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    PSDS 3 day race license course

    Larry Kangley and I had previously taken the Porsche Sport Driving School’s basic High Performance Driving (HPD) and Master’s Driving classes, so when we learned through the Internet they were going to offer an advanced Racing Class, we signed up. We would be the first group ever to take this course at PSDS. To those not familiar with the driving classes the Porsche Sport Driving School offers; they have a two day HPD school, which makes you eligible for the follow on two day Master’s class. Both classes teach you car control techniques and above all safety in a fun filled environment.

    Pointing the way to our classroom

    Jason and Larry in the classroom

    Course materials

    Our classroom

    In these classes you get an introduction to the basics of car handling in classroom sessions, with a practice autocross course, wet skid pad exercises, heel and toe braking/downshifting, ABS braking demonstration exercises and lead-follow driving on the race track. The instructors, which by the way are all world class with extensive and successful racing experience, lead small groups of 4 to 5 cars around the track showing the students the racing line and the braking/shifting points through each of the corners. Each student has a car to him/her self equipped with a one way radio, which is used by the instructor to coach the drivers. Groups are started at a comfortable pace and are worked up to a faster pace over the course of several on track sessions. At the completion of each track session a debrief is conducted in the pits. At the end of the second day in the HPD the students are able to apply their newly acquired skills in an open track session where the instructors observe from various points around the course. The Master’s class is much of the same exercises, but with more open track time on the second day.

    Jason jumping for joy!

    A quick word on the track and the facilities at Barber Motorsports Park, and yes it is a “park”  in the truest sense of the word with numerous whimsical metal sculptures extensive flower plantings, trees and ornamental shrubs throughout the property. The track itself is 2.38 miles long with about 80 feet in elevation change. Porsche has its’ own classroom building and the race track paddock has a large building housing a garage, track viewing areas, a race control room, restrooms, etc. The cars used in the classes range from Boxster’s, Cayman’s, 911 Carrera’s and Carrera C2S’s (with ceramic brakes).

    One of the many metal sculptures

    And then the third course, the 3 day advanced racing license course picks up where the first two leaves off but with a much higher emphasis placed on much more track time.

    Turn 5 & 6

    Corkscrew at turn 8

    Turn 14/15

    Turn 15/16

    Riding the vans towards turn 2

    The morning of our first day was essentially a short classroom review of the car handling techniques we'd learned in the past classes, and a overview of the race track. The class (16 people) was then split into four run groups. Our group and another then went to the car control exercise area, which is comprised of three rather large parking lots in back of the race track paddock area. One parking lot was set up with an autocross course, another had its’ asphalt surface sealed and liberally wetted down by a sprinkler system making it very slippery. The third parking area had a short oval course outlined with cones.

    Initially my  group was taken to the autocross course where each student was taken for a lap in a Boxster driven by the instructor. We then switched seats with the instructor and took another lap. This was followed by a couple of more solo laps for each student. This exercise showed the importance of throttle management and maintaining momentum through the turns. Meanwhile the other group was on the skid pad. We then switched places with the other group and practiced, in a Carrera, wet handling techniques. This session is always fun and provides great amusement for the other students in the group as we execute massive unintended spin outs. The instructor demonstrated how he wanted us to drive a figure eight course outlined by cones. The object was to drive the entire figure eight with the rear end of the car hanging out by about 20 degrees to the direction of travel. Easier said than done! Even the instructor spun while demonstrating the exercise to the delight of the students. This exercise emphasizes the importance of braking and accelerating without totally upsetting the car.

    Discussing heel-toe

    Practicing the techniques

    Larry ready to drive on the auto-cross course

    Skidpad course

    My turn

    Next we went to the dry oval course where we had been hearing the screeching of tortured tires, while another group was practicing.  In our previous classes this is where we had learned and practiced heel and toe down shifting and trail braking. This time a new wrinkle was introduced. Driving a Cayman with its’ stability controls turned off, and with our instructor in the car, we were to accelerate to 30 mph, brake hard, on entering the turn, release the brake quickly thereby kicking the rear end out and inducing a power slide. The trick here was to overcome the reaction to give the car more gas once you thought the car was going in the right direction, because it wasn’t, and if you did, it resulted in a great smoking spin out, which both Larry and I amply demonstrated. (God! I love the smell of burning rubber in the morning!) Each student got four passes with the corner entry speed being increased a few mph on each pass. This exercise was to come into play the next day on the track.

