A Volunteer’s Look Back at June’s Clash at the Glen

Here’s a look at June’s Zone 1 Clash at the Glen from a volunteer’s perspective provided by Club member Laird Conover.  Laird’s photos and video capture the excitement of the race and the rewards of volunteering.  Volunteers are always needed; contact Club president Jim Morgan if you’d like to get involved.  If you’ve never driven a DE event, Laird’s photos may be the stimulus that will get you on the track next season.  Keep an eye on the blog and calendar for information on next year’s DE events.

 

 

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October Drive and Dine: Leaf Peeping Through the Catskills

The changing of the season is upon us and one of the true jewels of living in our region comes with the changing of the leaves.  To enjoy this annual spectacle, we’ve scheduled a terrific D&D over the Helderberg escarpment and across the northern reaches of the Catskills Mountains.  Plenty of scenery to enjoy, complimented by stretches of hill-outlined straightaways and a variety of winding roads through hamlets ending in “Ville” and “Hollow”.  It’ll be an enjoyable two hour run, culminating with a stretch along the Hudson River and ending with lunch at Yanni’s Too, at the Coeymans Landing Marina.  Chef Mark Yanni is known locally as  “The Calamari King”, offering several variations to choose from.  But the menu also plays to mass appeal, with any type of surf, turf or vegetable dish that might take care of your appetite (yannisrestaurants.com).

The plan is to meet by 10 am at Stuyvesant Plaza, in Albany (1475 Western Avenue, if you’re plugging it into your GPS).  If you’re not familiar with where it is; it’s where the Northway (I-87 South) drops down into Route 20 (Western Ave).  The plaza is just two minutes south of I-90 and has several options for breakfast (Starbucks, Bruegger’s Bagels, Peaches Café and Bountiful Bread).  If you’d like more specifics, feel free to contact Bryan Hollenbaugh (bryanhollenbaugh@aol.com).

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Rural Albany and Schoharie Counties

If you’re looking for a longer drive, here’s one that will take the good part of a day, especially if you take in some of the sights along the route. Should be great in leaf season. It starts across from Crossgates Mall in Guilderland; however, the focus of the drive is rural Albany and Schoharie counties, starting on Rte. 85 in New Salem.  Use the accompanying directions to get to New Salem or choose your own route if you don’t want to start at Crossgates.

Suggestions for customizing this route to match your interests are found in the directions which are included as a PDF file to allow you to print them and take them with you on the drive.  Depending on the route you choose, highlights of the drive include:

The Huyck Preserve:  Located in Rensselaerville, NY., the preserve offers twelve miles of hiking trails and easy access to the beautiful Rensselaerville Falls.  A hike up the trail along the falls ends at Lake Myosotis and a nice setting for a picnic. To swim in the lake it is necessary to be a member of the Huyck Preserve. http://www.huyckpreserve.org/

The town’s early history can be viewed in the Gristmill Museum, operated by the Rensselaerville Historical Society.  The museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer season and by appointment at other times.

http://albanyhilltowns.com/wikiRville/index.php?title=Rensselaerville_Grist_Mill

The Palmer house in Rensselaerville has a long standing reputation as a fine restaurant.  It was a favorite of Andy Rooney.

Vrooman’s Nose:  A spectacular outcropping of rock that sits 600 above the Schoharie Valley.  The Nose is reached via a relatively easy 1.5 mile trail.  The views down the Schoharie Valley from the Nose are spectacular. http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-york/vromans-nose-trail

Barber and Shaul Farms on Rte. 30 West.  Incredible produce grown from the rich soil of the valley. The Barber Farm operates the 1857 Distillery which makes small batch vodka.

The Christman Sanctuary.  Located off the Schoharie Turnpike in Duanesburg, the sanctuary is a wooded nature preserve straddling the Bozenkill.  A 2.2 mile trail, described as suitable for a variety of skill levels, ends at a 30’ waterfall.  http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-york/christman-sanctuary

Middleburgh and Schoharie are quaint villages with a  variety of places to eat.  History buffs can visit the Old Stone Fort. http://theoldstonefort.org/ . The Carrot Barn in Schoharie is also worth checking out.

http://www.schoharievalleyfarms.com/index.php/what-schoharie-valley-farms/carrot-barn-retail-store

N.B.  I’ve driven or ridden my bike on virtually all of these roads; however, I have not done the entire drive, from start to finish as it is described.  I have not driven on Cotton Hill Road or Rickhard Hill Roads.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve been on Westfall.  Feedback on the suitability of these roads will be greatly appreciated as will any other suggestions for improving the drive- the editor.

Here’s the route: rural-albany-county

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Zone 1 BBQ Cancelled

The Zone 1 BBQ scheduled for 9/30 – 10/1 in Saratoga has been cancelled.  It will be rescheduled in 2017 as the the Zone 1 Getaway.  Details will be posted on the blog as soon as they become available.

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Saratoga Auto Museum Hosts Monthly Dinner-Business Meeting

img_1029He’s written a book on model railroading and worked with the Tour de France; but he’s best known for his career in auto racing.  Starting as an amateur sports car racer, Sam Posey established himself as one of America’s racing greats.  Professionally, he made his mark racing Ford Mustangs and Dodge Chargers in the Trans Am series competing against the likes of Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Jim Hall; drove in the USAC Championship Car Series, including a start at the Indy 500; raced in two Formula I World Championship events and entered the NASCAR fray driving in the first Grand National event of 1970.  Retired from racing, Posey went on to a career as a race reporter, analyst and broadcaster- in addition to pursuing his other interests.  He also amassed an amazing collection of race cars, some of which were on display at the Saratoga Auto Museum, the site of the Club’s September’s dinner-business meeting.

While members dined and enjoyed Posey’s cars,  club officers brought them up-to-date on HCP happenings.  The club, now at 618 strong, continues to add new members.  With over $80,000 in the bank, club finances remain strong.  The remainder of the year’s calendar offers much to do and planning for new year’s activities is well underway.  Of note:

  • Rooms are still available for the Club’s weekend get-away to the 1000 Islands, October 28-30. The trip includes a stay at the beautiful 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, dinner and two breakfasts at the hotel, a boat trip on the St. Lawrence River and optional tours of Boldt Castle and the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY.  Contact President Jim Morgan if you’re interested- president@hcp-pca.com.
  • The annual Club banquet will be held Saturday, Nov. 12th at the Clubhouse Restaurant at the Western Turnpike Golf Course on Rte. 20 in Guilderland, NY.  The Clubhouse is operated by the Malozzi family so expect great food- and a great evening getting together with other club members.
  • The banquet features a silent auction, proceeds going to local charities.  Members are encouraged to consider approaching businesses with which they have a relationship for donations to the auction. Goodie baskets, gift certificates, bottles of wine, pet grooming, car related products- they all work.
  • The Coats for Kids drive, another of the Club’s charitable activities is about to begin. If you have a winter coat at home you no longer wear, consider donating it to the drive.  You can also participate by helping place donation boxes in various locations in the community.  Contact Sharifa Perry at charity@pca-hcp.com if you’d like to help with the Club’s charitable efforts.
  • A leaf peeping drive is scheduled for Sunday, October 16th. Watch for a Club email with more information.
  • The new member luncheon will again be held at the Century House in Latham. If you’re a new member make it a point to attend.  Great food and lots of club info.  Saturday, March 11th.
  • Next year’s social calendar will kick off in January with Sunday brunch at Saratoga Prime and a viewing of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Our activities chair, Louis Dahoda, is looking for suggestions for Drive and Dine activities for February and March, months when most of our cars are still in hibernation.  Contact Louis if you have any ideas-activities@hcp-pca.com.
    Last year’s activities included a play at the Little Theatre in Saratoga and a session at Price Chopper’s Market 32 cooking school.
  • The season’s last autocross will be held the weekend of October 8-9. Autocross chair, Matt Rutten, is working on staging the event at the SPAC parking lot.  Matt say the condition of the lot promises a great day of autocross driving. Things are still in the planning process. Check the blog and your email for updates.
  • The last dinner-business meeting of the year will be held Monday, Oct. 3rd at New Country in Clifton Park.

Finally, watch for some great new blog content.  We’re working on ways to post alerts of Porsches on sale in our area and of available garage space for winter storage.  We also hope to launch a marketplace where members can buy, sell and trade all things Porsche.  Keep checking the blog for updates on these additions.

A look at the meeting and some of Sam Posey’s cars on display at the museum…

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Porsche Introduces Eco-Friendly Panamera Hybrid

Sustainability and performance – no contradiction for Porsche

From Porsche Cars N.A.: Atlanta, Georgia.  The Paris Motor Show will see Porsche unveil the next model in the all-new Panamera line: the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid with standard all-wheel drive and an electric range of up to 31 miles (50 km). The plug-in hybrid vehicle generates 462 hp of total system output and delivers impressive fuel consumption of 2.5 l/100 km, which corresponds to only 56 g/km of CO2 emissions. All figures to date are based upon the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

Performance Hybrid
At Porsche, the term “hybrid” is synonymous with sustainable mobility and performance – most recently displayed with the back-to-back victories of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and 2016. This philosophy is now also defining the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid.

The new Porsche plug-in hybrid always starts in electric mode and continues as a zero-emission vehicle with a maximum all-electric range of 31 miles and a maximum speed on battery power of 86 mph. And yet, this Panamera is still a sports car among luxury sedans: the all-wheel drive four-door Porsche achieves a top track speed of 172 mph and delivers a total system torque of 516 pound-feet without hesitation. The torque is transferred to all four wheels, while the standard three-chamber air suspension ensures an optimum balance between comfort and performance at all times. The newest plug-in hybrid sports sedan breaks the 0-60 barrier in just 4.4 seconds.

New hybrid strategy based on the Porsche 918 Spyder
The superlative performance is no accident: the new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid features a hybrid strategy never before seen in this segment – a strategy based on the 918 Spyder. The 887-hp 918 Spyder is the fastest series-produced vehicle ever to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The record lap time of 6:57 minutes is in part attributed to the additional power provided by two electric motors.

As with the 918 Spyder, the power of the Panamera electric motor – 136 hp (100 kW) and 295 pound-feet of torque – is made available as soon as the driver touches the accelerator pedal. On the predecessor model, the pedal needed to be pressed at least 80 percent of the way down to unleash the additional power of the electric drive’s “E-Boost” mode. Now, the electric motor is available to deliver additional power at any time. Together with the performance characteristics of the new 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 (330 hp and 331 lb.-ft.), this generates an impressive boost scenario based on the electric motor and turbochargers.

In the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, the electrical energy is also used to increase the car’s top track speed. At Porsche, this new type of “E-Performance” – more power, more driving fun, lower fuel consumption – is seen as the performance kit of the future.

New hybrid module and fast-shifting eight-speed PDK
Together with the combustion engine decoupler, the electric motor heralds the next generation of the Porsche hybrid module. In contrast to the electro-hydraulic system of the previous model, the decoupler on the new Panamera is actuated electromechanically by an electric clutch actuator (ECA), resulting in even shorter response times.

Similar to the other second-generation Panamera models, a new, efficient, and extremely fast-shifting Porsche eight-speed Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission is used to transmit the power to the wheels. This transmission replaces the eight-speed automatic torque converter transmission in the previous model.

The electric motor is supplied with power via a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery. And despite the increase in energy content of the battery from 9.4 to 14.1 kWh (integrated under the luggage compartment floor), its weight has remained the same. The high-voltage battery takes just 12 hours to fully charge via a common 120 V, 10 amp connection. If the optional 7.2 kW on-board charger is utilized instead of the standard 3.6 kW unit, the charging times decrease to under three hours with a 240 V, 40 amp connection.

The charging process can also be initiated using a timer via Porsche Communication Management (PCM) or the Porsche Car Connect app (for smartphones and Apple® Watches). Additionally, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid features standard auxiliary air conditioning which can cool or heat the passenger compartment during charging.

Porsche Advanced Cockpit with hybrid-specific displays
One highlight of the second-generation Panamera is the newly designed display and control concept in the form of the standard Porsche Advanced Cockpit with touch-sensitive panels and individually configurable displays. Two seven-inch screens either side of the analog tachometer form the interactive cockpit, and in contrast to the other Panamera variants, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid features a power meter tailored to hybrid operation. The intuitive operating principle of the hybrid-specific displays is similar to that used in the Porsche 918 Spyder hypercar. The power meter provides data such as the amount of electrical energy currently being used as well as the amount recovered through recuperation.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen functions as the centralized Porsche Communication Management (PCM) control and display unit. The driver can access various items of hybrid-specific information both here on the display and in the instrument cluster. The boost assistant and hybrid assistant are both practical and informative. The former display shows the energy available for boosting, while the latter provides various visual signals for regulating the electrical drive power.

Ultimate efficiency in “Hybrid Auto” mode
The Sport Chrono Package, which integrates a mode switch into the steering wheel, forms part of the standard equipment on the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. The mode switch and PCM are used to activate the various driving modes. These modes include the familiar “Sport” and “Sport Plus” modes from other Panamera models equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. The hybrid-specific modes are “E-Power,” “Hybrid Auto,” “E-Hold,” and “E-Charge.”

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid always starts in “E-Power” which puts the powertrain in a pure electric mode. The “Hybrid Auto” mode is a completely new development which adjusts and combines the internal combustion and electric mode drive sources automatically for ultimate efficiency.

The “E-Hold” mode allows drivers to conserve the current state of charge of the lithium-ion battery. This will allow the driver to utilize electric mode (and therefore drive with zero emissions) in an environmental zone at their destination, for example. In “E-Charge” mode, the battery is charged by the V6 engine; to achieve this, the gasoline engine generates a higher level of power than is needed for driving.

