The owner practicing accident avoidance.

A post not long ago recapped the awesome fun we had instructing at the HADA Advanced drivers school.  Near the end of the day when we had switched over to a longer drill format (which is a lot like a typical autocross run) I started to get the itch to hop into my car and make some orange pylons nervous.

So I told one of the organizers that I was going to get into my car and go for some runs.

“If you do, take some students with you!”

Didn’t have to tell me twice. Didn’t take long to find some passengers either. Often times it’s hard to find out exactly how hard you can push a car until you go for a ride with someone who pushes harder than you. Even I still have little epiphanies when running with other drivers. So these relatively new students were more than keen to see what a few years of experience can do.

I recognized a Porsche Boxster S from spectating at a track day run at Toronto Motorsports Park not long ago. I asked him about his car. The car was fairly new to him and he was going to events designed in order to learn where the limits are. Good on him for that.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

He asked to go for a spin, I obliged.

I’d been practicing transitioning a powerside from left to right on our figure 8 section and was having some fun not worrying about time and just jostling the car through the narrow ‘accident avoidance’ type sections. He must have been impressed, as he asked me to see if I could do the same in his car. With him riding along of course.

After a brief moment of, “That’s waaay more expensive than my car, should I?”, I decided to give it a go. I mean, how often do you get a shot at a Porsche? One where you actually get to drive it? Like, really drive it?

Sitting in it was a treat. It wasn’t hard to find a comfortable seating position which allowed the controls to fall naturally under my hands and feet.

“Would you like the stability control or traction control on?” he asked. “I’d like them off if your OK with that,” I replied.

The throttle and clutch felt a bit plasic-y under my feet somehow. The throttle felt stiffer than my car while the clutch, oddly, felt lighter. As a result, I stalled it. Twice. (This flipped the traction control back on) I didn’t get any initial impressions from steering as I was only driving it 5 feet to the staging line. The wheel looks big, but it doesn’t feel it. Likely because the actual rim isn’t that tick.

So after only driving about 5 feet for 30 seconds, I was to impress the owner. No pressure.

We were released by the starting marshal and off we went. Immediately I could feel the traction control and stability control intervening and making suggestions through the slalom. It didn’t feel like they were slowing me down, but I was definitely aware of what the systems were up to. I immediately yelled “Hey! The stability control is still on!” as we were ending the slalom section. And in the next long left hander, he reached over and turned it of.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

The owner practicing accident avoidance.

Almost immediately the car started to get some power oversteer. Alright. No more worrying if the car liked my cornering abilities. The rest of this lap was going to be all me.

Normally when driving someone’s car, I won’t attempt heel-toe downshifts as it’s not an easy thing to pull off. Especially when when you’ve only been driving the car for one minute. This car filled me with quite a bit of confidence. Reacting and behaving exactly as I was expecting it to. So down a gear I went while under braking. Revmatched without a hitch. Nice!

I decided to use the second half of the figure 8 to put the car into a slide. The Boxster’s rear tires broke free easily and predictably. Some arm fulls of opposing steering wheel input, and it was dealt with without fuss. Very nice.

The rest of the run went fairly well, some more oversteer on the run down to the finish. And it was all over in a flash.

It’s amazing how many words can be written about a 30 second autocross run. But when your in a Porsche, you tend to not forget much. The car left quite an impression. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so willing and balanced. I was actually expecting to feel completely out of my element and afraid to really explore the limits of the car. But I was quite wrong.

Big cheers to the chap who let me hoon around in his lovely machine. It was a drive to remember.

Video below!

Link to video