticket Me" Red) GT2RS has the "wild" red and black full leather/alcantara interior with the optional painted carbon fiber fenders and lightweight battery. The matt finish carbon fiber trim and aero-pieces on this car are understated from a distance, yet stunning up close, making it a visual sensation for keen-eyed Porsche enthusiasts.

This new GT2RS is touted to be the 620bhp mutant bodybuilding brother of Porsche's track gobbling GT3RS. Even the hardest of track junkies and pro race car drivers alike, quake in their boots and get slightly sweaty at the thought of getting an opportunity behind the wheel of Porsche's latest creation. I consider myself privileged for the opportunity, an experience I will never forget (see First drive GT2RS, August, 2011).

Porsche engineers have done an amazing job creating a flexible, ultra-high-powered engine and mated it perfectly with their best handling road-going lightweight chassis ever. It is truly like driving the tremendously agile GT3RS with an extra 170bhp of usable power, so believe me when I say, "this thing will "slay" any road or track on the planet, and any other street car on it". Its that good! And, its liveable too; the ride is firm, yet compliant. While at the same time the engine delivers supreme drivability and throttle response at any speed or load, and has gobs of neck-snapping torque available on any whim, with zero turbo lag. Also, previous reports of a muted (disappointing) exhaust note are completely unfounded; the interior sound ranges from civil and pleasing to a frenetic building turbocharged roar. What's not to like?

When I asked Pete if he was planning to try his GT2RS out at the track, he replied, "why the hell not, that is what it is for after all". In fact, Pete plans to stretch its legs at the track 4 or 5 times per year just for the sport of it! As mentioned, Pete has a Movit ceramic brake kit on the way but in the mean time he has installed OE fitment MovIt carbon/silicon/carbide rotors as the stock rotors quickly wear out when subjected to heavy duty track time, he will also install a half cage and harnesses for his personal safety, and he has already organized his track insurance in the event of any unforeseen incident; a smart man!

Standout: An everyday ultra-supercar ! And oh that torque!

The temperature drops quickly as the sun's angle decreases during the early evening in the High Sierras, so its time to head back to Reno. What an exhilarating day! Pete's "precious metal" collection spans the spectrum of modern high-performance street prowling Porsches. He has also done an amazing job selecting subtle, and not so subtle, modifications to allow his Porsches to perform even better than when they left the factory; OEM plus, as we say. But regardless of which driver's seat you are in, or which challenging mountain road you are conquering, one takes in a sensory overload that is worth its weight in pure Gold.

More of Pete's Passion

Why not combine business with pleasure? Back in 2010 Pete decided to take the plunge into a new business venture to further his passion for Porsches and track performance. As it turns out, Pete was a graduate of the Nashville Auto Diesel College and earned a living as a mechanic earlier in life. He still loves to get his hands dirty, so "Trackrat LLC" was born with the promise that he would save a lot in Porsche service bills! His 6200 sq ft well set facility is now open in Reno with himself and a 10 year European car technician on staff. Trackrat specializes in Porsche and exotic car track set-up and modification. The shop has two lift bays, Advanced Racing Technologies laser alignment equipment, Longacre Wireless DXI Scales, MK Technologies Scale platorm and set-up stands, Robinaire Premium Refrigerant Recovery System, and Professional Tool Coolant System Service/Recycling System. Interestingly, they are currently doing some serious R&D on a permanent solution to the dangerous coolant fitting leak problem found in late model Porsche GT and Turbo Mezger engines.

2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder

  • Layout: rear engine, rear drive wheel drive
  • Engine: 3.4L flat-six
  • Transmission: 7-speed PDK
  • Suspension: McPherson-strut front, multi-link rear with five control arms, anti-roll bars front and rear
  • Brakes: 6-piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers front, 4 piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers rear, Ceramic Composite Brake system with ventilated and cross-drilled rotors.
  • Dimensions: Length/width/height (in) 170.9, 70.9, 48.5, wheelbase 95.1 in., Curb weight 2866 lbs
  • Performance: Power 320 hp @ 7200 rpm, Torque: 273 lb.-ft., 0-60 4.9 sec., Top Speed 166 mph
  • MSRP: $65,220
  • (+ mods described in text)

2010 Porsche GT3RS

  • Layout: rear engine, rear drive wheel drive
  • Engine: 3.8L flat-six
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Suspension: McPherson-strut front, multi-link rear with five control arms, anti-roll bars front and rear
  • Brakes: 6-piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers front, 4 piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers rear, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system with ventilated and cross-drilled rotors (PCCB)
  • Dimensions: Length/width/height (in) 176.4, 71.2, 50.4, wheelbase 92.7 in., Curb weight 3020 lbs
  • Performance: Power 450 hp @ 6500 rpm, Torque: 317 lb.-ft., 0-60 4.0 sec., Top Speed 193 mph
  • MSRP: $132,800
  • (+ mods described in text)

2011 Porsche GT2RS

  • Layout: rear engine, rear drive wheel drive
  • Engine: 3.6L twin tubo flat-six
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Suspension: McPherson-strut front, multi-link rear with five control arms, anti-roll bars front and rear
  • Brakes: 6-piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers front, 4 piston monobloc fixed aluminum calipers rear, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system with ventilated and cross-drilled rotors (PCCB)
  • Dimensions: Length/width/height (in) 176, 72.9, 50.6, wheelbase 92.5 in., Curb weight 3021 lbs
  • Performance: Power 620 hp @ 6500 rpm, Torque: 516 lb.-ft. @ 2250-5500 rpm, 0-60 3.4 sec., Top Speed 205 mph
  • MSRP: $245.000

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By Doug Neilson
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