The highest level of drive performance is made available in the “Sport” and “Sport Plus” modes. The twin-turbo V6 remains active in these modes. In “Sport” mode, the battery charge is maintained at a level to ensure there is sufficient e-boost capability when needed.

Finally, “Sport Plus” mode is all about maximum performance and allows the Panamera to reach its top track speed of 172 mph. This mode also recharges the battery as quickly as possible with the help of the twin-turbo V6 engine, while also dipping deeper into the power reserves to ensure maximum e-boost is available.

Panamera 4 E-Hybrid availability and pricing
The new 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid is expected to become available in North America by the summer 2017. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

 

 

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World’s First Electric Ferrari

An “obscene concept” is how Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne describes the conversion of a classic 1978 Ferrari 308GTE into an electric vehicle.  It’s certainly not the “Magnum P.I.” car driven by Tom Selleck.   As reported by Matthew Knight for CNN, the car is the work of Eric Hutchison and the crew at California based Electric GT.  Purchased for $10,,000, the Ferrari was a burned out wreck, the victim of a fuel leak and fire, abandoned on a California highway.   It was the perfect vehicle for electric conversion, an idea that was hatched during a conversation over beer between Hutchison and a few friends.   Hutchinson claims the Ferrari’s tube frame is ideal for handling the power and torque produced by the three Hi Performance Electric Vehicle Systems AC51 motors that propel the car.  According to Electric GT,  the motors produce the equivalent of 415 hp and 330 ft/lbs of torque.  Currently the car’s range is only 150 miles but the Electric GT team is working to expand that.  The 308’s power and upgraded suspension make it a great car for the track.  In this year’s Leguna Seca Re-fuel Races, the car placed third in the event’s conversion class, clocking a 2:11:648 lap time.  A Honda fit EV, running in the Production GT class posted fastest time, lapping the track  in a bit over 1:56

Electric GT says it’s committed to converting classic cars into electric vehicles.  For more on the company and  the world’s first electric Ferrari here’s the Electric GT’s website: http://www.electricgt.com/

Want to read Matthew Knight’s original CNN story? http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/05/motorsport/ferrari-308-electric-world-first/index.html

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Lime Rock Historic Festival 34 – Sunday in the Park

Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock for providing a look at this year’s festival.  Tropical storm Hermine stayed away, the skies were blue and the cars were outrageous.

All photos by Greg Clark and Casey Keil except Russ Truelove [#226], by Michael DiPleco.  All Historic Festival 34 is presented by the Prestige Family of Fine Cars

Here are the Award Winners and a slide show of some of the participants…

Best of Show [Featured Image]
1959 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage #2452, Tony Wang, Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.
Though Wang has raced this Birdcage at the Lime Rock Historics previously – 2010 and 2012 – he’s not racing it this weekend, but did enter it into the Sunday in the Park Concours “Pick of the Paddock” class

People’s Choice
1912 Thomas Flyer 6-40, John F. & Carol A. Jones, Prospect, Conn.
This imposing machine wowed the spectators: It’s a 6-cylinder, 7-passenger Thomas that had previously won Most Outstanding Vintage Car 1912-1920 at Greenwich in 2008

Peter Brock Award
1968 Fiat 850 Spider, Jane & Jerome Roth, West Cornwall, Conn.
This was the car Honored Guest Peter Brock chose as the car he’d most like to own, telling the crowd he was so impressed with its lithe line when he first saw one in Europe years ago

John Morton Award
1938 Marchese Special Indy Roadster, Jerry Lettieri, Rocky Hill, Conn.
Honored Guest John Morton chose the Marchese as the car he would love to take home. Morton told the crowd he was stunned when he came across this Indy car on the concours line: it was the very car he saw win a race at Milwaukee when he was a boy

Wayne Carini Award
1935 Ford Deluxe 3-Window Coupe Hot Rod
Always a fan of the everyman’s car, Honored Collector Wayne Carini loved this extremely well-executed rod with its worked flathead V8

Skip’s Sunday Best
Like a kid in a candy store, Historic Festival 34 Patron and Lime Rock President Skip Barber awards “Skip’s Sunday Best” trophies to machines he would like in his garage…

1951 Jaguar Mark V Cabriolet, Chris Owen, Stockbridge, Mass.
1964 Porsche 356C, Andrew Benenson, Darien, Conn.
1967 Gurney Eagle 67 (AAR #42) Indy car, Rob Dyson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
1968 Corvette Sunray DX L88 race car, J.R. Amantea, Meriden, Conn.
1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 25000 Sport Touring Superleggera Berlinetta & 1931 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron Dual-Cowl Phaeton, Dragone Classic Motorcars, Bridgeport, Conn.

Inaugural Russ Truelove Award
Waterbury’s Russ Truelove, one of the first NASCAR drivers, has for years been bringing his crowd-pulling, crowd-pleasing authentic 1949 NASCAR Mercury Monterey stock car to Lime Rock Park. Going forward, the Russ Truelove Award will be presented at Sunday in the Park to those demonstrating exceptional dedication to the car-showing hobby. Russ is delivering the Monterey to Daytona this fall, and he’ll fly down rather than drive down when the Frances ring him up…

CLASS WINNERS

The Word’s First Wheels
1931 Buick 56C, Allan & Pat Kehrley, New York, N.Y.

Gatsby’s Delight
1930 Aston Martin International (Open Tourer), William King, Redding, Conn.

Off to Work
1967 Ford Fairlane 500XL Ranchero, Kevin Biebel, New Milford, Conn.

Risky ‘n’ Racy
1965 Shelby G.T. 350 “Snoopy” drag car,  Robert Walls, Rochdale, Mass.

Rallyist’s Revenge
1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, Hans Abrahams, Riverside, Conn.

Speed & Agility
1947 Cisitalia 202SC Vignale Spyder, Henry Miller, Greenwich, Conn.

Dashing Between the Drops
1957 BMW 507 Hardtop Convertible, Jeffrey McAllister, Ridgefield, Conn.

This Weekend’s Racers are Rewarded
1954 Lancia D50, Peter Giddings, Danville, Calif.

Shiny Side Up
1965 Alfa Romeo Gran Sport Quattroruote Zagato, Joe Nastasi, Long Island City, N.Y.      

For the Fun of the Drive
1969 Porsche 912 Targa, Jim & Wendy Petty, Weston, Conn.

Carry Your Weight
1967 Ford Ranchero (390 V8 w/4-speed), William Kokko, Milford, Conn.

Speed, Sport & Spirit
1984 Chevrolet Corvette targa, David Dennis, Thomaston, Conn.

Just a Little Faster
1966 Triumph TR4-A, Steve Francis, New Milford, Conn.

The Historic Trans-Am Race Group
1968 Mark Donohue Sunoco Camaro, Tom McIntyre, Burbank, Calif.

The Tin-Top Race Group
1973 Ford Escort, Ross Bremer, Jacksonville, Fla.

Style, Comfort, Pace
1954 Lancia Aurelia B20S, Chris Robins, Rye Brook, N.Y.     

A Businessman’s Express
1967 Porsche 912, Pam & Peter Antosiewicz, New Milford, Conn.  

Speed Breeds Success
1974 “Lincoln-Mercury” DeTomas Pantera, Robert DuQuette, East Hampton, Conn.

Outrunning the Wind
1963 Aston Martin DB4 Convertible, Tom Fuller, Lakewood, Ohio  

The Weird and/or Exceptional
1996 Porsche 996 GT3, Steven Harris, New York, N.Y.         

Weather-Permitting Performance
1941 Packard Model 110 Robert Neubert, Amston, Conn.

Comfort, Class and Wind in the Hair
1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible, Jack Haverty, Pleasant Valley, N.Y. 

Life at the Top in Comfort & Style
1949 Cadillac Sedanette, Andrew Benenson, Darien, Conn.            

Just as We Found It
1910 Rover 8 h.p., Dirk Burrowes, Ashburnham, Mass.       

A Fresh Approach
1961 Jaguar Mark II (resto-mod), Scott Lyman, New Canaan, Conn.           

Hot Rod
1957 Chevrolet Corvette Hardtop Convertible, Howard Block, Plymouth, Conn.    

Up on Two Wheels
1967 BMW R27, Rick Bell, Salisbury, Conn.  

Domestic Dynamite
1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z28/RS, Tom Petrasek, Huntington, N.Y.   

Pick of the Paddock
1954 Lancia D50 Recreation, Miles Collier, The Revs Institute, Naples, Fla.

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Helderberg Jaunt

If you’re looking to get out in your car on a nice day and don’t have a lot of time, here’s a relatively short drive into the Helderbergs.  It starts in Albany across from Stuyvesant Plaza can end either in Schenectady or back where you started.  The drive travels some pleasant roads through Voorheesville, New Salem and New Scotland and then heads into the hills, bringing you near the entrance to Thatcher Park.  Beaver Dam Road, Route 256 and Old Stage Road offer some particularly interesting driving.  If you’re not in a hurry, Voorheesville offers places to grab a bite to eat including Smith’s Tavern; or take 157 into Thatcher Park for a picnic or a stop at the overlook.  Your might check out the Mio Vino Wine Bar and Bistro in Altamont if you’re looking for a place to have dinner.  The restaurant gets some good reviews.

Here’s a printable version of the drive: Helderberg Route

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Great Driving: It’s All About Being Smooth

A number of readers have requested articles on improving driving skills.  Well, we aim to please.  Here’s a look at what separates a good driver from a great driver written by Chief Driving Instructor Van Svenson for the fall 2009 edition of the Air Cooled Advertiser.

What separates good drivers from great drivers? The answer is: smoothness. Perhaps you’ve heard this from an instructor, perhaps from a race commentator on TV or perhaps from a buddy in the pits. It’s true – speed comes with the ability to drive smoothly. What exactly is “smooth driving”? Before tossing out a definition, let’s first review some basic race car physics.

The car has four tires. As each tire touches the pavement, it deforms a little bit, making a “contact patch”. The “traction” a car can make, or, more specifically, the friction generated between the rubber and the road, is dependent on how large the contact patch is and how much force is pushing down on that contact patch. Wider tires yield a larger contact

patch and therefore have the capability to produce more traction. Fine tuning the car’s alignment and suspension can also help define the size of the contact patch, yielding more traction. However, we’ll make those topics a discussion for another issue. Putting a wing on the car, to generate aerodynamic down force, will push the tires against the road more, generating more traction. However that’s impractical for most cars, except the most dedicated race cars (and it won’t make you a better driver). So, the key here is: what can you do as a driver to change or manipulate the forces pushing down (or pulling up) on tires.

As a car changes from accelerating to braking to turning left to accelerating again, and so-on, it goes through a series of transitions that change how much weight is pushing down at each tire. To answer the original question, “what is smooth driving?” I am ready to tell you the answer. Smooth driving is controlling weight transfer in transitions to maximize traction of the tires.

How this works is probably best illustrated through examples. Let’s start with a turn at the end of a straight – accelerating down the straight will transfer weight towards the rear of the car. The car will literally “rock” backwards (kind of like going up a hill) which will make the rear wheels feel more weight and the front feel less weight. If the car weighs 3,000 lbs, and it has a 50/50% weight distribution, there will be 1,500 lbs on each axle.

Accelerating aggressively can transfer several hundred pounds –  yielding 1,300 lbs on the front wheels and 1,700 lbs on the rear wheels. Taking one’s foot off of the gas pedal and coasting will transfer weight back to the front. Applying the brakes will transfer more weight to the front. Again, we’re accelerating down the straight, transferring weight to the rear of the car. Now we brake and transfer weight to the front of the car – while we’re braking we start turning a little bit. If we haven’t reached the absolute traction capacity of the tires with our braking, we’ll have some traction available for turning. As we turn, weight is going to transfer to one side of the car.

Let’s say we’re turning right. If we’re braking and turning, our left front wheel is going to have the brunt of the car’s weight on it. This will also give this tire the most traction, but two things might happen. We might exceed the traction available to us and that wheel will start sliding towards the outside of the turn, or the left rear wheel, which doesn’t have much weight on it, but which has to help support the car against the sideways push caused by centripetal force, might start to slide because it does not have enough traction.

Quick action by the driver to get back on the gas might cause the opposite scenario. The weight transfers back, and the front tires no longer have enough traction to keep the car turning – the car starts to go straight. The idea of smooth driving is to transfer weight and load tires progressively. I once had an instructor tell me: if someone comes up to you and quickly shoves you, you might fall over; but, if that person starts to gradually push against you, you’ll start pushing back– pushing progressively harder.

Cars have mass and it takes time for that mass to move, so there’s a little delay between when you ask the car to do something and when it does it. Braking is more effective when it’s done progressively so the pressure on the brake pedal increases as the weight transfer to the front of the car increases. The increased weight on the front allows the tires to provide more traction, thus providing more braking force. Easing up on the brakes as you start to turn the car will give the front wheels added traction to initiate the turn, but weight has to transfer rearwards so both outside tires can provide maximum cornering force.

If you’ve selected a good line (remember how important it is to drive the right racing line?) you’ll be able to progressively apply the throttle mid-way through the turn which will transfer weight away from the front wheels and reduce their steering ability. If the line is chosen well, the car can gradually transition out of the turn to the next straight at maximum acceleration.

Driving smoothly, meaning, with a focus on transitions that do not upset the balance of the car and giving care to ensure weight transfer maximizes the traction of each contact patch will increase your enjoyment, reduce the stresses on your tires and car, and ultimately make your lap times lower. I’ll meet you at the apex!

