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CNY PCA Driver Education

The Timeless Article – What is Driver’s Education?
By: John Hajny

Driver’s Education is the event with the highest participation in the PCA. It is arguably also the event offering the greatest reward, on many levels, and for many reasons. Before I get going on the why, let me start with some of the nuts & bolts, as it were.

“Who can participate?” Answer; Anyone who is a full PCA member in good standing (be it main, affiliate, or family), who has a valid driver’s license, who is in reasonable health, and is at least 18 years of age. “What kind of car can I use?” Answer; Any Porsche that is in good enough condition to withstand track use, and that can pass the safety inspection, is eligible. “What kind of gear do I need to participate?” Answer; You need the aforementioned car, a helmet, and possibly an interior-mounted fire extinguisher (some regions waive this requirement for first-timers). Not many of you reading this should find anything particularly exclusive there.

“OK… that all sounds amazingly simple. There’s gotta be a catch. I know… what do I need to do to my car before I go?” Answer; Probably a lot less than you are thinking. All you really need to do is to make sure the various systems in the car are in good working order. You do not need fancy doodads and expensive geegaws to have a good experience at the track (more on that later). If the drivetrain, brakes, cooling system, suspension, and tires are all in good shape, you are probably good to go. Of course there are many specific things that you should check into here, and you can get more information on these from myself or any of our region tech advisors, but the bottom line is that if you have the car and the interest, you can participate.

“Alright… so I’m eligible. Why do I want to do this?” If you strike up a conversation with any PCA friends who frequent the track, their comeback to that question will likely be, “Why the heck wouldn’t you want to?!” There’s an old saying that says that DE is The Most Fun You Can Have… With Your Clothes On! Cute, I know, but also arguably true, if you are a real car nut. Look, by and large, people do not end up with a Porsche by accident, right? They usually have had the notion of one – even the lust for one – for many years. But realizing that dream of ownership should not necessarily be the end of the story. There’s so much more.

Many Porsche owners have followed the marquee’s racing exploits for many years to one degree or another. It is understandably a point of pride for owners of the cars from Stuttgart. Even people who own or admire other brands — bitter competition rivals though they might be– can, in good conscience, do nothing but admit that Porsche has been extraordinarily successful in motorsports. The cars are so magnificently capable that merely owning one and driving it on the streets does not even begin to scratch the surface. Heck… any car will do that. I will tell you right now, in all honesty, that if you do not take your car out on the track, you will never have any idea of how great a car a Porsche is.

That is a bold statement, I know, but you won’t get any argument on that point from track junkies. They already know. They’ve likely been one of those people – perhaps just like you – who had this notion roiling around in their brains for years. “I’ve got this car with all this great heritage, all this performance… and I’m just washing and waxing. Just cruising around on the road. Heck… if I really drive it, I’ll probably lose my license!”

Maybe you take your car out in the country, to that special spot, and have a go at that favored stretch of sinuous asphalt. You might be having a lot of fun, driving well, even convincing yourself that you’re getting it all. Don’t be so easily impressed. First off, you are a danger to society. Bicyclists, animals, other vehicles… you can just never tell when things will go wrong out there.  Crashing by yourself would be bad enough, but what if you took someone out with you? The sports car world doesn’t need any more bad publicity resulting from such inappropriate behavior. The closer you are to the limit, the worse it gets, probably exponentially so. There’s a far better place. Get yourself to the track, Mario.

When you go to the track, you will learn so much more than you can now imagine, even if you think you already have some chops. You will most likely learn how little you really knew about driving. Of course you drive every day, and everyone thinks they know how. Well… not like this you don’t. You will learn that driving like this takes an incredible amount of energy, mostly mental. You will find yourself in a foreign land, thinking intently about so many things that you never did before, in ways that never occurred to you. Nothing is the same on track, and that is quite the point.

How will you be learning all of this? From your instructor. A person assigned to you to take you step-by-step through the many puzzles of performance driving. You will learn everything from how to sit properly in the car, to how to take a turn at a speed you would have previously thought might fling you into the weeds, all in the relative safety of a place designed for such efforts. Your instructor will devote himself or herself to seeing that you not only learn how to drive swiftly and with skill, but that you have a great time doing it.

The result?  Your confidence behind the wheel will swell to new heights, and this will transfer directly to the driving you do every day.  DE participants expand their skills to the point that every day driving can now be done with utter ease.  Improved skills of concentration, anticipation, and confidence in your ability to control your car will render you far more effective as a safe and courteous driver where it counts most.  Your passengers – your friends and family – and everyone who shares the road with you will benefit.  You’ll come away wondering why everyone isn’t compelled to do this.

If all of that were not enough, you will also meet a group of people that really know how to live life fully.  Track rats tend to be ultimate hedonists.  We drive well, we laugh and joke and bench race expertly, we sup heartily, we sleep well, and then we get up the next day and do it all again.  You will never meet a more enthusiastic, diverse, and well-rounded group of people anywhere.  PCA people are generally interesting to begin with and sharing the track bond only deepens those connections.  Sharing the on-track experience with these people that become your dearest friends is an experience not to be missed.

Now you’re fairly itching.  “I’ve got to prepare.”  Panorama and Excellence are filled with glossy pages offering glitzy go fast goodies of all manner and form.  You feel the compulsion to upgrade that car with all the stuff you read and hear about.  I’m now going to explode that myth into tiny bits, and give you the best advice you will ever get on driving.  Spend your money on the most important component in the driving equation: The Driver!

The thing you need to do to learn car control is reach a point where controlling the car by your actions is necessary.  Any Porsche already has more potential than its novice driver.  Adding to the potential of the car may indeed put the limit of control beyond a point that you can reach at all, or at the least, can reach comfortably.  The only way to learn car control is in a car that moves around, and the easiest way is in a car that moves around at a more sedate pace, where the driver is not overly intimidated.  Once the lessons of car control are experienced, then integrated into your subconscious through repetition, they will flash out at a moment’s notice when they are needed, faster than you can consciously think about them.  This is real driving.  Do not impede your progress as a driver by putting the limits of your car hopelessly out of your reach.

Take that money and spend it on maintenance.  Never looked at those wheel bearings?  Been a while since your last alignment?  Those brake hoses are original from 1986?  That old factory seat belt is getting a bit frayed, eh?  Hoses, belts, coolant, oil change, brake pads…  These are the only things a Porsche needs to bring you more excitement than you ever imagined.  Chances are this prioritization will save you a fair piece of change, eschewing all those gee-whiz upgrades you don’t need.  Take those savings and pay for registrations to DE events!

You’ve wanted this for years.  It’s been tickling your fancy forever.  You’ve been making excuses for too long now.  It’s time.  There will never be a better time than this summer.

CNY PCA Driving Instrutors:

Chief Instructor: Mitch Vannordstrand
Bud Burdick Frank Campagna
Thak Chaloemtiarana Brain Daley
Mike Darminio Bill Dawson
Chuck Gladle Joyce Gladle
John Hajny Ed Hurd
Joe Holzer Bill Kohnke
Lin Hurd Rush Pond
Bill Noroski Jeff Turco
Bill Slowikowski Steve Vasina
 Chris White

CNY PCA Tech Inspectors:

Mike Darminio Safety Chair: Gil Wistrop
Bud Burdick Thak Chaloemtiarana
John Hajny Joe Holzer
Ed Hurd Mitch VanNordstrand
Jack Vasina Chris White

Driver Education Forms

MINOR WAIVER
WAIVER OF LIABILITY
CNY DE TECHNICAL FORM
Zone 1 DE TECHNICAL FORM