PuMP You up!

Flashback 30 years ago (when SNL was watchable) to the Hans and Franz skits: I’m here to pump you up! Although I’ve done several challenging point-to-point road drives (including multiple TT East and TT West adventures) as well as Porsche Club of America (PCA) tours, both on and off-road, I’ve never been to the track. Earlier this year my friend Alan, who has always been a Porsche aficionado, finally found a Porsche 911 Carrera S (997.1) and we started considering doing a track event: a high-performance driver’s education (HPDE); it’s not a race. Fortunately, our local PCA chapter, Alpine Mountain Region (AMR) hosts several in the area. Alan, my wife Tracey and I decided to try the Red-Hot Brake Rotors held at Pueblo Motorsports Park (PMP) on the first weekend of June.
To get my car ready for the event I had the brake fluid flushed and Loren at European Performance Specialists in Colorado Springs inspected the car and provided the checks required by PCA (on an inspection form) the week before the event just in case something needed attention. Alan used Porsche of Colorado Springs and Tracey used Audi Flatirons up north for their inspections and PCA checklists.
As my car is slightly modified, I recommend having all the extra “tweaks” you may have on your ride double-checked in addition to the normal function checks just in case; it’s never fun to fix something last minute, especially on the ground of an event and remember top off the tank nearby. (I had one session where my mileage was 9MPG, w/a 2.0l turbo…)

Day One:

Fast? Tracey and I headed down to Pueblo on Saturday, she was kinda on the fence about this and I assured her if she didn’t like the HPDE she’d not have to do another one. Robin, the AMR HPDE chairperson, was invaluable assuring Tracey that she would enjoy going to the track. My assigned instructor (all beginners are assigned an in-car instructor) was Dan who had significant car and track experience, especially on PMP. On the first day of an HPDE there’s both track and classroom sessions to review and prepare for time in the car and advice on using the track.
Dan began the day with driving my Audi S3 around the track for three laps to familiarize me with the course and then I took over for a couple initial laps. Dan’s patience throughout the day far exceeds any I have ever had, and he coached me through, always reminding me to look up and into the corner trying to detect the cones placed to help with apexing through the course. I felt as if I was driving fast and knew my corners were choppy; I was unnecessarily stressing myself and the car to go “fast” but that was only in straight stretches. I felt like I was connecting the dots with straight lines stomping alternatively on the gas or brake pedal. I’d get a corner here and there correctly, or at least OK but certainly not even half were done right (and there are 10 corners at PMP).

Day Two:

Smooth(er) OK, I admit it, I was a little sore after the first day (amazing what four 20ish-minute sessions on the track will do to the inexperienced) but was looking forward to improving my track skills. My assigned instructor for the day was Mike. Alan and Tracey had the same instructors from the day prior. Mike and I had done the Royal Gorge Tour (he was the lead and I believe I was mid) and the Treffen held at the Broadmoor in 2022; he asked what my goals were and I said I wanted to be smoother, even if slower. He corrected me and said that smoother is faster and then he drove me through the 2.2-mile course and the landmarks (instead of the cones) he uses to optimize the course. By the end of the day, his advice was right, instead of connecting cones / points I was connecting curves / corners; I finished the day knowing I had improved, even if I didn’t quite break to 2 minute lap-time I’d hoped to but I was close. I felt less beat up and had driven the car with significantly more stability than on day one. Apparently, you can teach an old dog…

Recap / recommendations

We really lucked out with the weather, mostly overcast, 60’s and a sprinkle here and there, but no real precipitation to hamper fun on the track. We were told they run the course rain or shine unless water pools up on the track. My advice is to get a tote to stash snacks, water, sunscreen; a jacket and all the stuff you didn’t take out of the car at home. “Top tech” inspectors will go over your ride before the start each day and even your glove box needs to be empty. Get there earlier than you think, it’s less stressful and allows a calmer start to the day and time to deal with the unexpected. Tracey, Alan, and I were very impressed with the all-volunteer instructors (and organizers), Dan helped me with speed, Mike with fluidity. Tracey was very happy with Tim’s patience (not me, ever…) and knowledge and Alan felt his instructor fit him very well too. If you’ve been waffling on trying a HPDE or similar event, do it! Tracey even mentioned about doing another.


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