 

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Macan Turbo with Performance Package Tops the Model Line

 More power, bigger brakes and sportier suspension calibration

Press Release from Porsche Cars North America:

Atlanta, Georgia. 

As the sports car of the compact SUV segment, the Macan has been setting standards in terms of driving dynamics since it made its debut. Now, Porsche is upping the ante: equipped with the Performance Package, the Macan Turbo now sits at the top of the model line, highlighting increased power and agility, with an exclusive interior package.

The newly calibrated twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers 440 hp. With 40 more horsepower than the Macan Turbo, the Performance Package offers a corresponding performance improvement of 0 to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds (a reduction of 0.2 seconds), and a new top track speed of 169 mph (an increase of 5 mph). The maximum torque has also risen to 442 lb.-ft. (an increase of 36 lb.-ft.) and is available to the driver across a broad rev range from 1500 to 4500 rpm.

However, it is not just engine power that is given a boost in the Performance Package equipped Macan Turbo – a newly developed brake system, a lowered sport chassis, the Sport Chrono Package, and a sport exhaust system are all fitted as standard. The front axle features grooved brake discs with a diameter of 390 millimeters – 30 millimeters larger than the discs fitted on the standard Macan Turbo – and are gripped by six-piston brake calipers painted red. Additionally, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with air suspension is available at the push of a button to deliver an exceptionally sporty feel on the road. This system has also been optimally tuned to the the vehicle, which has been lowered by 10 millimeters. Air suspension also features a self-leveling function and height adjustability.

With the Sport Chrono Package, drivers can ramp up the performance of the Macan Turbo even further. In Sport Plus mode, this package ensures the chassis, engine, and transmission are tuned to the most dynamic level – accompanied by an even more emotional sound from the sport exhaust system. The seven-speed PDK double-clutch transmission delivers even shorter response times, with optimum gear change points, and increased torque during gear changes for maximum acceleration.

To customize the Macan Turbo with Performance Package, a range of tailored equipment options are available, such as the Turbo Exterior Package. Options available with this package include 21-inch 911 Turbo design wheels with spokes painted in high-gloss black, LED headlights equipped with Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) Plus, and numerous other black elements. The Turbo Interior Package delivers a black leather interior with Alcantara® elements, color appliqué in numerous areas and carbon elements such as the door entry guards with the model logo lit up in white.

The Macan Turbo with Performance Package is available to order now and starts at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $86,445, excluding title, tax, registration, dealer charges, and delivery, preparation, and handling fee.

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AC Returns to McCarty Ave.

It’s been a busy time for autocross.  A week after the Zone 1 competition in Ayers, MA,  activity shifted to the McCarty Ave. lot for the third event in this year’s HCP autocross series.  Thanks to autocross chair Matt Rutten for the photos and results.  Matt maintains autocross is the most fun you’ll have in a parking lot with your clothes on.  The HCP series wraps up on Saturday, October 8th at the McCarty lot.  If you’ve thought about trying autocross, come to the last session and see what Matt means.  Cost for the event- a reasonable $30.

August 2016 AC Results

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Great Day for HCP Team at Zone 1 Autocross

Could it have been the new team t-shirts?  Most likely, it was the skill of the drivers that lead the HCP  autocross team to finish an impressive fourth out of eleven teams in the recent Zone 1 competition held the Ft. Devens airfield in Ayers, MA.  Thanks to Matt Rutten, here’s a look at some of the competitors and a run around the course.

The first results posted on the Zone 1 site:  Zone 1 Results

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What a Drive!

A drive of not much more than five minutes.  It will cost you fifteen bucks, twenty if you have a passenger. Is the 5.2 mile trip to the top of Mt. Equinox on Skyline Drive, the longest private paved toll road in the country, worth it?  Every penny.

IMG_1020Starting at the Toll House on Route 7A in Sunderland, Vermont, Skyline Drive ascends 3248’ through a series forty-one turns, twenty of them sharp switchbacks. Each year the drive, described as  some of the trickiest miles in any form of racing, lures sports car enthusiasts from across the country to the annual Mt. Equinox Hill Climb- a time trial to the top of the mountain.  Originally a Sports Car Club of America event, the race is now sponsored by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America.  Joel Finn driving a Cooper Formula 1 owns the race record, reaching the summit in 4:28, an average speed of over 60mph.

My wife Judith and I recently joined Paul Budlong and his wife Patty for a trip up the mountain.  It was the most intense drive I’ve ever done [Jude closed her eyes a couple of times].  Straight sections of road and long sweeping turns are punctuated by extremely sharp switchbacks with steep grades that demand first gear.  The drive asks for everything your car has to offer.

IMG_1021The road winds through a deciduous forest, occasionally breaking into the open, rewarding the driver with spectacular views.  The mountain’s 3,848’ summit is the highest point in the Taconic IMG_1023range and there’s a ten degree temperature differential between the base and the summit. Winds of 121 mph have been clocked on the peak.   The view from the top and the St. Bruno Viewing Center is a breathtaking panorama. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Montreal’s Mount Royal.

A few things to keep in mind: The drive is a popular attraction- there is traffic on the road [On the way up, a Ferrari passed us coming down. What that car was doing there I have no idea].  Although a number of cars were parked on the summit, we were fortunate to have the road to ourselves on our ascent. Generally the road is in good condition.  A few washboard sections caused by frost heaves and some patched potholes don’t diminish the driving experience. The posted speed limit is 20 mph.

IMG_5129From the mountain it’s a short drive into Manchester Center where you’ll find good places to eat and a variety of shops, including a number of factory outlet stores and the Northshire bookstore.  Also, check out Orvis and the store’s trout pond.  This side of Alaska, the pond has some of the largest trout you’ll ever see.  If Herman Melville had visited the pond, he might have written something other than Moby Dick.

Here are a couple of links if you’re interested in the drive.

The website for the attraction:  http://www.equinoxmountain.com/index.php

 

 

 

A video taken by a motorcyclist ascending the mountain.  It doesn’t really capture the intensity of the drive with its demanding turns but you can get some idea of the entertainment the drive provides:

 

 

 

 

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Refinement- At What Price?

Every now and then Allen Schwartz and I do our own Drive and Dines.  We agree on an interesting route, pick a spot for lunch and head out on the road.  The gods willing, our tops come down.  Allen drives a 2005 Boxster.  I drive a 2013 Boxster S.  On a recent outing, curious about my car, Allen asked if we could swap vehicles for a bit.  It was an interesting and eye-opening experiment. But first a little history.

It was the summer of 1989.  My wife and I were in the queue waiting to drive our car onto the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.  It was then I saw my first Mazda Miata. It was in line ahead of us. It was stunning. By October, a Miata was sitting in our driveway.  For twenty-five years that car provided an incredible amount of fun behind the wheel.  Many times drivers of cars with great handling say, “it’s like driving a go-cart.”  The Miata was a go-cart.  Of all the cars I’ve ever driven, only the 2005 Boxster S that replaced it in the fall of 2014 could surpass it.  The Boxster, our first Porsche, was a Miata on steroids- precise handling, amazing balance, and considerably more power than the 115 hp cranked out by the 1.6 liter Miata engine.  The Boxster did have its shortcomings though- particularly, seats that were unkind to sensitive backs on long drives. In March of 2016, with comfort in mind, our Boxster became part of a trade for a 2013 Boxster S.

HCP members know their cars, so it’s probably old news that the 2013 Boxster [a 981 in the somewhat arcane  language of Porschespeak] marked the last major remake of the flat-six powered car before it was replaced by the current four cylinder, turbo-charged 718.  Compared to 2009’s redesign of the car [the 987-2], the 981 offered significant changes.  While its wheelbase was a bit longer, Porsche engineers managed to decrease its weight by seventy-seven pounds and increase torsional stiffness by 40%.  The suspension was reworked, 19” wheels became standard and the front brakes were beefed up. Hydraulic steering gave way to electrical assist.

The effects of the redesign are clear in the car’s performance stats; compared to a 2009, an eight foot shorter stopping distance from 70, .5 more g’s on the skidpad, and two-tenths of a second faster to sixty.  Against our 2005 S, the differences are more dramatic- 35 more horsepower, 25 more lb./ft. of torque and .4 seconds quicker to 60.  According to Porsche, our 2013 S accelerates to 60 over a second faster than Allen’s 2005.

So Allen and I traded cars.  The experience defied the numbers. Allen’s car felt more responsive and incredibly quick.  I was back in a go-cart.  Sure, the ride was a bit harsher but the road feel was greater.  With its hydraulic steering, Allen’s car seemed to respond instantly to driver input.  Was I imagining things or was I actually having more fun driving his car? Why was I thinking about the S we traded in?

It’s a funny thing about our 981.  Put it on a track against a 2005 and it’s no contest.  Yet the refinement of our car almost hides it’s superior performance.  You have to pay close attention to appreciate what the car is doing- and it is doing great things.  But, the immediate, visceral feeling of the 2005 is gone.  The 911 turbo that was offered for test drives at the Gideon this summer stuck me the same way.  It was a world class sports car and, at the same time, a luxury car with technology to control the car’s aggressive instincts.  Hit the turbo boost button and there was no denying what the car could do.  Yet in a way, the car’s Dr. Jekyll somewhat isolated you from its Mr. Hyde.

Make no mistake, it’s a pleasure driving our Boxster.  It’s a refined and extremely comfortable car.  The seats are kind to sensitive backs and the suspension makes rough roads a bit more tolerable- important for driving in Schenectady.  The performance is certainly there.  But sometimes, every once-in-a -while, I miss driving by the seat of my pants.

 

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The Quail

Courtesy of CNN, here’s a Monday morning fix for those in need of viewing some beautiful automobiles.  The cars are displayed at the Quail, a function that’s part of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  This year the Quail attracted 5000 high-profile guests who sipped champagne and ate caviar while viewing 250 extraordinary cars.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/autos/pebble-beach-2016-the-quail/index.html

 

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Fall Get-Away Announced: 1000 Islands Weekend

This year for our Fall Getaway we are going to the 1000 Islands!  The trip will begin on Friday afternoon, October 28th with a pleasant drive to Clayton, NY where we will check in to the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.  (http://www.1000islandsharborhotel.com)  Our dinner that evening is included as is our breakfast on Saturday morning.  After Saturday breakfast we will make the short drive to Alexandria Bay for some free time to walk around and grab lunch before boarding a boat at 12:30 for the 2 Nation Tour. (http://usboattours.com/1000islands/?page_id=8)  This 2 ½ hour tour will take us on a 22 mile trip through US and Canadian waters with a guide to provide a narrative of the sights and sites of the St. Lawrence River.  On the way back, the boat will stop at the Boldt Castle for an optional tour.  Saturday evening we will join together for an ala carte dinner at a local Clayton restaurant.  Sunday morning will begin with breakfast (included) and an optional tour of the Antique Boat Museum, (http://www.abm.org), after which we will depart back to the Albany area.

The Fall Getaway Package includes two nights’ hotel accommodations in either a two queen or single king room, dinner on Friday night and breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  The package price is $407 single or $484 double occupancy and can be booked directly with the Harbor Hotel by phone at:  (315) 686-1100.  Tell them you are with the Hudson Champlain Region, Porsche Club of America group.  The boat tour is $21 per person and you will pay for that separately as we have received a group rate discount.

I have reserved 20 rooms for this trip and I expect them to sell out, so don’t wait until the last minute to make your reservations.  This hotel is really a first class operation and is the sister hotel of the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen where many of us stay when we go to the track.

If you have any questions about this, or any thing else, please don’t hesitate to email or call.

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September Drive and Dine: Lime Rock Historic Festival 34

Join us on September’s Drive to Lime Rock Park for Sunday in the Park and Historic Festival 34; then finish the day with a optional meal at the Black Rabbit Bar and Grille.  Day starts at 7:45 am, ends at 4:30… or later if you join us for dinner.

This event will start at (Exit 12 of I-90) Park and Ride on Route 9 south at 7:45AM leaving at 8:00AM.  We will head south to Lime Rock Park for Sunday in the Park Concours and Gathering of the Marques.  (A special Porsche area will be reserved.)  This is a spectacular show as there will be over 1000, yes I said, 1000 cars on the track for display. (http://limerockhistorics.com/).

Wayne Carini will be the Honored Collector for Historic Festival 34 Presented by the Prestige Family of Fine Cars,He is the charismatic host of one of the most popular cable TV shows in America, the HD-only “Chasing Classic Cars” on Discovery Channel-owned Velocity.

Wayne Carini is not only a widely recognized TV personality, but a highly regarded restorer; a pre-eminent Ferrari expert; a much sought-after concours judge; and owner of F40 Motorsports (buys and sells vintage and classic automobiles), Continental Auto, Ltd. (high-end and exotic automobile repair and bodywork), and Carini Carozzeria (restoration shop where Wayne spends much of his time). Carini Consulting advises and manages collections for clients around the world.

Wayne’s personal car collection has never been seen publicly, but he enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to bring a half-dozen of his favorite cars, a half-dozen motorcycles, and a very special “hauler-and-racecar” combo to Lime Rock Park for the Festival when he accepted Sunday in the Park Concours organizer Kent Bain’s offer to be the Honored Collector.

For Historic Festival 34, the Honored Guests are none other than John Morton and Pete Brock.  Among Brock’s numerous accomplishments is, of course, his designing the Daytona Cobra Coupe and founding his wildly successful Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE)… for which Morton was asked to drive and together, they won prodigiously between 1969 and 1972 in BRE Datsuns in C-Production and 2.5-liter Trans-Am. Morton will race a BRE Datsun 240Z over the weekend, too.
Click here for Historic Festival 34 Presented by the Prestige Family of Fine Cars ticket information.

