One of our Porsche technicians was recently traveling with his spouse to Atlanta, when he messaged me that the Porsche Experience Center had a few openings on the day he would be there, and that he was going to drive the new 718 Cayman on a track, skid pad, and various other drive challenges.
It took me all of 30 seconds to start checking airline schedules, reach out to my own better-half control tower for clearance, and then contact the Porsche Center to book an appointment. What a great opportunity to spend some quality time with a new Cayman S in the company of a Porsche driving instructor, as well as have a blast challenging Brandon, our water-cooled Porsche tech, to some driving skills competition!
It was an early start, catching the 5:20 am flight from Chicago to Atlanta, but there was not much sleep to be had, given the anticipation of driving as well as touring the Porsche museum displays afterward. One uneventful flight followed by a 10 minute Lyft ride from the Airport and I was at One Porsche Drive, Atlanta GA.
This is a helluva building they have constructed, on a perfect patch of land next to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, and Porsche clearly put their sound absorption expertise into the project, because when inside, you would never know that a mere 1000 feet away is the flight path for departing jetliners.
Setting foot onto the expansive outdoor patio and viewing area, I was welcomed by the sound of a silver GT3 ripping through a wide sweeper and competing with the departing Boeing Dreamliner screaming overhead. It was a gearhead’s dream. A quick coffee from the Porsche Center café, and it was on to meeting up with my driving instructor, Aaron.
Aaron was a very nice kid, half my age, athletic and quick. I call him a kid, but he has been racing since before he was of age to get a license, so the “kid” part is only in relative terms. On the way down to the car at trackside, we talked a bit about what I was expecting and looking to get out of the driving session. The Cayman S sat there awaiting our arrival, already running and checked out by the crew, in the shade as well which was very nice since the late morning temps had climbed into the upper 80’s by now.
As an aside, I was very aware of just how fortunate of a setting I was in: here I am, about to pilot a pretty close-to-new Porsche Cayman S around a purpose built facility, next to an experienced racing driver and benefitting from his real time advice and guidance, all while luxuriating in ice-cold A/C keeping the cockpit uber comfortable. Thank you Jesus, I’ve arrived.
When booking these appointments, most people probably think that 90 minutes is a little meager, I know that was my thought. Eighty-eight minutes into my drive circuit, with my left leg almost permanently frozen into position on the dead pedal in order to keep myself centered in the too-comfortable-to-be-track-supportive driver’s seat, I turned over the wheel to Aaron for a couple of hot laps. Suffice it to say that the grin on my face was just as wide as when I was driving, probably more so because I no longer had to maintain focus and concentration, I was only charged with enjoying the ride.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire program here at Atlanta, from the progressively hotter laps, to the slide-inducing kick-plate track, through the dry slalom and the low friction drifting circle, everything was geared towards exploring the performance that these incredible vehicles are capable of.
After the driving portion of the day, it was on to the Porsche Heritage Center and Classic Gallery, followed by a stop at the Classic Car Workshop.
I highly recommend a visit to the Porsche Experience Center for any owner or enthusiast of Stuttgart’s greatest offerings. I am already looking forward to my next visit, when I will go to the facility in Los Angeles, which has an even larger handling circuit track and several additional features. For L.A., I am going to have to opt for the GT4 or maybe the 911 GT3. Go big or go home, right?