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    PDE Users Guide

    Porsche Driving Experience (PDE) program at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama can simply not be described in one word. Whether you're already a Porsche owner, someone who has a car on order (like me), or just someone looking to have a lot of fun and take away some valuable skills from the best instructors in the country, the PDE program is for you. It is probably why so many participants return year after year.





    I've read the prior posts on this forum and thought that I would try to fill in the gaps with some nitty gritty details and logistics.

    Getting to Birmingham
    The Birmingham Airport (BHM) is serviced by most major carriers including Southwest Airlines (if you're looking for inexpensive travel). The recommended hotel (Ross Bridge Resort) will pick you up at the airport; therefore, there is no reason to rent a car unless you plan to tour the area or don't want to be tied to the hotel transportation options.

    Hotel Accommodations
    Porsche recommends that you stay at the Ross Bridge Resort in Birmingham. This is a new Marriott hotel property with a championship golf course surrounding the hotel. PDE hosts a dinner here after your first day. If there is one downside to this hotel property, it is the 40 minute driving distance to the track (and the airport). A few of the participants found hotels closer to the track, but nothing in Birmingham comes as close for quality like the new Marriott. In the end, the vast majority of course participants will stay at the hotel, so make it easier on yourself and go with the flow. Plus, the hotel provides transportation to and from the track.





    The Program
    The hotel shuttle leaves promptly at 0700 for the 40 minute highway drive to the track located on the other side of Birmingham. You'll want to wear you helmet on the shuttle ride because the drivers of the shuttle all want to impress the Porsche participants with their high speed driving abilities. urr:

    PDE has their own small building at the Barber facility. You will be welcomed with a nice continental breakfast and then about an hour or so in the classroom.



    You will be broken up into small groups of 3 or 4 depending on your class size and by 0930, you're loaded up into the VW Vans and shuttled to the track where there are four different stations:



    #1: The track itself: a 2.3 mile, 15 turn rollercoaster of a track and perhaps the best in the United States. This is where you will be assigned a 911 Carrera for your two days. With the exception of your laps in the Carrera S (with ceramic brakes) on Day 2, this will be your car to use. For those desiring a tiptronic vehicle, they are available.

    The 911 Carreras (as are all the cars) are current model year. Your group will be assigned an instructor who will lead all laps around the track. Day 1 is spent getting accustomed to the track and working up to higher speeds in the afternoon. The first day, you will drive the track in 4th gear. On the second day, after your heel and toe instruction session on the lower practice course, you will shift between third and fourth gears (normally used for this track). As the number of laps increase under your belt, the faster the laps become. The pace of the laps is controlled by your instructor. Each driver gets to rotate following the instructor around the track.















    At the end of the second day, you will have an opportunity to do a hot lap with the instructor driving. If you thought you really picked up your lap times by the end of the second day, just wait for the hot lap.

    #2: The autocross course is set up in one of the parking lots behind the track. Here you will drive both the Boxster (Day 1) and the Boxster S (Day 2). Both Boxsters are tiptronic. The autocross is set up for you to learn to maximize speed, braking and cornering without taking out the cones. On Day 2, you will have time competitions with the other groups. Low time for the event in our class was 7:17.84. The quickest individual lap was 29.40 in the Boxster S.







    #3: The skid pad is a large rectangular area that has been painted with driveway sealer and wet down with a series of sprinkler heads from the edge of the pad. Here you will drive a Carrera (tiptronic) with PSM disabled in a figure 8 course. There will be a timed event on the second day. The lowest time posted in our session was 1:12.04.







    #4: Lower practice course. This is a multi-purpose course used to teach braking, heel and toe shifting, demonstrate the Cayenne, etc.







    Each group (3 or 4 participants) rotates between the four stations. Staff runs the rotations like clockwork in order to keep everything organized. Each station will have a different instructor. In the end, you will be exposed to all the instructors working your session.

    At the end of the second day you will have an opportunity to tour the Barber Motorsports Museum, a large collection of motorcycles and exotics.





    View of the Track from the Museum



    FAQs

    Should I take my helmet?
    PDE provides open face helmets. If you have one and want to lug it in your luggage, sure, take it.

    Do I really need driving shoes?
    About half of the class had driving shoes, the others wore sneakers or some other type of close fitting shoe.

    Is there anything else I should take that would be helpful?
    Take a backpack or duffle bag with you to the track with the following items:
    a. Sunscreen
    b. A jacket, sweater, GoreTex (if it rains)
    c. Sunglasses
    d. Hat

    Is there anything else I can do to maximize my experience?
    a. If at all possible, tell your office, employer, clients, etc. that you will be out of touch for two days. Leave your cell phone in your hotel room and focus on the experience. Cell phones are discouraged, provide distractions, etc.

    b. Make a list of questions that you might want to ask the instructors before attending. The instructors are all professional drivers with an incredible wealth of knowledge and information. You will be given every opportunity to take full advantage of learning as much you want.

    c. Don't miss the opportunity to do the test track in the Cayenne S or the hot lap on the Cayenne Turbo. Bottom line is the Cayenne is a remarkable SUV that has excellent handling and performance characteristics for a 5,300 lb. vehicle.





    d. Take a camera.

    e. If you do have a car available to you, go to Dreamland in Tuscaloosa on the last night of your stay. Highly recommended by the locals if you like the best riibs in the dumpiest of places. Truly a place to remember and I highly recommend it. If you don't like ribs, don't go because there is no menu.

    Re: PDE Users Guide

    Quote:
    bravocharlie said:
    Porsche Driving Experience (PDE) program at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama can simply not be described in one word.



    EXCELLENT post.

    Been there, done that, could not have described it better

    Re: PDE Users Guide

    Quote:
    bravocharlie said:
    nothing in Birmingham comes as close for quality like the new Marriott


    this is a very good informative post!

    but living less than 10 minutes from the track i do take issue with the above.:)
    birmingham does have some very nice quality hotels!
    but ross bridge does sit by one of the robert trent jones golf trail courses so that is a nice benefit.

    very nice pictures that show some of the beauty of birmingham and the track as well!

    Re: PDE Users Guide

    Thanks a lot, bravocharlie! Yes, excellent post!

    Definitely something I would love to do before collecting my baby in September.


    surprising

    surprising lack of interest in porsche driver education?
    this post got 82 replies and more than 1400 looks on rennlist!?!?

    Re: surprising

    That was a fantastic post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Re: surprising

    looks like being great fun, thx for the pics/infos.

    Re: surprising

    Quote:
    icon said:
    surprising lack of interest in porsche driver education?




    Since the Barber track was built to FIA and FIM standards, I was hoping safety would be a higher priority with the PDE requiring each car be equipped with a roll-cage, 6-point harness, and a fire system along with each participant required to wear nomex clothing, closed-face helmet and a HANS device.


    bravocharlie,

    Thank you for the user guide.

    Re: PDE

    I was there a couple of years ago and had a fantastic time. I highly recommend it. They also have a full Cayenne program, track and off road.

    Re: PDE

    Yes, I was there a couple of years ago too. It was a fantastic experience and I plan to do it again. Great experience. Thanks for the report!

    Re: PDE Users Guide

    That's the one THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I tried looking for hours but couldn't find it

     
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