Youths 16 and under admitted free (General Admission) with at least one accompanying adult.

Advance Price: Ends Friday August 26, 2016
Sunday In The Park $30.00

Gate Prices: Begins August 27, 2016

Sunday In The Park $45.00

After the show, by popular demand, we are heading to the Black Rabbit Bar & Grille for dinner. We had a great experience there after the Porscheplatz last month. (http://www.blackrabbitbarandgrille.com/ )

Please email me at Louis.dahoda@edwardjones.com if you are interested in having dinner with us after the show. I need an accurate headcount by August 31.

 

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Polo: August’s Drive and Dine [Without the Drive!]

August Drive & Dine – Sunday August 14, 2016, 5:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. 

Welcome to SARATOGA POLO!  Barrantes Cup Tournament Finals this SUNDAY AT 5:30PM August 14, 2016 

This event will be held at Saratoga Polo Field at the Whitney Field, 2 Bloomfield Road, Greenfield Center, NY.  We have secured a parking corral and sitting area on the club house side. This event will be different in that we will meet at the Polo Field http://www.saratoga.com/event/saratoga-polo-87757/ (NO DRIVE)!  Saratoga Polo offers a wide array of food, so come hungry.   

 

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Glenville Hills – Charlton Drive

Following up on Paul Budlong’s Adirondack Drive [March 2016], here’s another drive that should appeal to members looking for some interesting roads.  It runs up and down the ridgeline that stretches along the Mohawk River from Schenectady to Amsterdam and ventures into the historic village of Charlton and some rural roads of southern Saratoga and eastern Montgomery counties.  The route features challenging driving [Johnson and Waters are serpentine with significant elevation changes] and a variety of places to explore. The drive begins off Route 5.  The starting point can be easily reached by taking  890 west from Schenectady or by taking the Thruway to exit  26 and following the signs to Route 5.

If you haven’t already, give Paul’s Adirondack route a go- and please, if you have a favorite drive, submit it to the blog.

Points of interest on the Glenville Hills-Charlton Drive include:

Nightengale’s Sugar Farm [Jersey Hill Rd.]- Purchase maple syrup and a variety of confections.  Nightengale’s is open year round; their website advises calling ahead just to make sure someone is in the store.  The farm offers tours during the spring tapping season. http://www.nightingalesmaplefarm.com/

Top Notch Tavern  [Rte. 45, Hagaman] The tavern has a reputation for its prime rib and its burger night.  It doesn’t open until 5pm on weekdays so a stop there for dinner might mean doing the remainder of the drive as it gets dark.  Not recommended for Waters Road.  However, the tavern does open at 4pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday. http://www.topnotchtavern.com/

The Charlton Tavern [Charlton Rd.]-  Located in the historic and picturesque village of Charlton, the tavern is a great place to have lunch during the drive.  The tavern also serves dinner.  You’ll find it closed on Mondays. http://www.charltontavern.com/

The Green Corners One Room School House [Potter Rd./Green Corners Rd.]- A representative example of early nineteenth century one-room schoolhouse architecture in the town of Glenville. The school was constructed around 1825 and functioned as a public school for grades one through eight until it closed in 1946. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/14000226.htm

If you’re interested in visiting the school, contact the Glenville town historian for information on visiting days and hours. http://www.townofglenville.org/Public_Documents/GlenvilleNY_Historian/index

Wolf Hollow Brewing [Rte. 5]  A microbrewery with a rapidly growing following. It’s open Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm-10pm and Saturday from 12pm – 10pm.  Tours are offered Saturday at 2:30. The brewery features food from Buzzard’s Bay Barbeque. http://www.wolfhollowbrewing.com/

I’ve included several versions of this drive in PDF format so you can print them and take them along for reference.  Each version features different combinations of points of interest.  Choose the one that includes the things you’d most like to see or do.  The roads are still fun and the drives are pleasant even if you don’t stop anywhere. The short route is a little over 30 miles and includes only a stop at the Charlton Tavern.  The longer routes are approximately 60 miles.

If you do any of these drives, comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

 

Short Drive- Charlton Tavern

Long Route Includes Top Notch With Short Detour to Nightengale’s,Brewery

Long Route with Charlton Tavern,Nightengale’s,Brewery

Long Route- Includes Nightengale’s, Charlton Tavern, Schoolhouse, Brewery

 

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Corvette Karma

Jeffrey A. Meyers treats us to a day at the Monticello Motor Club…

 

Flashback: twenty-seven years ago, my nineteen year old eyes welled with tears of joy as I tore open the envelope from the Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park.  I poured over the one page letter that read something like this:

 

You are to report to Lime Rock Park on Saturday, September 28, 1987 for a full day course including instruction on the race track.  You should arrive at 8:00 am for a briefing.  Please bring this letter with you as proof of payment in full . . .

 

I stared at the letter in disbelief and asked myself “How did this happen?”  My mind raced as I searched for answers.  My parents!!  Of course!  My incessant whining about going to a driving school finally paid off.  I ran upstairs to thank them . . . but they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.  The wheels in my head spun as I tried to figure who my racing benefactor had been.  I struggled with names, none of which I believed actually could afford the cost of this class.  The weight of this puzzle began to feel heavy.

 

Now this was the moment, with 20/20 hindsight, that I should have just taken the letter with me the day of the class and fulfilled my fantasy.  Alas, I didn’t.  I was afraid of traveling the 2 ½ hours to the track only to be turned away.  So, I called.  My fear was realized when the woman on the phone revealed that all of this was a mistake.  I was on their mailing list, it seemed, and they pulled the wrong name.  No apology, no offer of condolences, or, gasp, a free course anyway.  Nothing.

 

I could still feel that Skip Barber letter in my hands 27 years later when I received another letter just a few weeks ago, this time from Chevrolet. It was an invitation to attend the Stingray Precision Drive event at the Monticello Motor Club.  On the track.  With instruction.  With food.  For free.  It seems that karma has come back around, Corvette Karma.

 

Ninety seconds later, I was signed up online.  It all seemed too good to be true, but confirmation emails and reminder emails gave me a pinch and assured me I was not dreaming.  My friends were like “What the F%$#!??  I just grinned ear to ear. “Karma, my friends, karma.”  How did I get so lucky?  I am still not sure.  In today’s tech world, the electronic universe probably tracked the fact that I have a 2000 Porsche Boxster.  Perhaps unbeknownst to the electronic Gods I purchased that car used in 2008, the only way I could afford it was after the original owner ate more than 50% in depreciation.  Could it be that the marketing gurus tracked that I have a law degree?  If so, they likely missed that I am a New York State employee not earning the big bucks of New York City lawyers.  I prefer to believe it was just that tidal wave of karma that couldn’t be held back.  It really doesn’t matter.  I was so happy I could pee myself.

 

Speaking of which, at the gate at Monticello, I am now holding in my power drink and green tea after my two hour drive.  I am waiting amongst Ferraris, Bentleys, BMWs, Jaguars, other Porsches, and of course, some Corvettes to get inside for our afternoon session.  I could hear the roar of the 2014 Stingray’s enormous 6.3 liter 460 hp V8 going around the track at the end of the morning session.  It is a perfect day.  Sounds trite, but really, it is perfect.  Blue sky, 65 degrees, fall colors on the trees, drying leaves rustling.  Top down, the sun warms my head.  One of those days that reminds you the northeast is a great place to live.

 

Just as I start scanning for a discreet shrub, we roll.  We funnel down into a single line, jostling for position as Type As are wont to do.  The anticipation is palpable.  We all just can’t wait.  The Corvette crew awaits us with smiles as we register and work our way into the lounge area for introductions and food.  We are given white, red, or black rubbery wrist bands and separated by color.  We learn about the new Corvette in a briefing and are told about the three “modules” that will make up our day.  Some classroom, some driving, rinse, and repeat.  Snacks in between.  Sweet.

 

My module starts with the “Precision” course, a short clockwise loop with several right hand turns of varying complexity and a few nice straight portions.  We are encouraged to pick third gear for the manuals, which I greedily requested because I consider myself a “true” enthusiast, even though the fastest cars on earth these days are sophisticated automatics.  Our leader suggests we stay in third saying the big V8 has enough grunt to pull out of the turns.  We can downshift into second if we want, but no need.

 

We do an orientation lap first, with the lead Chevrolet driver talking to us through his headset and broadcast on our stereo systems.  He tells us where to look, where the turn-in points are, where to brake.  Then he amps it up for the second lap.  The car is firmly planted, the tires feel like velcro against the pavement.  Turn-in is crisp and precise.  As I downshift (I know, I don’t have to, but I can’t resist), I don’t have to “heel and toe” to match the engine revs as the car does this automatically.  When I grab second – the exhaust growls like the car is pissed.  I am giggling like a school girl.

 

I am third in line, in front of me is Yuki, a fellow I chatted up while waiting in line.  Nice guy, but Yuki is a bit overwhelmed by the track.  I can completely understand this – on a track you get to use the entire width of the pavement, there is no center line to guide you; it’s visually intimidating.  Nevertheless, I am respectfully glued a car length back from Yuki’s rear bumper as the lead driver eggs Yuki on to close the gap that is enlarging between them.  “Come on car two, close up the space!”  I am still giggling, tossing the Stingray into the turns with wild abandon, egging it on to slide . . . or push . . . or something.  It won’t – and it is not because I am such a wonderful driver.  This is a hero car; it turns mere mortals into racer wannabes who can really race.  I start wondering how I can get me one of these and do track days with it on the weekends.  I start calculating payments, the costs of tires, brakes, track memberships.  The g-forces in the turns and the way the Vette slams me back into the seat is like crystal meth – addictive at its very core, making its user do anything possible to feel that rush again and again.  Lap three, lap four, MORE. . . but then the session is over.  Thankfully we have two hits of meth “modules” left.  I check my teeth in the mirror to see if they have gone dark and crackly.

 

Then we are shuttled back to the home base and half of us pile into waiting Chevy Suburbans so we can go to the second module, the “Track” portion.  I feel like a snitch for the DEA, going to meet my handler as I duck into the third row of the big black ‘Burban, the tinted windows ensuring the street punks and dealers don’t know I am out to get them.  Monticello is a configurable track, something the Chevrolet crew worked artfully to ensure that we had minimal downtime between sessions.  It is big enough to contain the 2.5 mile loop for the Track Module while running the Precision and Skills modules simultaneously for other attendees.

 

Half of our crew heads on track, while my group heads into the waiting trailer to meet with Adam Andretti for some coaching.  Yes, that Andretti family.  Adam enthusiastically talks about increasing radius turns, decreasing radius turns, the best way to brake (in a straight line prior to turn-in), the power of being smooth, setting up the suspension by deft inputs to throttle and steering.  He further enlightens us with the engineering achievements of the new Corvette including the massive Brembo brakes that he points out are 13” in diameter, the same diameter of many economy car wheels only 25 years ago.  “Have confidence in the brakes, run these cars – abuse them – that’s why we are here!! Use our gas, tires and brake pads while you can!”  My hands started to shake toward the end of the classroom session; I needed another bump.

 

I beg the organizers to be placed behind the lead driver, this time the 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Pancho Carter in a silver Camaro SS.  I am in a manual Stingray again, purely by luck due to it’s placement behind Pancho – I am not complaining.  Pancho guides us around an orientation lap as we had done before, but this orientation lap disorients me with g-forces.  Pancho is running 2/10ths, I’m running 6.  This is going to be interesting.  Poor Yuki is with us too – this time in the fourth/last position.  Lap 2, I am starting to hoot inside my helmet with glee as I struggle to keep Panchos 5/10ths pace – I’m at 9.  “Car four, come on and keep up!” I hear Pancho bark over the audio system.  I see Yuki pull into pit lane at the end of lap two and start to worry – not so much for Yuki, I must humbly admit, but for myself.  Pancho dials it up to 6/10ths . . . I am at 11.

 

The big Vette refuses to become unwound even under my unartful turn-ins, ham footed throttle and brake inputs – I’m “braking bad” here – seriously.  Aware there is a heads-up display within my line of sight, I still see right through it other than the tach as Pancho pulls away on the straight.  I refuse to let Pancho bark at me.  I try to look far ahead for the entrance cone and apex markers.  The blood inside my head is pushed to the right, then left, then right again through the corkscrew portion.  I run over the striped curbing waiting for traction to let go.  The sticky Michelin Pilot Supersport ZPs, made specifically for this car, refuse to give.  On one lap I am so determined to stick with Pancho, I forget to downshift through that corkscrew – I lumber through it in fourth – the motor doesn’t care, but I do and grab third after the last transition and am thrust back into the newly designed seats.  From what I have read, these are vastly improved over the old – all I know is that I am planted in them while being coddled at the same time.  I like.  At one point, I am convinced my blunt force inputs are going to pitch me off the course and onto the grass – I brake lightly while the wheel is turned.  My stomach turns, but the car is un-phased – had this been my electronic nanny-free Porsche Boxster, assuming I could have accelerated that hard to get up that much speed, I am fairly sure I would have been spinning.

 

At the end of the session, I am chatting with the others as we wait and I am asked how fast I hit on the straight.  Pancho says he kept his Camaro in third which redlines at 110 mph on the straight.  I realize I never looked.  I was so focused on Pancho, the race line, the fact that I was off of the race line, shifting, forgetting to shift; bummer.  Good thing there were not only one but two in car cameras – one pointing at me, the other pointing through the windshield.  The video records images of me, my view of the track, and contains data including gear position, speed, engine speed, track position, and more.  I can’t wait to see it.  I can’t wait to share it. I can’t wait to see how fast I actually went down that straight – I know I was deep into the rev range of fourth gear at one point and redline in fourth is  a whopping 143 mph.  Hey – who knows, I may have even hit . . . 115!!

