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A Learning Experience! (my first DE)

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Well, I just finished a weekend of fun with my Boxster that I can honestly say has been one of the highlights of my driving experiences so far, in this or any car.

I was in Portland at PIR for the Drivers Education session held by the Oregon PCA on Sunday; all participants had an awesome time (no accidents or broken parts that I know of). The conditions were just about perfect, high overcast and not too hot, ORPCA ran a great day of driving and even provided dinner for the participants, Thanks!

I was in the novice class with the other beginners and rookies and even though there were a variety of makes and models the 20 minute sessions were both exhilarating and a lot of work, now I have a greater appreciation for what a professional driver has to endure for a full multi-hour race, it’s a real work out! It was a good thing that there were restaurants near by, I don’t recall being that hungry after any activity for a long time!

I did an orientation session where the instructor drove my car to show me the track and the appropriate line for PIR. The orientation session was great because no matter how many times I watched the video or ran through the pictures of the course, there was still a feeling about ‘the unknown’, not only would I be pushing the limits of my driving skills and the abilities of the car but doing it around other ‘rookies’. The biggest consolation was that the rules were clear and the violations for breaking them were just as clear, with a few actions earning a black flag and an unchallengeable expulsion from the day’s event, and nobody wanted that!

The first time out was a real learning experience, just keeping track of the other cars, the flags and driving all at the same time was good to fill the 20 minute session with more then enough to digest back in the paddock. After my first driving session I got to ride with the instructor in his car (2006 Z06 Corvette), talk about fast, the effect of 505HP was as obvious as was the set of Hoosier racing tires keeping us glued to the surface! Should anybody be tempted to think that the Corvette can’t run with the best of them has never seen what they can do let alone ridden in one being driven properly.

Next it was my turn behind the wheel of the Boxster with a fresh appreciation of what the track could hold for speed and turning forces (not that my Boxster was a match for the Z06), but up till then I wasn’t sure how fast I could(should) go or what it would take to break loose in a corner. After the tires were fully warmed up I know I had notched it up quite a bit when during the second lap I noticed that the previously relaxed instructor shifted his position and braced for the tight chicane at the end reasonably hot run down the front straight at just over 100mph! Now I know I wasn’t anywhere near his league, but for a beginner I don’t think that I was doing too badly. After a bunch more laps that session I left the track much happier and with additional confidence in the car and my abilities to stay out of trouble. :drive:

The third session was even better, more things coming together but at the same time, that need for some additional speed was making it a bit tough to hold the proper line, timing for turns and braking were even more important now. The instructor did a great job of explaining what I needed to do and where I needed to be with my car, he was quiet until a reminder was needed or to pass along a compliment of a good line chosen, thanks Dave! With these latest skills I was able to take the corners at speed where we could just feel the car reaching the limit of lateral acceleration for the line I was on. This is not to say I was going as fast as the Boxster could go but rather I was at the limits of my skills for that day and where the car was on the track.

So in the end I am happy to say that I finished the day without a mishap, no damage to the car only a little less tread on the tires and life in the brake pads. What I did learn was that these cars are very capable and with proper driver input can maneuver in a way that most owners never understand or experience. I think that I know a bit more about driving then I used to and all of this may help me survive the daily adventure on public roads. B)

One thing I do know for certain, I have a lot to learn and a ways to go to run with the advanced group. I will be back… :thumbup:

Edited by Westcoaster
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It definetly sounds as a GREAT EXPERIENCE...

I have been planning on joining a DE event myself and your comments encouraged me even further. I havent done so yet because I need to replace my seats to lower ones, to pass the tech inspection (broom stick).

Anyways, I have a quick question - I know the event is safe. However, would your insurance cover had any damage happened to the car? Did u need to contacj your agent before the event?




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It definetly sounds as a GREAT EXPERIENCE...

I have been planning on joining a DE event myself and your comments encouraged me even further. I havent done so yet because I need to replace my seats to lower ones, to pass the tech inspection (broom stick).

Anyways, I have a quick question - I know the event is safe. However, would your insurance cover had any damage happened to the car? Did u need to contacj your agent before the event?




Since every insurance company is slightly different you should check with yours to be sure.

But to answer your question I did call and explain what I was about to do and carefully explained that there was no racing, no timing of runs and the goal was to learn how to better drive the car, they said I would be covered. In retrospect, before I go to the next DE I am going to check with them again and see if I can get a letter that confirms that I have coverage for such an event.

One of the other things I did find out was that PIR is one of the better tracks to learn on, forgiving and with room around most of the course for some mistakes to be rewarded with a bit of grass into the suspension. Some track leave no margin for error so ask the DE organizer about this.

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Congratulations! What an incredible experience! I am hoping to participate in one by the end of the year. Did you have to modify your Boxster at all for this? (seat belts to harnesses, fire extinguisher, additional roll protection, and the like?)

As this is a DE and not a race, the requirments are certainly less then what would be expected in a competition car. I did not have to do any modifications to the car. The Boxster has a roll bar already and no fire extingusher was required.

They did check the wheels and tires and brakes regarding their servicability, verified the torque on the wheel bolts and made sure I removed any loose items from the car including the floor mats. As for exact requirements, the organizing club should have their check list posted online or available so you can prep your car. ORPCA listed these items on their website so there were no surprises.

As for me, I was required to have a Snell M2000/2005 approved helmet and to wear long pants and a long sleave shirt, prefferably cotton. That was about it.

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Hi Westcoaster,

So they did not check the clearence between your head and the roll-bar? Thats my main concern since I am 6'4''....And I heard of a certain Broomstick rule.



Ahhhh, depending where your height is (legs versus torso), this could be a problem, they didn't check me because I'm a short %$^$, only 5' 10", but believe it or not I sit pretty tall in the saddle, my helmet was almost parallel with the top of the roll bar.

Here is what is posted on the ORPCA site about this point:

Cabriolets require a roll bar or factory roll over protection. Your helmet must be below the roll bar - same goes for the instructor.
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