I just got back from the Porsche Sport Driving School 2 day "Performance" class (which is basically the intro level course), at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL.
Overall, it was an outstanding experience. The school consists of a (very) short intro/classroom session that just introduces some basic vehicle dynamics concepts, and then the rest of the time is spent outside--either on the track, or on a series of parking lots that they have set up to do skills exercises on.
The track driving is the centerpiece of the course. Barber is a 2.38 mile course with a fairly large number of elevation changes and blind corners, along with a couple of fairly long straights where you could relax and catch your breath. It was my first time out on a real track, so I can't make any comparisons, but it was a great track to learn on. The facility itself is quite nice, with a giant (and eclectic) motorcycle museum on the premises in addition to the PSDS facilities. Real races and track days are pretty common there, too--I think there is an Indy Car race coming up at that track.
The course was very much oriented toward the novice, which suited me fine. The instructors led either in 911 Turbos (or in a GT2 RS), with small groups of 3 or 4 trailing behind either in Cayman (987.2) S cars or 911 (997.2) S cars. The Caymans were PDKs, and the 911s were both PDK and manual; you rotated through the cars, so everyone got a chance to drive everything, but I think I spent most of the time in a 997.2 manual. The name of the game was learning the line and hitting marks, and the speed increased progressively as you showed that you could keep to the line. By the end of day one we were hauling some pretty serious *** (our group was overtaking all of the others), though for serious track junkies we were probably still going pretty slow.
The track driving was mesmerizing, addicting, and exhausting--even at relatively low cornering forces, the concentration required to learn and stay on the line was incredible, and by the end of each day I was seriously drained. I understand why people spend vast sums of money to go back and do this, though--it's un****ingbelievable, and the occasional epiphany that lets you go faster is like mainlining speed. They gave us a fair amount of time on the track, and while I could say that I would have liked more, I'm not really sure I could have handled it without getting tired/frustrated and making mistakes. I think they have the amount of track time down to a pretty good science.
In between track driving, they took you on the skills courses. In truth, the BMW school (which, when done at Spartanburg, doesn't really have a track component) was better at this kind of stuff, and some of the skills exercises (like an autocross-ish relay competition) were a bit cheesy. Still, it gave you something to do while coming down and taking a break from the track sessions, and some of the stuff was kind of fun (here, do donuts in this 911 on this skidpad).
Probably the least relevant was the "off road" course in the Cayenne, but this was short and was at least kind of interesting. Mainly it demonstrated for me that off-roading in the Cayenne has to be pretty tame, but at least it can ford a deep puddle.
Anyhoo. Would buy again. For those who've got track experience, it's probably not the best thing, as it would be pretty basic, but for those (like me) who've always thought about hitting the track but have been scared at the idea of trying to learn behind the wheel of your own German driving machine, it's a GREAT way to get an introduction to the key principles without potentially having an expensive disagreement with your insurance provider.
They offer a Masters and Masters Plus course which both offer more track driving. I suspect I'll go back at some point for that, though the PITA factor of taking two days off work and getting to Birmingham (plus the cost) are significant disincentives.