 

At the end of the session, we shuttle the Corvettes back to the club house.  I drive an automatic for the short jaunt.  It shifts beautifully – better than I do, of course.  At this point, we have some down time before the next session.  Conde Nast magazines partnered with Chevrolet for this event and I got to wander around and grab swag from Wired, Golf Digest, GQ, Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest.  Golf Digest has this really cool configurable putting green and free Adidas hats.  Wired has an awesome prototype of a virtual goggle that took us outside the 80th floor of the freedom tower.  Bon Appetit helped bring fantastic food (even for us vegetarians) and Nespresso coffee – yum.  I waddled back to my car with my arms full of magazines, hats, golf balls, and other goodies. Gotta get while the getting’s good!!

 

The author with 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Pancho Carter

The author with 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Pancho Carter

The third and final module is the “Skills” portion and contains a small loop with two cone weaves set up.  I anticipated that this would be a bit anti-climactic after the second session, but I was wrong.  We were instructed to start out in “Eco” mode which not only adjusts the engine management settings (allowing the car to obtain a stellar 29 mpg on the highway) but also the magnetic suspension settings.  After the briefing, I GP sprint to the car just behind the lead driver (I know, I am a pig).  We tool through the weave at a decent pace and I am greeted with a cushy ride, yet still capable of aggressive turns.  The second lap, we toggle the mode to “Touring” and repeat.  A bit firmer through the cone weaves, still nice power delivery and cornering prowess.  Lap three, we toggle to “Sport” and start to have real fun again.  The fourth and what was scheduled to be the final lap, we toggle to “Track” mode and hammer down.  I am grinning again, ear to ear, laughing maniacally in my Arai Edwards replica helmet.  We stop at the end of the fourth lap and I am ready for my experience to end . . . when I hear “Bonus Lap” over the car stereo.  Awesome!! We go again.  When we stop, I hear “Bonus Lap” again!  Oh, these guys are good!  Just a little taste, make sure they are addicted, then re-light the glass pipe.  I’m gonna need rehab and some serious dental work.

 

We tool into the parking area and head into the last classroom session and de-brief.  It’s been almost 5 hours since the Precision Drive experience began.  It seemed like 30 minutes.  I wish my work day would pass this fast, but I guess that’s why they call it work.  As a group, we give our hearty thanks to the Corvette crew and applaud loudly.  We were told that we were the first 300 consumers to drive the new Corvette Stingray – I feel like one of the elitist of the elite.  We have all had one hell of a fun day, one I will never forget.

 

When I was a teen, my best friend who is three years older bought a 1968 Corvette with a 327/350hp motor and lovingly restored it.  Perhaps as payment for my efforts assisting him, he let me drive it, often.  It was an animal, a brute, highly capable, visceral.  The next model year, the Stingray came out.  That name has been absent in the Corvette line since 1977.  It’s back, and in my opinion, this new car is worthy of that namesake.  The car is an animal, powerful, it is visceral, but it is at the same time luxurious in a way that the old cars just can’t muster.  I tip my hat to the Corvette crew and send my hearty thanks for being invited.  Now if I could just figure out how I can get karma to let me to do all of this again . . .

 

 

 

 

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Track Etiquette: Safe Passing

With the August 13th DE day at Lime Rock for novices in mind, here’s a look back at an article that appeared in the Summer 2009 edition of the Air Cooled Advertiser in which chief track instructor Van Svenson describes how to pass other cars safely on the track…

 

PCA drivers’ education has earned a reputation for being one of the safer venues for gaining on-track experience due, in part, to very clear rules about passing. There are strict guidelines that must be followed by both the overtaking (following) car and by the overtaken (leading) car. This way, “both” drivers know what is expected of them, and both drivers understand the steps needed to complete a safe pass.

One such example is knowing the locations of the “passing zones” – the straight sections where the pass will occur before entering the next corner. The crux of the passing scenario is the: passing signal. This is a physical gesture from the leading driver to the overtaking driver, and it accomplishes two goals. First, it tells the overtaking driver that the leading driver is aware of his or her presence and will play an active role in the pass (more about this part in a minute). Second, the signal is an indication of which side of the car the leading driver wishes the overtaking car to go.

A signal where the driver in front sticks his or her arm out of the window and points with a finger over the roof towards the right (passenger) side of the car is a gesture that means: Hello car behind me. I see you and would like you to overtake me on the passenger’s side of my car. I will adjust my speed accordingly so you can complete the pass and be in front of me for the next braking zone. Boy! That’s quite a mouthful for a movement that doesn’t take more than a second or two to complete! But, in actuality, hand signals are a very effective way to communicate with others in a loud environment where things happen quickly.

Let’s pause for a moment and revisit the last part of the hand signal translation – the “I will adjust my speed accordingly” bit. This is very important, and, along with giving the passing signal, it is the most important responsibility of the driver that’s being overtaken. Due to a variety of factors, ranging from car capabilities, tire selection, suspension setup, driver ability, and so on, the car that is overtaking might not have the horsepower to pass the front car without the front driver easing off the throttle a bit.

The majority of tracks we use for DEs have more turns than straights – a car that can go faster around the curves will have a lower lap time, and thus will need to pass at some time, another car that has higher straight line speed, but less cornering speed. Along with a clearly executed signal in the correct passing zone, the driver in the leading car also has to plan ahead to determine “which” side the overtaking car should pass on (a reminder: over the roof for a pass on the right, and straight out the window for a pass on the left). The car that is being passed should stay “on line” coming up to the next corner – and should allow the overtaking car to pass “off line”.

For example, if the passing zone ends with a right hand corner, the proper “turn in” point will be at the left edge of the track. This means the leading car should stay to the left – and the overtaking car should pass on the right. If the passing zone ends in a left hand turn, then the overtaking car should pass on the left to allow the first car to stay on line at the right edge of the track. Remembering and understanding these guidelines will maximize safety and give everyone the opportunity to have a great event.

I’ll meet you at the apex!

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John Pellerin Reflects on “A Day at the Races”

The next Club DE event is fast approaching.  As Lime Rock beckons, Club member John Pellerin offers his thoughts on the DE experience…

 

I’ve been a member of the Hudson Champlain Region PCA club since 2011 and did my first Driver’s Education (DE) event that year, but it was only sporadically that I did these events until 2015 when I really wanted to improve my driving skills and move up the run group ladder by committing to and, most importantly, enjoying more seat time.

IMG_0547As with a lot of young (and us middle-aged adult) kids who are high-performance car fanatics, I’ve also been interested in racing back to when I was a kid watching the legends of stock car racing like Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and Cale Yarborough.  Unfortunately, Porsche sports car racing was unknown to me back in the 70s when the 917s and early 911s were dominating LeMans, Daytona and Sebring.  Since being in the club, I had heard some things about PCA Club Racing and the Zone 1 “Clash at the (Watkins) Glen”, but wasn’t quite sure what it was all about.  By that time, I had gotten hooked on doing the Zone1 48 Hours at Watkins Glen DE events in 2015 and 2016; so, when Jim Morgan and Chris Klapper put out the call for volunteers to work at this year’s  Zone 1 Clash PCA club races in June, I was eager to sign up.IMG_0540

There are many ways to participate as a volunteer at these club races – helping with registration, tech inspection, garage administration, scoring and timing, etc – but what caught my interest was to work on “the grid”.  Basically, working the grid is getting all of the cars in a particular race classification organized and arranged in a staging area before they are let out onto the track for their pace lap and race event.    What I really enjoyed about this assignment was being able to get up close to a tremendous variety of Porsche race cars from 944s, spec BoxstIMG_0544ers, vintage 911s all the way up to the latest Cayman GT4 Clubsport and high-dollar 911 GT3 Cup cars and even a couple of GT3 RSR LeMans-class cars.   From the graphics on the cars to the open exhaust sounds to the smell of race gas, it was really a lot of fun to work on the grid.
In addition to the cars, you get to meet a lot of great people from the racers to fellow volunteers.  All were eager to engage in a chat, answer questions and share their stories.  Interestingly, some volunteers have never taken their Porsche to an autocross event or onto a track for a DE, but just liked being around the event and come back every year.  Regardless of the extravagance of the car or the thickness of the racers’ wallets, the level of competition was very high and exciting to watch.

So, if what you have read sounds interesting to you, I’d strongly encourage you to volunteer at one of the club races.  And if you’ve never taken your Porsche out onto the track, this may give you the itch to try a DE event which I wholeheartedly recommend!  The next DE event being put on by our own HCP group is on Sat, August 13 for novices.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Photos courtesy of John…

 

 

 

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Greetings from Cape Cod

Looking for new posts?  Your publisher is currently on vacation at the Cape. Check back soon for new material.  Having a good time even though we had to leave our Porsche home.

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July’s Monthly Meeting Offers Look at New 718

Porsche of Clifton Park was the venue for July’s monthly meeting- a chance for members to socialize, dine on fried chicken, catch up on Club news and get a look at Porsche’s new 718 Boxster.  The customary reports from the Club’s board painted a picture of a Club that remains in good financial health, continues to add new members and offer much to do.

With the addition of six new members, total membership now stands at 620.   Everyone should find something of interest in the broad range of activities scheduled for July and August. July 23rd offers Porsche Platz at Lime Rock. The event includes track side viewing of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship from a West Bend vantage point as well as live, exclusive, large screen TV coverage of the race. Much, much more awaits visitors including a chance for the first twenty-five cars that arrive for the day to drive the track on an exclusive Porsche parade lap. At month’s end,  activities chair Louis Dahoda will lead Club members on a tour of four Saratoga horse farms, each with a different theme.  In August, Polo beckons.  You’ll find details for these events on the blog.

August offers three driving events:  DE for novices at Lime Rock, the Zone 1 autocross competition in Devens, MA and a Club event at the McCarty lot.  If you’ve wondered what it’s like to drive your Porsche on a race track, the Lime Rock event is for you.  Instructors are ready.  Drivers are needed. It’s expensive for the club to stage a DE event. The greater the number of drivers, the greater the chance the Club will be able to continue offering track instruction to novices.  Check with track chair Chris de Graffenried [track@hcp-pca.com] for more information.  Our Club is also recruiting drivers for the Zone 1 event.  No experience is necessary.  If you’d like to be part of the autocross team that represents our region, contact autocross chair Matt Rutten [autocross@hcp-pca.com].  Team members get cool T-shirts.  HCP’s third autocross event of the season on August 28th brings the month to a close.

The exhaust snarl of a 2017 718 Boxster S sounded the key note during the evening’s tech talk that gave members a close-up look at the redesigned car.  Only the front and rear trunk lids have been carried over from the previous Boxster.  Everything else is new.  The back end, with new lights and repositioned Porsche logo, looks wider.  Strong horizontal lines and sharper front fender edges give the car an angular, athletic look.  At the heart of the redesign is the new 2.5 L, four cylinder, turbocharged Boxer engine.  The new four puts out 35 more horsepower and 43 more lb.-ft. of torque than the previous six cylinder S engine.  Porsche claims the car will hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds,  .4 seconds faster than the 981 S. Top speed is said to be 177 mph.  Another change: the Boxster is no longer the least expensive car in the Porsche line-up.  The Cayman now occupies that position.

Thanks to Christian and the crew at Porsche of Clifton Park  for hosting the meeting, diner, trivia prizes and a look at a beautiful new Porsche.

 

 

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Threat of Rain Doesn’t Deter Autocross Drivers

 

Despite heavy overcast and a significant threat of rain, 21 drivers came out to the McCarty Avenue parking lot for the second Hudson-Champlain auto-cross of 2016. Car models included 356, 944, 993, 996, 997, Caymans, Boxsters, and others (yes, we welcome all demonimations).  Matt Rutten and his crew of volunteers (Al Harper, John Pellerin, and Audrey Engelsberg) setup a 1/3 mile course to challenge the car control skills of our drivers.  Timm Baldauf provided safety support, completing tech inspection on all cars prior to the drivers meeting and Jeff Markussen provided timing and stats support for the day.

Run group one had a dry morning session. Run group two had to brave wet conditions when it started to rain about 1130. Fortunately the rain only lasted about 30 minutes and we had dry conditions for the remainder of the day. There were 3 instructors available (Andy Dorman, Aaron Ambrosino, and Al Harper) to work with drivers upon request, they were quite busy for most of the morning. All drivers successfully completed the course multiple times during the day, though there were many ‘incidents’ involving some poor innocent cones.  In the end, it was Jim Morgan (yes, El-presidente himself) who posted the fastest time for the day.

Thanks to all for your participation and help making this our July Autocross a success.

HCP Auto-Cross Results 7-9-2016

Photos and post by autocross chair Matt Rutten.

 

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PCA Judge Calls Blog “Fantastic”

The verdict is in- Open Roads caught the attention of judges in the year’s PCA Newsletter competition.  Our blog didn’t win an award- what we’re doing simply doesn’t fit the criteria by which other submissions were judged.  Open Roads, with it’s ability to handle media and to translate so well to mobile devices, is something other club’s  simply aren’t doing.  Because we were neither fish nor fowl in the competition, our overall score was low.  However, one of the judges was compelled to write, “I feel the need to add a comment about your blog and this score: I think your blog is FANTASTIC. It is difficult to judge in terms of this competition and the elements we are to judge on, and in it not being a cohesive website. Your blog is an amazing, interactive newsletter.  I’m very impressed.”  Nice to hear.

