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Thread: Porsche Experience Center - Atlanta - PECATL

  1. #21
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    Re: Porsche Experience Center - Atlanta - PECATL

    So the wife and I visited PECATL last Friday and it was simply amazing. K-Man S has covered the facility and the overall experience very well, so rather than try and give an exhaustive recount of our experience, I'll try and summarize our day.

    The event reminder from Porsche made it sound as though manuals were standard and you had to opt for the PDK ("If you are unable to drive a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission and require a PDK (automatic) transmission, please be sure to let us know at least 48 hours prior to your session"). My wife called to reserve the PDK for the 718 Boxster but didn't say anything about the 981 Cayman because of that disclaimer.

    When I got into the Cayman, I saw the PDK and expressed my dismay. Apparently, PDK is the default and you have to opt for the manual, so Porsche should probably clear up the language surrounding this. In the end, I was GLAD I had the PDK for a couple of reasons. One, it allowed me to concentrate on the proper lines for each corner as well as my braking zones instead of having to do all of that PLUS worry about shifting, shift points, etc. Two, I'd never driven a PDK and it's far and above any automatic I'd previously driven. It's really quite an eye-opening experience and I'd have a hard time spec'ing a manual Porsche after driving one with PDK.

    We managed to pick a day where a large corporation (Rinnai) had booked a number of cars for its new hires. Thankfully, our instructors got us out on the track ahead of the group, so we had time to acclimate to the cars and track before having to deal with any traffic. That being said, I was amazed at how many cars they had out at one time, yet nary an incident and the wait times for the various tracks were never very long. I was a bit apprehensive at trying to get the car sideways on the skidpad with another car trying to do the same, but it never became an issue.

    The wet skidpad was more difficult than I'd expected, I never got it to drift all of the way around as that dang 12 o'clock section (more slippery than the rest of the skidpad) kept throwing me off! The kickplate exercise was fun, and I found my dormant winter driving skills came right back to me...until I started anticipating the direction of the skid. Once I suppressed that tendency I had no trouble with the kick plate section.

    The dynamics (cone slalom) section was also a lot of fun. I never did find out what my max speed was but my instructor said I was very quick through the cones and let me do a number of runs with the electronic nannies off. I also really enjoyed the low friction road course. I must've run through it about a dozen times in a row (the Rinnai people had gone back in) and my instructor asked if I was done or wanted to go it another couple of times. "Let's do it a few more times, they're not MY tires!"

    By far my favorite part was the actual road course. I've driven go karts and the occasional auto-x stuff they have at various driving events (BMW Experience, Taste of Lexus, et al), but never anything like this road course. My instructor was extremely easy to learn from and his directions were crystal clear each time. By the end of the 2nd lap, he asked what events I'd done because I was apparently choosing the correct lines and braking zones. "Other than some go-karts, just Gran Turismo." By the 7th or 8th lap, he said he was going to stop giving me instructions and let me drive. I performed well enough for him to keep silent until we ended up switching out cars about 75% of the way into the session. I took particular delight in passing the various 911's out there, only being passed once by a 911 S.

    I chose the 981 Cayman because it's the closest car they have to my 987.1 Cayman S. It performed flawlessly, sounded amazing and was supremely confidence inspiring. As mentioned, the wife and I switched out cars and I assumed the Boxster would be more of the same. I couldn't have been more wrong. Everything happened faster in the Boxster, which I guess I should've expected given the greater hp and torque output (and fatter curve). It took me a little bit to acclimate to the new power, its delivery, and how I needed to alter my braking points. Overall it was a very impressive car, though I did manage to fade the brakes after a few hot laps! I will say that the flat 4 does NOT sound all that great, it was a letdown compared to the flat 6's sound. Similarly, the new turbo Carreras also sounded muted but thankfully someone booked a GT3 RS and all was right with the world!

    Once we pulled the cars in for the day, the wife, instructors and I all compared notes about the experience, areas where we excelled, areas where we could improve, etc. My wife isn't much of a car gal, but she genuinely enjoyed the experience and commented that we are going to sign up the kids for driving instruction like this when they reach driving age. I'm sure having a Pro AMA/WSBK racer as her instructor didn't hurt. lol My instructor suggested that I was ready for a full day at the Barber school, but at >$3K that's over our impulse purchase limit so we'll have to plan for that. They do give a 10% discount if you book another PEC session within 30 days (you can book up to 90 days out from there), or the Barber school within 30 days (you can book up to a year out from there).

    After the driving session, we still had some time to kill (planned) before heading out to get our rental car, so we took at look at the Classic garage as well as the museum. There were some interesting pieces at the museum, but having been to the Lamborghini factory and museum in Sant'Agata Bolognese (with a chance encounter with Valentino Balboni himself), as well as the Ferrari museum in Modena, it was underwhelming. I'm sure the museum at the mothership in Stuttgart is far more impressive, I'm just relaying how it came across to me.

    The gift shop had a number of catalog offerings, though I don't recall anything exclusive to the PEC other than a t-shirticon and a few books. That said, it was easy to spend the $125 needed for the free gift (1:43rd Cayenne S). LOL

    The 918 half-Lego racecar on display was pretty cool, and we saw the same Ultra Violet RS downstairs as K-Man S. I just realized we also had the same salmon and schnitzel lunch, completely a coincidence as the wife ordered the salmon and hadn't read his review.

    We didn't stop by the simulators so I can't really speak to them.

    Well...even though I tried to summarize, it looks like I rambled for quite a bit! lol Bottom line, if you're in Atlanta and have a few extra hours, book one! If you're like us, we flew into Atlanta specifically for the PEC and it was worth the effort! The instructors are top notch, the track is sufficiently varied to alleviate any boredom and the cars just work. That may be the biggest takeaway for me...90 mins of abuse and no hiccups for either car. When you factor in gas, tires, wear and tear on the car, personal instruction...it's a bargain. Take note, you cannot use a GoPro for your in-car sessions, so save yourself the extra bulk and weight.

    I don't think my wife particularly enjoyed my application of the track lessons to my driving on the Tail of the Dragon and Blue Ridge Parkway over the next two days (no, I wasn't going all out, just trying to take the proper lines and maintain momentum), but she could at least understand what I was doing and maybe (just maybe) appreciate it.
    Last edited by 2008Croc; 10-11-2016 at 08:01 PM.

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  3. #22
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    Re: Porsche Experience Center - Atlanta - PECATL

    Fantastic review . I am extremely excited about the Twin Brother to PETCAL, in Carson Calif. My neice has been hired in the Marketing Dept.
    She has been training @ PECTAL, off and on, and has said nothing but fantastic things about the Entire facility. There are a few cars on the track from time to time, so you can see a good portion of it, but only enough to tease. I believe it opens next week, but the day has been rescheduled a few times, but I know it is very close.

    Thank you for sharing,
    RichieRich
    2007 CAYMAN S

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