Smiles Per Gallon

What is your definition of the most fun you can have in a car? As a kid, I dreamed of the chance to drive a Lamborghini Countach. To hear the noise of twelve angry Italian cylinders shouting at Ferraris each time they fired up. Only to then want a Ferrari F40, which I still consider to be the pinnacle of automotive achievement. Or perhaps to slide behind the wheel of a Porsche 959 to get the feeling that when you add classic design and the latest (for the early 90's anyway) engineering, you come away with something so technically marvelous that it defies belief. Over 200mph? In 1986? Wow, wow, wow. I chased the supercar dream right up until about last year. Then I saw the light.

What Drives Us?

Over the course of a driving season, I find that my emotional love of the sport changes dynamics severely. A dialog is constantly playing in my head: "Am I just going in circles? Do I need to improve my car? Do I need to improve myself? Do I still enjoy this?" And it is quite surprising, even to myself. I constantly assess what makes me enjoy this sport so much. Why do I do this? Why do I spend time and money driving in circles?

When It's Time To Call In The Professionals

Have you ever wondered how much faster than you a pro driver would be in your own car? I often have. But how would you ever find yourself in a situation where you could find out? Well, I found myself there just the other day. And here is how I did.

Photo of Lee Carpentier, Lamborghini Trofeo race driver, from his Facebook page

2015 PCA Concours d'Elegance Photos

It's September 12, 2015, and the Porsche Club's annual concours is at the Larz Anderson museum in Brookline, MA. So many amazing cars. 3 new GT4's! A 918 Spyder!! First time I've seen either of those in the flesh. And some other amazing items: a 997 GT2, a 996 GT2, an RS 4.0, a 911 Club Sport, a Beck 550 Spyder, and more 911s, 924s, 944s, 928s, 356s, and 914s than you could ever hope to own. Yet another amazing turnout.

Driving Back to School, Fall 2015

As the kids settle into the new year in school, I'm hoping all of you adult types are also interested in more education - of the driving type, of course. The heat of summer is falling away (after this week, maybe, anyway) so the weather should be perfect for enjoying some fun with cars. The next couple of months have some good things in store so I thought I'd better do a quick review to make sure everyone has the info they need to plan for fun and education.

September is full of driving events for me - and hopefully for you too!! September 12 sees the Porsche Club annual Concours d'Elegance at Larz Anderson auto museum in Brookline MA. It will run all day and all the show-quality cars will be there for this one. The location alternates each year between this great spot and the Elms down in Newport. There is a Waterfire that night in Providence too, so make it a full weekend! Sunday, the 13th, is the summer season kid's karting championship race for my son on the joint track indoors at F1 Boston. He has finished up third in the points for the season and we'll see if he can add any additional hardware to his trophy case this time out.

Is High Performance Driving Safe?

There is an old debate rising up with new vigor lately: is high performance driving getting to be so dangerous that major changes need to be made? There has been a recent major incident (fatality) at Road Atlanta (RA) that seems to be spurring the online commentary and chatter. Heavy hitters like Ross Bentley (one of my favorite authors, of Speed Secrets fame) and Don Salisbury (founder of Blue Ridge SCCA region, Blue Ridge PCA safety head) have weighed in. And they say that horsepower is too high, speeds are too high, and danger is too high. And that changes need to happen.

These two highly-knowledgeable instructors propose that speeds on the straights at tracks for cars without roll cages be potentially limited. Ross Bentley says, "We either make cars have all the safety equipment, or we control speeds." When asked how he came up with the idea to limit speeds on track, Don Salisbury states, "That is easy: Structural integrity, kinetic energy and years of watching high speed incidents "tearing apart" and "balling up" cars in club and pro races with a large part of that being the heavier Showroom Stock cars. You have street cars without rollcages doing 150+ at some tracks. They were never designed to crash at those speeds."

There was an interesting counterpoint made by Mark Hicks, General Manager at Chin, one of the largest private organizers of track day events. He contends, "In the last 5 years, I'm aware of 4 fatalities nationwide in track day/HPDE events: 2 involved running-off into trees after loss of control in a corner at tracks with inadequate safety barriers. 1 was a crash at corner exit that resulted in an injury that was exacerbated by an undisclosed medical condition (a normally healthy driver would have likely survived). And, the incident most recently at Road Atlanta, which happened on a straightaway. Applying a straightaway speed limit cannot be demonstrated to have a mitigating affect on a single one of the incidents described above. Even though the nationwide numbers of participants has increased in recent years, there's not a sudden spike in fatalities. In fact, fatality probability, as a factor of track miles driven, is probably at an all-time low."

Personally, I have enjoyed many side conversations (often on Facebook) on a related range of topics such as, "what exactly is the educational component of high performance driving education (HPDE)?" and "how is progress measured, especially if lap times are no longer applicable?"

Driving three cars at the same time: fun at ADSI on July 19

It's mid-summer and hot. And a great time to enjoy driving! A few ACF members and friends took a trip down to Quonset Point to attend the July 19 session of ADSI's high performance driving school and autocross. I wanted to see how many of my cars I could get down there to experience so I enlisted the aid of Alex SdB and Mike M so we could manage three: the '07 997, the '86 944, and the '73 914. 


Folks, one of our own from Providence and ADSI has had a spell of bad luck at a hillclimb at Okemo. Many of you probably know Jesse Whitsell, proprietor of Banchwerks - a great auto shop in Providence, fierce driver of an E30 M3 which spends most of its time going sideways, and all around great guy who is always ready to provide automotive advice and a helping hand. 

Should you be so inclined, you can help him with medical bills and not being able to work for a while as he recovers from surgery.

A Real Guide to Palmer Motorsports Park

I hope everyone is having a good summer and is getting excited for ADSI at Quonset on July 19th!! 

Here is some breaking news! A very experienced driver–and a person I'm very happy to have recently met: Ron Savenor–has posted a much more in-depth look at the right way to get around Palmer Motorsports Park at speed. I found it pretty fascinating to compare his impressions to mine. The big takeaway for me is that I was throwing out too much of the theoretical line, thinking I was finding a faster way around the track. I now realize that it was faster largely because of my own limited skills! This info has helped me to see that I was on to something by observing the helpful camber in places on the track, but I was also leaving a lot of speed on the table by trying to cut corners too sharply. That was also probably hurting my tires a bit more than I should have been. 

I hope you find it as instructional as I have. Thanks, Ron!