Let’s keep up the good work.  Our Club offers so much- autocross, drive and dines, DE, Weekend Getaways. The list goes on.   I’m thinking of the Amish community and the raising of a barn.  Everyone pitches in.  Please- consider pitching in by contributing to our blog in any way you can.  Take a cell phone photo to post.  Write a short piece about a Porsche experience you’ve had. Say something about your car. If you go to an event, become a reporter- send me a few notes and I’ll write a story. There’s so much going on and so many people to capture the action.  We are over 600 strong.  If we all pitch in and “raise” our blog, it will truly be fantastic. If you want to reach me regarding Open Roads, email me at newsletter@hcp-pca.com.  I’d love to hear from you.

A great thanks to those who have helped with Open Roads so far and a thanks to our president, Jim Morgan, for his efforts in submitting Open Roads for judging.

 

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Club Members Support Local Charities

HCP members opened their checkbooks and wallets, contributing $857  to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Northeast Regional Food Bank at our 2016 June picnic.  According to Sharifa Perry who coordinated the event, the charities will be able to use the all-cash donations to best meet their needs.  Donations were almost evenly split: Guiding Eyes received $435;  the Food Bank received $422.

The Board is currently looking for volunteers to plan, coordinate and run a silent auction at the Club’s annual dinner in November.  The auction has been the Club’s most significant charitable effort of the season; last year over $2000 was raised.  Sharifa has offered to support and advise members who take on the task.   If you’re interested in helping out, you can contact Sharifa for more information at charity@hcp-pca.com

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July Event Details Released: Race Cars and Race Horses

July Drive & Dine – Saturday July 23, 2016, 6:00A.M. – ?:?? P.M. 

Drive to Lime Rock Park  Porscheplatz hospitality tent to watch in comfort the 2016 IMSA Weather Tech Sportcar Championship Race,  then finishing the day with a optional meal at Black Rabbit Bar and Grille.

This event will start at Cracker Barrel of East Greenbush at 122 Troy Road (Exit 9 of I-90) ( http://locations.crackerbarrel.com/ny/east-greenbush/317/ ) at 6:00AM for a optional breakfast. We will leave this location at 7:00 AM sharp! (If you do not want breakfast)   We will head south to Lime Rock Park Porscheplatz hospitality tent which includes: Track side viewing at West Bend, Live exclusive large screen TV coverage, Complimentary cold beverage service, PCA membership station, Team presentations and meet n’ greets, Technical partner presentations, Chance to drive the track on an exclusive Porsche parade lap (for the first 25 cars to arrive per day), Raffle draws for giveaways, and a Exclusive Porsche Corral parking pass, all this for $20 (per car). (https://tickets.limerock.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=102 )  Does NOT include track admission.

After the race we will head for dinner at the Black Rabbit Bar & Grille. (http://www.blackrabbitbarandgrille.com/ )

Please email me at Louis.dahoda@edwardjones.com if you are interested in having dinner with us after the race. I need an accurate headcount by July 20th.   

Also, go online to purchase advanced ticket and your corral ticket at https://tickets.limerock.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=102.

 

July Drive & Dine – Saturday July 30, 2016, 10:00A.M. – 5:30 P.M.

Majestic Drive through Saratoga County to visit their local horse farms followed by a fine French meal at Chez Pierre Restaurant.

Starting at 10:00 AM with Cars & Coffee at New County Porsche (https://porscheofcliftonpark.com/) 205 NY-146, Halfmoon NY 12118. Leaving at 11:30 AM for a self guided Horse Farm Tour with in Saratoga County ( http://ccesaratoga.org/agriculture/cce-equine/horse-farm-tour ). This event is sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, then we will finish the day with a French meal at Chez Pierre Restaurant (http://www.chezpierrerestaurant.com/dinner-menu/) 979 Saratoga Rd, Gansevoort, NY 12831.

Please email me at Louis.dahoda@edwardjones.com if you are interested in having dinner with us after the tour. I need an accurate headcount by July 27th.

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Porsche. LeMans. Stuttgart

Heartbreak for Toyota.  Elation for Porsche.  The 86 running of the 24 Hours of LeMans was decided with just three minutes left in the race when the leader, the Toyota #5 car, died on the track l2when a connector between the car’s turbocharger and intercooler failed.  As the Toyota coasted to a stop, the Porsche #2 car, a 919 hybrid which had been in the thick of the action throughout the race, was able to erase the one minute gap the Toyota had built and win the race.  Great drama and where better to watch the dramatic conclusion that in Stuttgart, Germany.  Thanks to Bob Bailey who emailed these shots of events at Stuttgart along with video of the last lap of the race and reactions of the Porsche and Toyota teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

l3

l1

l4

 

https://youtu.be/dy1BtPEEjEQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Porsche Parade: First Look

Just in… A couple of photos from HCP President Jim Morgan who is spending time at the Parade.

911 R at the Parade

911 R at the Parade

Porsche Display at the Concours

Porsche Display at the Concours

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June’s Car and Coffee: Test Drive the New 911 Turbo

“It’s better in every way.”  That’s the assessment of the new 911 turbo from Jeff  Robillard, a man who knows his Porsches.  Jeff, who has been an instructor with Porsche’s U.S. Sports Driving Program since its inception, was in the Saratoga area with one of the new cars for a special four day Cars and Coffee event sponsored by Porsche of Clifton Park. The event offered a chance for Club members test drive the new 911 and confirm Jeff’s opinion.

 

The roads around Lake George were the setting for the first  day of drives on Thursday, 6/17. For the next three days the event moved to Saratoga, departing from the Auto Museum on Saturday.  By the end of the weekend over fifty drivers had experienced the new car’s increased horsepower and torque and had been pressed back in the seat after hitting the car’s turbo boost button and stepping on the accelerator. The option provides twenty seconds of extra boost that can propel the Turbo S model to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.  With boost, the base model Jeff brought hit sixty in  a tick over four seconds.  Even with the relatively straight roads and restricted speed limits of the test drive route out of Saratoga, it was possible to get an idea of the extraordinary acceleration, handling and braking of the car. Those worried about the car losing the legendary exhaust note of the normally aspirated flat six have nothing to fear.  The car, especially in Sports Plus mode, has quite a growl.  Of course, such performance doesn’t come cheap.  Adding virtually every performance option available tacked another $45,000 on to the  vehicle’s base of $89,400.

 

As great as the 911 turbo is, the most enjoyable part of the drive might have been the chance to talk with Jeff.  He started with Porsche’s school at the Road Atlanta Race Track in 2000.  The school proved so successful that the 100 days available in Atlanta weren’t meeting the demand so, after three years the school moved to the Barber Motor Sports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.  Adorned by George Barber’s nursery, the track is often dubbed the Augusta of race tracks in a nod to the beautiful landscaping of the Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia.  Jeff teaches at  Birmingham forty to fifty days a year.  He’s on the road bringing Porsches to the public another fifty to sixty days.

 

Jeff, too, enjoys test drive events because of the conversation. While topics range widely, the most frequent  question Jeff gets from drivers is “how do I drive an automatic?”  For those weaned on six speed gear boxes, it’s a changing world: the GT3 RS is PDK only. Paddle shifting was the only manual option in the test drive car. Jeff says as enjoyable as running through gears manually can be, manual shift cars give up seconds to their doppelkupplung counterparts on the track.  Another question Jeff often hears from drivers as they contemplate the speed and acceleration the 911 turbo- “Have you ever had anyone get ticketed during a test drive?”  Says Jeff,  that does happen- an exciting test drive followed by an expensive ticket in the mail.

 

So Jeff’s favorite Porsche?  The Panamera GTS- one of only two normally aspirated engines Porsche makes. Jeff says the V8 makes great sounds, is a true driver’s car and has all the running gear the turbo has.  He adds it does everything.  There’s room inside for your friends. You can put bikes in it. You can drive it for pleasure.  Say’s Jeff, “It’s the only Porsche you need.”

A special thanks to Allen Schwartz for his reporting and photography, without which, this article would not have been possible.

Here’s a look at some of the activity at the Cars and Coffee test drive event…

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A Look Back: 2009 Picnic and Concours

Capture

Every now and then, Open Roads will reach into the past for a bit of club history. For those of you who are still shivering from this past weekend’s picnic, here’s what the day looked like seven years ago.  Photos  taken from the Summer 2009 edition of the Air Cooled Advertiser, the Club’s pdf newsletter.

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Annual Picnic Draws Large Crowd Despite Chilly Weather

There were no reported cases of hypothermia and the white flecks flying through the air were probably from plants and not snowflakes; still many wished for long johns, and down parkas were the day’s fashion statement.  Hard to believe nearly one-hundred HCP-PCA members were gathered for the Club’s 2016 annual June picnic and not a Drive and Dine to Lapland Lakes for a day of cross-country skiing.  Yet, despite the blustery winds and bone-chilling cold, the day offered a parking lot filled with beautiful cars, great BBQ and a chance to enjoy the companionship of fellow club members.  As always, the people’s concours presented exceedingly difficult choices.  A 1970 yellow 1914 in mint condition?  A 944 turbo- a past national concours champion that looked as though it had just left the showroom?  In the end, not even a white 2017 911 turbo could claim more member’s votes than the  356C that sat quietly amongst newer cars, its 75 hp. motor waiting to come to life.  Add a raffle and some tasty food from Shane’s Rib Shack to the festivities and you have the recipe for another successful HCP gathering.  The picnic also provided an opportunity for the Club to continue its charity work.  Under the guidance of acting charity chair Sharifa Perry, the Club is again supporting the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern N.Y. and the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Regional Puppy Raising Program.  Last year the Club raised over $2,300 for these organizations.  If you didn’t get a chance to make a donation at the picnic, there’s still time.  Sharifa is accepting checks through June, 30th.  Mail them to her at 105 Albany Tpk. Old Chatham, NY 12136.

Finally, in passing, congratulations to Chris Klapper and Will Waldron who were recognized for completing National Instructor Training,  and a special shout-out to the member, who shall  remain unnamed,  whose newly washed black Boxster  looked very sharp indeed.

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A Feast for the Eyes at New Country’s May Cars and Coffee

Porsche, Ferrari, MG, Oh My!  Travelers along the Yellow Brick Road found themselves, not in Oz, but at New Country Porsche for May’s Cars and Coffee event.  The weather was hot but so were the cars.  Sprinkle a curvaceous Ferrari and a perfectly persevered, vintage MG into a lot filled with Porsches ranging from vintage 356’s to a new  GT3 and you get a car enthusiast’s feast.  Turn-out for the event was high.  Those who dined on the smorgasbord of cars also partook of the coffee and pastries provided by New Country.  As always, thanks to Christian and the New Country staff for their hospitality and another great C&C event.

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A Look Back at Cups and Saucers at the Glen

To get the adrenaline flowing for HCP’s next DE event to be held at Lime Rock Park in August, here’s a look back at some of the cars and drivers that made their way to Watkins Glen in May for Cups and Saucers, our Club’s premier track event.  Thanks to Amanda Brinke and Paul Budlong for the photographs.

 

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Club Heads to Cooperstown for May D&D

What would Natty Bumppo have thought: twelve Porsches winding their way through Leatherstocking Country towards Cooperstown, NY, the destination for May’s HCP-PCA Drive and Dine.  Cooperstown,  which began with William Cooper’s purchase of 10,000 acres of land along Otsego Lake in 1785, is today  a beautiful village of museums, stately homes, attractive shops and excellent restaurants- the perfect destination for an HCP outing.  Some club members walked Cooperstown’s  streets and visited the Baseball Hall of Fame while others took a short drive to the Ommegang Brewery.  Set on 136 acres and built to model a Belgian farmhouse, the brewery currently produces over forty different styles of Belgian Ale.  While the brewery, now owned by Belgian brewer Duvel, produces craft quality beer- with a production of over four million bottles a year, it is, technically, no longer a craft brewer.  Those who made the trip to Ommegang took a look at the brewery’s ale-making processes and sampled five of its most popular brews- as well stocking up on a number of them in the brewery’s gift shop.  One-o’clock brought everyone back together for lunch at the Lake Front Restaurant and a chance to embarrass Andy Dorman by celebrating his birthday with a singing of Happy Birthday by the HCP Chorus.  The day, which began with ominous skies and showers on the drive to Cooperstown, ended with sunny skies and temperatures in the seventies- good fortune for Boxster owners who were able to drive home with tops down.

Thanks to Bryan and Joyce Hollenbaugh for arranging and leading a great outing.  Watch for details on HCP’s  next Drive and Dine- a tour of Saratoga County horse farms at the end of July.

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Members Gather for May Dinner Meeting

Over forty HCP-PCA members gathered for May’s monthly dinner meeting at German Auto Parts in Halfmoon to socialize, catch up on club news and to hear owner Mark Davidson describe what German Auto Parts has to offer to club members.

The news delivered by the Club’s Board and committee chairs was good:  finances are sound, membership continues to grow with seven new members in just the past month, and the Club continues to offer  activities that appeal to a broad swath of HCP members.

Looking back, April’s Drive and Dine was the first D&D of the year that provided  members a chance to get their cars on the road.  Eighteen Porsche’s made their way to Poughkeepsie to Dyson Racing and afterwards, an art studio in Woodstock and lunch at the acclaimed Mountain Brauhaus.  Mid-month there was a strong turnout for the first autocross of the season at the McCarty Avenue parking lot. The gods were smiling on the Club- the weather for both events was perfect for getting out in a Porsche.

Looking forward, the calendar is full.  May offers Cups and Saucers, the Club’s premier DE event, a Zone 1 rally and concours, 48 hours at Watkins Glen and a Drive and Dine to Cooperstown.  The annual picnic, which is free to Club members, is slated for June 12th.  Look for some great food provided by Shane’s Rib Shack, a people’s choice concours and the opportunity to support two worthwhile charities. June also puts the annual Porsche Parade in our backyard at Jay Peak, Vermont.  If you haven’t registered for the event, there’s still the opportunity for a terrific day trip just to look around and take in the atmosphere.