    After a delicious catered lunch at the Barber Motorsports Museum we got into the 911 Carrera’s  for a lead follow session on the track where the instructor in the lead car coaches the students in the cars following him. This allowed us to familiarize ourselves with the racing line, braking zones, shifting points, turn in points, apexes and track out points. If all that sounds foreign to you, don't worry. It was to me when I first started. But, like a muscle memory, everything came rushing back once I got behind the wheel and did a few laps. We then drove the Carrera’s in open track sessions with the instructors positioned around the course taking notes on the students performance. At the end of each session the instructors debriefed us, pointing out what we were doing wrong and where we could improve. Somewhat like taking a drink from a fire hose. This went on for the rest of the afternoon. The two groups that were not on the course could choose a turn on the track to observe with one of the instructors and listen as he pointed out the mistakes the students might be making.

    The GT3 taunting us

    More from day one:

    The next morning we had a brief classroom discussion on how to pass on the track in a racing situation and a review of the flag signals used during a race. There was also a brief presentation by a representative of Stand 21 on their line of race clothing, including shoes, helmets and HANS devices. This custom fitted line of equipment is very much top drawer stuff.

    Stand21 equipment


    Then we were taken to the “corkscrew” (turns 7 and 8) to put into practice what we had learned the previous day on the dry skid pad. As before all the stability controls (i.e. traction control) were turned off. Again we were to try, with proper use of the throttle and brake, to kick out the rear end on entry to the corner and then accelerate smartly out of the corner.  We had done this in the parking lot the day before, but it becomes vastly different on the track. They say that everything you do in the parking lot is magnified on the track. The little mistakes you make in the parking lot can become big ones on the track, if not done correctly. My first attempt resulted in wonderful 360 degree spin with a spectacular cloud of rubber smoke, but somehow I'd managed to stay on the asphalt. Everyone got a laugh out of that! Great fun in someone else’s car! This exercise was ironic, because the instructor wanted us to use the new techniques we had learned the day before, and although we understood these new concepts, it's our muscle memories that forced us to revert back to what we'd learned in previous classes. That's why we had to practice over and over. A means of forcing us to relearn/forget/learn things. This exercise taught us the technique of trail brake rotation which really changed our approach to cornering a rear engine car. Under trail braking we used the weight-bias between the front/rear to kind of 'swing' (rotate) the rear end around a turn all the while keeping the front end pointed in the direction we wanted to go with a judicious use of the throttle and maintaining eye contact with the track out point.

    Some spun out!

    Next we were taken to turn 5 the “hairpin”.  Both the “corkscrew” and the “hairpin” have a downhill component on the entry making it easier to initiate the rotation of the rear end. You have to be patient long enough to let the rear come out before gradually applying throttle.  The challenge was to resist mashing the throttle and upsetting the balance of the car. Bad things can happen, if you do, as I was able to demonstrate with a massive crowd pleasing spin on exiting the corner. Larry did an equally spectacular spin, showing how to come out of the turn backwards using the 540 degree spin technique (not something taught in the class). In both turning exercises the student was accompanied by an instructor, which requires a great deal of courage on their part. Students got three tries at each corner and for the most part everyone executed a successful turn, getting a sense in the seat of their pants of what a trail brake rotation should feel like.

    Owen demontrating proper trail brake rotation

    Larry spinning out

    And yet another spin-out

    Peter at the ready

    After another delicious lunch break we returned to the track to practice a simulated passing exercise. In this exercise the racing line on the entry to turn 5 (the hairpin) was blocked off by the placement of cones. The lane was meant to represent another car in that lane in which the driver would have to get around. This left very little room to negotiate the hairpin curve requiring the driver to have to brake harder on corner entry, clutch-in, heel-toe throttle blip, downshift to third from fourth, then continue to trail brake while apexing the curve and finally squeezing on throttle. Sounds complicated, and it was, but it helps to remember to separate each step into a 1-2-3 sequence rather than try and do everything all at once. We did several laps of practicing the passing technique before being called into the pit. At this point a memory stick was plugged into each of the cars which were equipped with a telemetry device.  We then returned to the track in an open session and telemetry data was collected. During this time Larry was having a great deal of difficulty getting through the hairpin (turn 5). At the suggestion of the observing instructor in turn 5  at end of the open session, Hurley Haywood (The Legend) took him out on the track for two laps of private instruction. He showed him some alternatives to shift points and otherwise generally got him to relax. His speed afterwards increased dramatically. The rest of the day was taken up with open sessions on the track.

