Thinking About Trying Your Car on the Track? Read this…

With DE season and the Club’s first track days rapidly approaching, here’s a look at how the Club’s mentor program makes it easy for drivers to get involved with performance driving on a race track.  This piece is largely based on an article written for the Air Cooled Advertiser by John H. Shafer.  John served as HCP’s track mentor for a number of years and is currently the 2016 Class C Porsche Club of America Club Racing champion.  Thanks to John for his work on the initial article.

You’re staring at your Porsche in the driveway thinking about how you’ve never really experienced  the car’s full performance.  Hey, if you bought the car to impress your neighbors, it can sit in the driveway. But if you really want to explore what your car can do- along with experiencing the supreme adrenalin rush from finding out, you need to enter the world of Driver’s Education and head to the track.  If  you’ve thought about the track but aren’t sure how to get started and what’s involved, the HCP PCA mentor program is there to help.   The program is straight forward- novices are paired with an experienced driver.  The goal of the program is simple- to provide drivers all the assistance they need to get on world class race track- and to make sure their experience is as exciting and rewarding as possible.  The Club benefits from the program as well. Sponsoring track days is expensive for the Club and costs need to be covered.  If the mentor program increases member participation in DE events, they become economically easier to sustain.

 A primary goal of the track mentor is to increase the comfort level of first time DE participants.  This is done in a number of ways. The mentor ensures a car is track ready by going over a checklist with the mentee before the tech inspection that is required for all cars participating in a DE event. Not sure where to go for a tech inspection in the Capital District?  The mentor knows.  Questions about readying your car, such as, “ What brake pads should I use in my 911?” are questions the mentor can answer. The mentor also provides  a list of items that should be brought to the event to maintain the vehicle and the driver throughout the day.

The mentor also helps create an increased mental awareness in the novice driver by reviewing a list of expectations and requirements  for  the day at the track.  Information about track etiquette, classroom attendance, track rules, the when’s and where’s, and proper nourishment needed to sustain a day of driving is all provided by the mentor. The mentor explains  driving groups and the qualifications and requirements for placement in each group.  If the  mentee has procedural or technical questions but isn’t sure whom to approach, the mentor provides that information.  The mentor also deals with  questions about car performance and concerns about other students and instructors.

The mentor is also concerned with the comfort of the new driver at the track and can provide information on all matters logistical. Where to stay and what’s the  best way to get there?  What’s to eat in Mt. Tremblant?  What is the best route to Mosport, Ontario?  Do I need a passport to enter Canada? Why does Google Maps show a barn where the raceway in Palmer Mass. is supposed to be? What can I do with my family when off track? Who else is going? Can I caravan with someone?  Any logistical questions- the mentor is there to help.

Finally the mentor acts as a companion- someone to “hang out” with before, during and after run sessions;  someone with whom to share dinner; someone to travel with to the event; someone with whom to share tools.   

If you’re ready for the track, the mentor program will help you get there with ease and assurance.  With the help of your mentor, you’ll be able to focus on the reason you decided to try DE in the first place: experiencing the true performance capabilities of your car- and becoming a much better driver in the process.  Linda Klapper is currently the Club’s track mentor.  Linda is an experienced and accomplished driver.  Shoot her an email at and she’ll get you started.  John Shafer is now a racing champion.  He got started at Lime Rock Park.  He writes, “At my first event on a Saturday at LRP, my knees didn’t stop shaking until about Tuesday; I was hooked.”  Get in touch with Linda.  Maybe you’ll be hooked too.


Note:  If you’re interested in DE, keep the DE information session at the Century House in Latham on March 11 in mind.  The session starts at 2:00 pm at the conclusion of the new member’s luncheon.

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