More track, autocross and drive and dine events follow in July and August.  Planning for the annual Fall Weekend Get-away is underway.  Putting a different spin on the trip this year, the Club will travel to Philadelphia to take in the sights.

Keep checking the blog and your email for more details on these and other club events.

It was the club’s first visit to German Auto Parts, a long-time supplier of OEM parts for German vehicles as well as Volvos and Saabs. Following a meal provided by  GAP, owner Mark Davidson described the wide variety of parts and supplies his business offers to meet virtually all the maintenance and repair needs of Porsche owners.  After taking questions from members, Mark led them on a tour of the facility and its abundant inventory.  A thanks to German Auto Parts for playing host.

The picnic will serve as June’s business and dinner meeting.  The next Monday meeting is July 11th at New Country Porsche in Clifton Park.  Because of July 4th, this meeting is on the second Monday of the month.

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A Successful April Drive and Dine

The reviews are in- the April Drive and Dine was great success.  With some drivers starting at R&D Automotive  in Albany and others joining the caravan along the way, eighteen Porsches found their way to Poughkeepsie, NY and Dyson Racing- home to one of the oldest sports car racing teams in North America.  Founded by Rob Dyson who won his first amateur race at Watkins Glen driving a Datsun 510 in 1974, Dyson Racing has compiled one of the most impressive winning records in sports car racing history.  A private tour of the facility for Club members revealed what might be called a working “museum” of racing history and technology.

Leaving Dyson, the group headed for lunch at the Mountain Brahaus, another long-standing Catskill’s institution.  Growing out of the Sugar Bowl, a restaurant started by one of three German brothers who immigrated to New York City in 1917, the family operated Brahaus has served it’s German fare since 1955.  Some Club members will tell you the Mountain Brauhaus serves the finest German food this side of Germany.

Following lunch, members headed in various directions- some to a Woodstock art studio, some to a winery, some back the road for a leisurely drive home.  It was a good outing for the close to forty club members who had a beautiful spring day to Drive and Dine.

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Fine Day for April 17th Autocross

A beautiful April day provided a great beginning to this season’s HCP autocross series.  Take a drive around the course with Audrey Engelsberg in her 2012 Cayman R and check out the slide show for a look at some of the other cars that showed up at the McCarty Ave. parking lot in Albany.  Be sure to mark your calendar for the next AC event on Saturday, July 9th.

 

 

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National Announces New Event

Treffen North America is PCA’s newest National event, taking the place of PCA Escape. The first event, Treffen Lake Tahoe, will happen in Olympic Valley, California on September 7-11, 2016.  Here’s a quick look:

 

treffen

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Rocky Mountain High Way

Heading west this summer or looking for a reason to go that way?  Here’s an update on the Alpine Mountain Region’s Rocky Mountain High Way summer adventure beginning July 27th.  Looks like a good time.

May full pageRMHWje

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New 911 Unveiled at Auto Museum

HCP members were well represented among the over three hundred people who ventured to the Saratoga Auto Museum on April 8th for the unveiling of Porsche’s new 911, hosted by Porsche of Clifton Park.  The event was the area’s first look at the latest generation of  Porsche’s iconic car which sports a new six-cylinder twin-turbo charged engine that Porsche designed from the ground up. The engine in the 911 Carrera generates 20 more horsepower and 43 lb.-ft. more torque that the flat-six it replaces- all while achieving better fuel economy.  With a manual transmission, Porsche claims the car will take you to 6o mph in 4.4 seconds.   The engine in the S model kicks perfomance up another notch using larger turbochargers and an independent exhaust system.  Good food and drink and a great setting complimented the presence of the 911’s.  A great night out for car-lovers.

Here’s a look at the event.  A great thanks to Patty and Paul Budlong for the photos…

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Coming Attraction: May Drive and Dine to Cooperstown

brewomDon’t miss a great trip to Cooperstown led by Bryan and Joyce Hollenbaugh.  Here’s Bryan’s description of what they have planned…

Spend the day in scenic Cooperstown, NY.

Whether you’re in it for the scenic drive (great back roads along lakes and through Amish country); a visit to the Ommegang Brewery, window shopping along Main Street, a walk through the world-famous National Baseball Hall of Fame, or simply enjoying lunch and libations overlooking Lake Otsego; there’s a little something for everyone to photoenjoy.

The trip includes a pair of complimentary admission passes to the National Baseball Hall of Fame that can be used at any time. The only thing firm is that we’ll meet in the parking lot of Schenectady Community College at 8:30 am, so we can get you signed in, briefed, and be on the road by 9 am.

After about a 90 minute drive, we’ll arrive in Cooperstown where participants can determine what they want to do until we all meet back up for lunch at a location to be determined.

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Monthly Meeting Goes On Despite Weather

April is the cruelest month- T.S. Eliot…

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It felt like a betrayal.  Almost six inches of snow after a winter of record warmth.  Porsches confined to garages or sitting in driveways, covered with snow.  But, not enough snow to keep more than two dozen HCP members from driving to Porsche of Clifton Park for the club’s regular First Monday of the Month dinner and business meeting.

Those who attended got a picture of a club in good health.  Three new members over the last month pushed the club membership roll to 616.  Treasurer Will Waldron pronounced the club financially sound and reports from Board members and committee chairs presented a varied menu of coming attractions that should appeal to a broad range of HCP members.

April, which has already kicked off with two days of DE at Lime Rock Park, offers the season’s first autocross event on the 17th at the McCarty Ave. parking lot in Albany and a trip to Woodstock and Dyson Racing in Poughkeepsie on April 30th.  Matt Rutten, autocross chair, promises his event will be “the most fun you can have in a parking lot with your clothes on”.  “The worst thing you can do is kill a few cones,” Matt adds.  While experienced drivers will be at the event, the day will be geared to newcomers with instruction available.

Activities Chair Louis Dahoda talks about the April Drive and Dine

Activities Chair Louis Dahoda talks about the April Drive and Dine

The Drive and Dine on the 30th will begin with a stop at Dyson Racing, home of one of the longest running and most successful North American sports car racing teams and proceed to Woodstock where members can visit a number of artist’s studios that will be open for the day, or simply walk the streets of the town.

Looking ahead to May, watch for details on a Bryan and Joyce Hollenbaugh led trip to Cooperstown.  Bryan and Joyce promise a picturesque drive down and a number of interesting ways to spend the day.

[Editor’s Note: If you are attending a club event in April, please consider helping our blog-  if nothing more than with some photos of the event taken with a cell phone camera. Let’s try to feature all club events in Open Roads.  If you’d like to help in some way, you contact me at newsletter@hcp-pca.com.

Wrapping up committee news, the Club will continue its tradition of charitable giving.  Members attending the club picnic in June will be asked to consider making a charitable donation and a silent auction will raise money for charity at the annual banquet in November.  The Club will also conduct another Coats for Kids Drive in the fall.
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Dinner eaten and club business concluded, the evening ended with Porsche of Clifton Park general manager Christian Trujillo offering members a sneak peek at the new 911’s that the dealership will formally unveil at the Saratoga Auto Museum on April 8th.  Needless to say, gorgeous automobiles.  Club members who would like to attend the 911 debut but haven’t yet reserved a spot at the event should RSVP to the dealership.

Christian also outlined a more active role for the dealership in promoting the Porsche brand and involving club members in the process.  How about an autocross where members can drive a new 718 Boxster?  Of course, Saturday Cars and Coffee events at the dealership will continue.  Put April 22nd aside for the next C&C.  A special treat: Stephen Pivonka, Club member and proprietor of Barkeater Coffee Roasters, will be brewing coffee for those in attendance.  See you there.

 

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April Event at Lime Rock Kicks Off DE Season

It was rainy.  It was sunny.  It was a lotta fun.  That’s the way chief track instructor Andy Dorman described HCP’s first track event of the season, held at Lime Rock Park on April 1st and 2nd.  Twenty-six experienced drivers, those with more than hours of solo experience, took to the track on a sunny Friday.  Saturday’s session,  an opportunity for drivers with less track experience, was a good day for learning- intermittent periods of sun and rain produced changing track conditions and changing demands on the driver.  Twenty-eight drove the circuit on Saturday.

Thanks to Matt Rutten for the photos…

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Zone 1 Concours and Rally Registration Now Open

Registration for  the 2016 Zone 1 Concours & Rally on May 13-15  is now open.  Location: Old Westbury Gardens, Holiday Inn Westbury.

Register Here . Sign up while early bird rates are still in effect. Full details, classes & rules can be found on Zone 1 website.

There are only a few rooms left at the host hotel at the discounted rate and they will close out soon. If you are planning on staying for the weekend book now by calling 516-997-5000 and reference the Porsche Club for special rates.  

 

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Tool-less In the Bronx

For this installment in his Long and Whining Road series, Club member Allen Schwartz reminisces about his upbringing in the Bronx and his aptitude for things mechanical.

 

 

We have a large club, so most members don’t know me at all. Even those I’ve gotten to know since joining the club two years ago don’t really know much about me.  What they do know is that I am not a “car guy,” that I am not “handy.”  While I love cars and have always loved cars, I unfortunately am intimidated by mechanical things. I’d love to be able to change my own oil, put on new brake pads — heck, rebuild an engine. I want to have to buy that stuff that degreases your hands. But instead I get jittery just hooking up my trickle charger.  I’m afraid I’m going to do something wrong, fry the battery, blow up the garage, electrocute myself.  Why is this?  You see,  I grew up in the Bronx.

 

My father was a young Bronx attorney who served as a cook during WWII. The military, as many of you know, has a knack for putting the right person in the right job. After the war, he ended up living in a Quonset hut in the South Bronx with my mother and older brother, who was  just a baby. Soon they moved into a public housing project in the north Bronx, in the Pelham Parkway section.

 

When I was born in ‘48, I joined them in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on the third floor of this red brick post war structure. The building itself boasted an elevator, and every floor had a garbage chute that allowed you to dump your refuse directly down to the basement, where it would be incinerated and shot out as chimney smoke the very next day! Watching that smoke billow from the many chimneys in the project and slowly disappear into the blue sky, I remember asking my father what would happen when the sky was full of smoke?  (We’re starting to find out.)  Our neighbors, all lovely people, were mostly hard working blue collar families. Many of them saved up their money and bought homes in new suburban developments springing up in Westchester and Long Island, places like Levittown.

 

But not my father and mother. They had many sisters and brothers who lived in the Pelham area; hence my brother and I had many aunts, uncles, and cousins. We were Jewish, and like most Italian, Irish, Greek, and Puerto Rican families in those days (and second generation immigrant families today), these clans tended to stick together. It was, therefore, my fate to spend most weekends socially trapped within this extended family, kneeling on the floor with my cousins, building and attacking tin metal forts, killing plastic Indians with plastic rifles, spinning wheels on board games, and flipping tidily-winks into tea cups.  Not until my father was in his forties did we move, and then only to a nicer apartment building ten blocks away.  Although a local lawyer who did real estate closings galore for his contractor clients, he never owned a home in his life, a child of the depression who always fretted, I think, about not making the mortgage payment.

 

Besides, for him, living in an apartment was swell!  If something went wrong, you just called the “super” (nowadays known as the maintenance man, or even the “building engineer”), and the super would fix it! For free! Therefore my father never had any interest in, nor developed any skills related to, making or fixing things, and as a consequence neither did I.  Sorry to say I have no stories of sitting beside my dad as he took apart a carburetor or brake assembly, or even a toaster oven, and repaired it, with me handing him tools and him dispensing mechanical wisdom to a spellbound son. No, my father’s entire toolbox fit within a single kitchen drawer, comprised only of a screwdriver, hammer, and pliers. Those three implements could do anything he ever needed to do, mechanically speaking.

 

We parked our car on the street outside the apartment complex.  When we washed the car, we’d fill up a bucket with soap and tap water in the kitchen sink, then lug it down in the elevator, walk a few blocks to the curb, and scrub the car with sponges.  Then we’d dump the dirty water into a sewer, go back up and return with a clean bucket for the rinse.  We’d do this a few times.  I never owned a hose until I bought my first home at the age of 31.

 

Even so, I loved cars. As a young boy, I admired the variety of designs and details, and like most of my friends, we memorized each year’s makes and models (all domestic at the time) and could name any car from a block away just by its tail lights or grill. The Fifties, when I grew up, was in many ways the heyday of American motorcar design, or at least it’s awakening.  That was the era when running boards were dispensed with, when big tail fins and Christmas tree tail lights were first introduced, the time when the front wheels of the car were finally brought under the hood where they belonged and no longer stuck under a bulbous external fender like a gangster car in a Forties film noire.

 

The first car I can remember my father buying was in 1955, when I was seven.  One night he triumphantly proclaimed to the family that we were going to buy a brand new Chrysler New Yorker.  I was very excited when I saw the brochures.  To compete with the more stylish Chevrolets and Fords of the time, Chrysler had spent hundreds of millions designing a more modern looking line of cars they would introduce in 1955.  It was variously marketed as “The Forward Look” or “The 100-Million-Dollar Look.” (I have no idea why they added hyphens, but there they were. Perhaps they were also redesigning how words were to be separated in the new “100-Million-Dollar-English”!)  Some articles about this transformation at Chrysler say they actually spent closer to $250 million on the redesign, but I suppose that number didn’t sound as crisp in advertising copy to the Madison Avenue crowd.