    Coming down towards turn 1

    Coming around turn 5

    Some of the drivers with the instructor overlooking the course

    The more powerful C2S with ceramic brakes

    All during the day we had been admiring a brand new GT 3 parked in the track garage. During the afternoon they brought it out and just about everyone got their picture taken standing next to it. But the highlight came at the end of the day when numbers were drawn for five people to get a “hot lap” in it with Hurley Haywood driving. Both Larry and I scored on this.

    Larry waiting for his turn

    When my turn came I buckled myself in for the thrill of a lifetime! Hurley rocketed us out of the pits onto the entry road swinging around turn 2 (the carousel) towards turn 3 up the hill to turn 4. We were barreling down the short straight into turn 5 when Hurley downshifted from 4th to 3rd and then, much to my surprise, 2nd! We had been only using third and fourth gears for our own track sessions. He masterfully swung the rear end around the hairpin as my neck muscles strained to keep straight against the ever increasing g-forces. We were moving at a breakneck speed! Turn 6 then 7 the corkscrew was gone in a flash! Again, he had downshifted into 3rd through turn 6 then again into 2nd before coming around the long banked corner passing the museum on the left towards turn 8 then 9 (the 'S' curves) on to turn 10 then 11. Turn 12 and 13 is where I knew it'd get hairy, because it's another 'S' curve going down into a dip then up a long hill over a tunnel before dropping down again towards turn 14. We were still moving at an breakneck pace. Is this guy human I kept thinking. All this time, he was methodically handling the controls with a very light touch, no strain, no sweat beads developing. Just another day on the job for this master. A man, a racer, a legend 40 years in the making to my left. Through turn 15 with a light jab on the brake, then finally turn 16 through the straightway at warp speed. (Larry had seen 122 mph before the end of the straightaway on his ride) I'd managed to pull out my little digital camera long enough to record the 2nd lap ( This is the man, the legend and the master at work here. I was privileged to experience it all.

    When Larry got out of the car after his ride his eyes were rolling around like a pinball machine. He definitely had that Mr. Toad look about him as he kept mumbling something about a motorcar!

    On the ride in the van back to the classroom, we talked about how Hurley got his start. 40 years ago at the tender age of 21 he met a driving legend who came out to an autocross course he had gone to with his car. There, Hurley impressed the racer and who took him under his wing and taught him how to be a “racer” not just a fast driver.  I was in awe. On the shuttle ride back to the hotel, my adrenaline levels crashed and I was dead tired. I perked up a little after some “bench racing” at the bar before dinner. We all had an engrossing conversation over dinner at the hotel with our tablemates about our cars, racing, and other tall tales.

    More from day two:

    On day three, the morning dawn brought fog combined with a light drizzle. The track was wet, which meant there was the potential for some scary things to happen. Although it had stopped raining by the time we arrived in the classroom, we were reminded to drive with care. We reviewed some of the things we'd learned the day before then jumped head first into our new lesson of the day, how to start a race. This would be the final step needed for everyone to gain their race license certification. We were told that we would follow a pace car after forming a two abreast grid at the start line. After the first turn we were to get into a single file and continue following the pace car. At the next to the last turn before coming onto the straightaway we were to reform into our two abreast grouping and shift into second gear. The pace car would pull off the track and the pole position car was to maintain the set pace (about 35 mph) towards the starting line. If the starter saw that everyone was in order, he would wave the green flag, and off we’d go shifting up to third, storming into turn one.  The steps seemed complicated to most. The potential for excitement brought on by emotions, an adrenaline rush, missed shifts or forgetting to shift with a resulting accident had everyone apprehensive and very nervous! We were told the steps over and over but to many it didn't seem clear. It was stressed that trading of paint was not desired, and that situational awareness was the key to getting everyone through the exercise. It would eventually become very clear once we got on the track.

    Hurley Haywood giving us a few tips on becoming a true "race car" driver

    Jason and Hurley

    The cars were wet

    And so was the course

    Actually we got a break, because while the first two groups practiced their starts, we went to the track office overlooking the track and were able to watch how the whole exercise unfolded. While the others were practicing starting, we met with two of the instructors to review the video/telemetry recorded the day prior covering all sorts of data/video during one of the open track sessions. We were able to compare our data with that of an instructor driving a “hot lap” around the course by use of an over lay of the data. This provides a great learning tool. Discussions ensued with each individual getting input on what could be improved and what was being done correctly. Each student got to keep his memory stick with 2 gb worth of video/telemetry courtesy of Porsche and the developer of the software. At home we’ll be able to watch the lapping videos but not see the data acquisitions until the software is released for a free download in about a month.

