High Performance Driver Education: HPDE. Your local Porsche Club region probably does these events at a racetrack either locally or within a few hours drive of your home.
Do our cars go to the race track? You bet they do.
In Florida we have several Porsche Club Regions. Our region, the Florida Citrus Region, is based in the Orlando area, and although Mickey Mouse is not a member, we have been accused of having Goofy in our group. Another region, Suncoast Region, is located on the west coast of Florida in the Tampa area and south. Each year, Citrus and Suncoast partner to hold an HPDE at the world-famous Sebring International Raceway in the middle of the state. This year’s shared event was conducted over the weekend of May 12-13. Over 170 drivers and instructors registered to practice their skills on the 3.74 mile seventeen-turn road course. Several 944’s showed up to navigate the same course that hosts the 12-hour IMSA race each March. The place bleeds motorsports history.
Instead of detailing this specific event, here we will look at three of the 944’s and their drivers. All agree that the 944 is a great platform to hone skills in high performance driving because of the 944’s great handling, predictability and low cost. Let’s meet Michael Rivera, Matthew Shane and Steve Weber.
Michael Rivera: Sarasota, FL
Michael has a 1988 944 Turbo that is set up for the track, although it is still street-legal. He bought the car after it had already been outfitted for the track – including upgraded suspension, sway bars and shocks. He has lowered the car and equipped it with bigger brakes and racing brake pads. Wider wheels and tires complete the package. The interior has been stripped and a roll bar added, along with race seats and five-point harnesses.
“I could have purchased a Turbo, then set it up for the track, but I instead decided to buy a car that was track-ready. I wanted to get on the track quickly.” he said. The car is well sorted and ready to run.
Matthew Shane: Orlando, FL
At eighteen years old, Matthew is no stranger to race tracks. Racing go carts at age nine, he recently moved up to his 1986 944 Turbo. This event was his second HPDE event, and he loves driving the track. The Turbo is also no stranger to the track – his father ran the car in thirty-five HPDE events before passing it on to his son.
His Turbo has been set up for street and track use, and is driven on the street frequently. It has upgraded shocks with Koni Adjustable Sport shocks, upgraded brakes, and a rebuilt engine that has been chipped to increase boost. The car has Porsche sport seats, and is still equipped with the stock three-point seat belts.
Steve Weber: Coral Springs, FL
Steve is driving his 1987 944S at the track and also navigates the streets of South Florida in his mildly-modified car. (The air conditioning has been removed, so summer street driving is not a favorite!) Definitely a “budget build,” Steve has added upgrades and track bits to his car as “deals” have become available – a smart way to go. He has added plastic suspension bushings, larger Porsche sway bars and rear torsion bars, as well as a 944S2 intake and a strut bar. The engine is protected by an Accusump system that he picked up used from a 944 “parts guy.” He runs with Toyo RA1 tires.
YOUR 924S or 944
You don’t have to own a Turbo, an S or S2, or even a track–prepared car to enjoy a weekend at the track. As a beginner at a PCA HPDE, you are will be provided with classroom instruction and an in-car instructor to help you learn the ropes. You will also find out how capable your car is, how well it was engineered, and you will have a blast. “A bad day at the track is better than a good day at work.” Truth.
So take the plunge. Go to an HPDE in your local area, or even an Autocross. Your local Porsche Club regions probably have several events every month. Check their websites and if you haven’t already, it is time to join the Porsche Club of America. Here in Central Florida, we have events at Sebring, Palm Beach International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Roebling Road Raceway in Savanna, and others.
Want to see more photos of our Sebring 944 Stars and their cars?