 

This new “look” extended to the whole Chrysler lineup, which included the Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto, and Imperial brands, so it was a huge retooling. And along with the new exteriors that appeared quite modern, almost revolutionary, to a seven-year-old, they also featured smoother transmissions, more powerful engines, silkier steering and braking, and plushier interiors.

 

Our car, like many with The Forward Look, was two-toned.  The roof, hood, and front bumpers were Royal Blue, divided from the light blue lower half by a prominent chrome slash that ran the lengtAllen Photo resizedh of the car like a gleaming Mason-Dixon line.  The tail lights were thin and tall, with lots of bulbs. The front grill was called an “egg-crate.”  The tires had wide white walls, as did most of the fancy cars of that vintage.  Inside, the bench seats were probably light blue (although I cannot be sure) and might actually have been leather.  I do recall that parts of the dashboard and steering assembly were blue, and there was a stylish AM/FM radio with lots of push buttons and a round analog clock affixed up front.  I think the gear lever of the new, effortless hydraulic transmission was mounted on the dash, which if I’m correct was a radical, even controversial concept. (Could a driver accidentally shift into reverse with a stray elbow while dousing his cigarette in the ashtray?)  In any event, she was certainly a beauty!  And as the ad promised, this car was sure to enhance my father’s sense of “personal power and personal pride!”  The italics were Chrysler’s.

When the day came to pick up the car, I remember it as a major family event. We went to the dealership, where my father strode around his new acquisition with the salesman as he pointed out various features and reinforced my dad’s conviction that he had bought a truly magnificent machine.  His pride and power were growing before our very eyes.  He signed the papers and then we took off.

It was to be a very special day.  We were going for a long 80 mile drive up to Hyde Park, just north of Poughkeepsie, to break in the new car and see the historic home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that was listed on the National Register. We would take the Bronx River Parkway, which was close to where we lived, up to the Taconic Parkway, itself largely championed by FDR.  Fulfilling his vision for a scenic highway through the Hudson region, planning on the Taconic began in the 20’s; ground was broken in 1931. The construction lasted over four decades. The project was not completed until the 1960s, so I’m not certain how much of that drive in 1955 was actually on the Taconic of today — some of it may have been on country roads that followed the same route.

 

Nevertheless, I loved being in the spacious, cushy back seat with my brother, smelling the leather, and gazing out at the magnificent scenery.  We made it safely to our destination.  I recall it being a bright, warm, and sunny day, most likely in spring or summer, and I suppose we strolled the grounds and walked through the homes, gazing over the red velvet ropes into the library where HE worked and the kitchen where THEY cooked.  It must have been grand for a kid like me.

 

But the most memorable thing of all happened in the parking lot as we prepared for the drive home.  I remember this very clearly. You see, our brand new Chrysler New Yorker, with the two-tones and the hydrostatic wahtchamagig and The Forward Look would not start. For heaven’s sake, IT WOULD NOT START!  My father must’ve turned the key a hundred times.  Nothing.  He lifted the hood as if he knew what was under it and could magically figure out what was wrong.  I don’t recall him being angry.  What I do remember is that he had lost much of his pride and power. Hood up, scratching his head, and no doubt wondering how we would ever get home, he sat on a stone wall beside the car, forlorn and deflated.

 

Then a sort of miracle occurred.  A man wandered over who, my father would later tell me, was a Chrysler mechanic who was actually trained in these new car engines. Apparently, this wizard was able to get the car started, and he told my father to get it to the dealer and have it fixed right away.  It was something he had seen before.  And so, we got home.

 

From that day on, the car was nothing but trouble.  Something was always making a bad sound — failing, dying, gasping, clanking, clicking, groaning, squeaking, or breaking.  Fumes rose, smoke drifted, liquid leaked. The pride and power were gone, replaced with a feeling of what the heck did I buy?  After a few years, my father sold the Chrysler and bought a used Ford sedan.  That one I remember was black, but had large chrome skirts over the rear wheel openings.  My father had decided to trade in his P and P for flashy and youthful.

 

My failure to receive any mechanical training at home extended to my schooling.  In middle school, which was called Junior High School in NYC back then, I was put into a printing class where I learned to set type and carve linoleum tiles into patterns that could be inked and printed onto paper by our own manual printing press, donated to the school I imagine by Guttenberg himself.  While other, more “mechanically inclined” or “industrially tracked” students learned valuable skills like woodworking, carpentry, or even car repair, I diligently acquired printing expertise from the 19th century that was totally obsolete in the 1960s. I can say with absolute certainty that those skills have never proved useful to me at any time since that class ended (except perhaps that I understood what “font size” meant on the computer, marginally before my peers).

 

Later, when I attended the Bronx High School of Science (about which I can only say wonderful things), no mechanical training was offered.  My electives were Microbiology (where I learned to infect a Petri dish with bacteria, and then stain it) and Blood and Urine Analysis (a perennial favorite involving our favorite bodily fluids).  There, by the way, the toughest guy at Bronx Science, Mike Segal, who could barely pass his classes but was a huge brute and the star athlete on our football “club,” was my lab partner.  To everyone’s surprise, on day one, he passed out cold and hit the ground hard the very first time I lanced his finger to draw a drop of blood.  Oh, how the mighty will fall!  For the rest of the semester, we used only my blood.  Fortunately, he could pee.

 

High school was probably my last chance to obtain any formal mechanical education.  None of my friends had private homes, garages, or cars.  We all lived in apartments and took buses and subways to get around the city.  My technical ignorance was sealed, and it led to a lifelong lack of confidence when it came to sticking my hands into something mechanical or electrical.  The funny thing is that when I have assembled things, or made minor repairs, I’m not all that bad at it. I can read and follow instructions (something, however, I am told “real” men don’t have to do), and I usually get the job done.  I will admit that occasionally I have to take the thing apart and reassemble it because I did something out of order, or misunderstood some step or connection.  Sometimes I end up with extra screws or nuts.  It takes me longer than I think it should.  But eventually I get the thing done. I believe I could’ve been a decent mechanic if only given the chance.

 

So now, in my 60s, I find myself at the track surrounded by men (and women) who have grown up with garages and cars and fathers who thought them how to dive in and fearlessly take things apart and put them back together.  They’re not afraid of breaking something, or blowing something up.  They’re confident that whatever obstacles come along, they will persevere, figure it out, overcome the problem, fix the thing, or replace the part. I watch with interest as they remove tires, swap out rims, slide under the chassis to tighten, loosen, adjust, or replace various parts, push this and pull that.  They know just which tool to use, how much to tighten a screw or a bolt, how many turns to calibrate an assembly, how hard to strain before giving up and trying another approach. They talk about the job they’re doing and give each other encouragement. They share tools and tips.  It’s all wonderful, and I’m just not a part of it.  I am very envious. But slowly, with the help of a few friends in the club, I am learning how to care for my 2005 Porsche Boxster and do some minor things to it.  I know where all the hidden places are, where to put oil, water, brake and windshield washer fluid.  I understand what all those numbers mean on my tires. I even know how to attach my trickle charger.  It’s a start.  But heaven help me if the IMS bearing goes.

 

All I can say is, if you’re ever lost in the Bronx and feel alone and in danger, call me.  You see, I know everything about how to get you out of there.  And because I’m a city boy, they don’t frighten me a whit. I’ve easily navigated the tubes in London and Tokyo, found my way about Marrakesh and Vienna, felt at home in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  Every upbringing leaves its own footprint and skill set.  It turns out that I did learn some things back there in the Bronx that come in handy.  Just not under the hood.

…Allen Schwartz

 

 

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A Hacker’s Delight?

Your laptop is gone along with that bottle of Cabernet you just bought at the wine shop.  You know you locked your car before you ran into the market to pick up those last few things for dinner. It’s not locked now and your stuff is gone. You got hacked.

 

It may be ironic that as our cars become safer they become more vulnerable. Recently, major automakers agreed to install auto braking systems in all cars sold in the U.S. by 2022.  Add this feature to others such as collision avoidance and lane change assist and we have greater safety- but with a price paid in increasingly complex computer code that makes today’s cars some of the most sophisticated machines on the planet.  “Cars these days are reaching biological levels of complexity” says Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University.

 

Even the most basic cars can have upwards of fifty electronic control units [ECUs] that communicate over a car’s CANs or Controller Area Networks. The result: Today’s cars are controlled by computer programs with over 100 million lines of code.  An F-22 fighter has two million lines.  The seventeen mile long Large Hadron Collider which is unlocking secrets of the universe five hundred feet below the border of France and Switzerland has “only” 80 million.  With this complexity, who could have discovered VW’s programming that allowed over eleven million vehicles to avoid U.S. pollution control laws?

 

Back to your unlocked car.  Jerry Hirsch of the L.A. Times writes that last January, BMW was forced to act when it was discovered that a basic lack of encryption technology left over two-million of its vehicles vulnerable to hacking of door locks. The picture gets more ominous.  In a demonstration staged for Wired magazine, two hackers sitting on a couch ten miles away, gained control of a Jeep Cherokee as it drove down a St. Louis highway at 70 miles-per-hour.  Rap music began blasting out of the stereo.  The air-conditioner went into spasms.  The wipers moved as the car sprayed washer fluid onto the windshield.  Finally, the engine turned off.  The demonstration rang alarm bells at the NHTSA which negotiated with Chrysler-Fiat to recall 1.4 million vehicles to fix the vulnerability in the UConnect system that was exploited by the hackers. Tech gurus have also hacked into a Tesla S and used a dongle plugged into the OBD2 port of a 2014 Corvette to control the car’s brakes and wipers. In Europe, researchers started vehicles by hacking into Megamos Crypto transponders, devices that authenticate a car’s key fob before allowing the vehicle to start.

Time to get paranoid?  Not so fast says Andrew Brandt, director of Threat Resource.  He notes that the Tesla attack required access to hardware that could be reached only by taking apart the car’s dashboard.  To control the Jeep it was necessary to update the car’s operating system and flash it into the car’s computer- a process that took considerable effort.  A spokesman from Audi which uses the Megamos Crypto unit downplayed the threat of hacked transponders. The units use 96 bit encryption when communicating with the car’s fob making a random guess of the correct code needed to start the vehicle virtually impossible. The spokesman noted “manipulators must record at least two consecutive engine-starting operations with the original key, so it isn’t easily accomplished in the real world and uncommon.” Still, the researchers who did record the code twice were able to reduce the number of guesses necessary to find the actual key code from billions to 196,607. Thirty minutes later, using a brute force technique, they had the information needed to make a duplicate key.  As for dongles, Brandt says they’re easy to spot- if you see something plugged in under your dash that you didn’t put there, remove it immediately.

Right now it’s unclear where the security of your car will ultimately rest.  Facing potential legal liability,  car makers have tremendous incentive to prevent hacking.  Maryanna Saenko, a senior analyst at Lux Research, observes car makers are awaking to the reality that, as they develop increasingly connected cars, they are pushing security risks onto the market.  Stefan Savage, a computer security professor at the University of California goes even further, describing automakers as “in a state of panic.”  Tesla co-sponsored a car hacking village at a recent DEF CON conference and has offered a $10,000 bounty to any hacker who can uncover flaws in its code. According to Robert Strassburger, vice president for vehicle safety at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, companies are creating a central clearing house that will work to identify and share potential threats and vulnerabilities.  Such a center might work better if the calls of some security experts for open source software are heeded. Currently, car computer codes are proprietary and closely guarded.  Companies argue that opening their code would allow less innovative competitors a free ride on their efforts.

 

Even with the threat of lurking legal action, not all car companies have moved vigorously when faced with security breaches, a reluctance to act that has caught the attention of federal regulators.  A bi-partisan bill named the Security and Privacy in Your Car Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate this past July.  The bill calls for the establishment of federal standards to protect the privacy of drivers and the security of their cars.  The bill also calls for incentives to manufacturers to develop better technologies and streamline the process for recalls. There is also action in the House; a sub-committee is crafting legislation that would require manufacturers to state their privacy policies and impose civil penalties of up to $100,000 on anyone found guilty of hacking a vehicle.  The house committee also calls for the creation of an Automotive Cybersecurity Advisory Council to develop best-practices for manufacturers of cars sold in the U.S.  Car companies strongly oppose any government interference and are yelling “hands off”.  Some with ties to the industry have called the proposed legislation uninformed, poorly crafted and a hindrance to research and innovation.  Advocates for legislation counter that current laws against hacking are woefully out of date and could actually criminalize legitimate research into computer vulnerabilities.  They argue the current discussion of car hacking provides an excellent opportunity to update federal law.

 

Regardless of who tackles the problem, it’s one that will only become more pressing.  With the development of autonomous vehicles, car computer systems can only become more sophisticated and, lacking tight security oversight, an increasingly attractive target for hackers.

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Music to the Ears: The Porsche Exhaust Note

There’s been a lot of hand wringing over  whether Porsche’s move to a horizontally opposed, turbo charged six will kill the legendary Porsche exhaust note.  Porsche says no:  “What cannot be expressed in figures: the legendary sound of a 911 six-cylinder horizontally opposed engine. And the experience is all the more intense for it”, reads the description of the new 911 Carerra on the company’s website.  Let’s hope the new turbos do carry on the aural tradition- one now documented in a new book, Porsche Sounds, a collaborative effort between Dieter Landenberger, Porsche AG Director of Historical Archives, and Porsche Club GB.  The book features photos of classic Porsche models along with a CD of the engine sounds from each car.  Definitely deserves a place on the coffee table. Here’s a link to an article on the book, with a few sample photos and exhaust recordings, that appeared on CNN’s Style webpage- http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/25/autos/porsche-sounds-book/index.html

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