    Cass discussing the track telemetry

    Bruce, Svend being lectured by Chris Hall with Angus observing

    2 gb worth of video/telemetry recorded onto memory sticks

    Two videos side by side (Cass driving on the left and the student driving on the right)

    We then went to the track to practice our three starts. After having watched the others it became somewhat anti climatic. All of our starts came off without a hitch. After the starting exercise we resumed open session driving. Based on Larry’s success with the use of different shift points on corner entry, I to tried experimenting with different shift points around the track to see what worked the best. That made all the difference in the world for me because I was able to negotiate the turns much faster while keeping the momentum going through the curves. By the end of the open sessions I had a good feel for the track and was driving faster than ever before.

    Where we had lunch

    The only 2009 Targa 4S with PDK available (more is expected later on)

    Each table had at least one instructor

    Everyone also had a chance to drive the more powerful C2S at least once. I found that I didn't like driving it as much, because I'd gotten used to the C2. I even got black flagged once or twice too, prompting a few quick sessions in the pit area. Once was because I'd made the mistake of downshifting from 4th into 3rd at the end of the long straightway. I'd already gotten close to the engine redline by then and although I braked hard, I still wasn't going slow enough for 3rd gear resulting in the engine bouncing off the redline causing the back end to 'wiggle' dangerously. If I had done this in a curve, I'd have spun out big time. I was told to make the downshift just before turn 2 instead. At the end of both open sessions, we were all taken back to the classroom.

    Fleet of C2S cars!

    The first of 3 green flag starts

    The fleet roaring past the starting line

    Towards turn 1

    Some of the many supplies for us were cones

    Tires! Lots of them!

    Extra helmets

    The only GT3

    The GT3, Larry and Jason

    Sexy from above

    Coming to an end

    Jason after the last session

    Andrew, Jason and Jeff

    Jason and Cass

    Jason and Chris

    Back in the classroom, everyone picked up a handsome Certificate of Graduation suitably framed, said their farewells and were sent on their way. It was the end of an exhaustive 3 day program and now we were one step closer to becoming racers! We all came away with greater skills, confidence, and an appreciation for how wonderful the Porsche cars truly are.

    Final discussions

    Time for farewells

    More from day three:

    We also briefly browsed through the Barber Motorsports Museum. A multilevel showcase of 1200 unique vehicles mostly motorcycles collected by Mr. George Barber from throughout the world from the earliest ages until modern times.  My favorite was the 850cc V8 powered Morbidelli (visualize the size of the cylinders!) along with the Ducati tri-colored 1098S. Anyone with a love for anything with a motor should take the time to visit this museum when at the track.

    V8 powered Morbidelli

    Ducati 1098S Tri-color

    More from the museum:


    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    Jason, simply a 10/10 thread here !!!! Smiley

     thanks for taking your time in such a great says it all !!!!

    I really enjoyed reading it !!!!Smiley Smiley


    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    This brought back great memories. I went for the Porsche Driving experience in 2004 and it was fabulous. I remember coming back with each turn imprinted into my brain. The first day was kind of scary and somehow overnight you absorb so much that the 2nd day was a lot more comfortable and I was feeling that I could be driving 10 to 15 mph faster than the lead cars.

    Your thread, made feel like it is time to go back and enjoy it again.

    Thank you so much for the great thread.


    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    Jason, that is a top notch report. Thanks very much for the effort.

    I've taken a couple of similar courses with Porsche here in Europe. The programms seem to be quite similar, even though they usually don't have celebs like Hurley Haywood. Your report brought back some very good memories. Thanks again.


    Matt C
    2005 997 C2S / 1988 911 3.2 Conv.

    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course


    Jason, simply a 10/10 thread here !!!! Smiley

    Hehe, first time I actually used the rating stars in RT 2.0 Smiley

    Superb report and pics, Jason - thanks so much for sharing with us SmileySmiley

    The course sounds like very comprehensive teaching all the techniques important on a track Smiley

    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    Great thread!! Well done Smiley Now you need to do some racingSmiley
    Off enjoying my car...

    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    Be sure to watch the hot lap video

    997 GT3 Hot lap with Hurley Haywood from Jason Tang on Vimeo.


    Re: PSDS 3 day race license course

    Jason - simply AWESOME.  That looked so much fun!!!  Very jealous.

    Fantastic write up too.

    So the GT3 ride not tempting you away from the Turbo I hope...

    MY2008 997 Turbo - Cargraphic stage II powerkit (544PS/798Nm) | HRE P40's | Bilstein Damptronics | GMC Sway/Toe-steer/Dog-bone kits



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