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Zone Rep Report February 2011

Sean CridlandIn the Zone by Sean Cridland

In the world of PCA, early winter is akin to early morning. It's still a bit dark, and cold, and the muscles take awhile to get warmed up and functioning. But daylight -- and Spring -- are inevitable. Soon we'll be getting moving again. Hot shower, get coffeed up, dress for weather, and get back out there. Sure it's not summer, but so what. Porsches don't have any stamp on them that says "commence using in June." The cars we like are renowned for their hardiness and versatility. Vic Elford won the Monte Carlo Rally in one of those early 911s notorious for its tail-happy personality , and he LIKED it!

For many of us, early morning and early months are also time for reflection. I'm currently reading friend and mentor Dick Dorworth's book The Perfect Turn, a collection of his writings about his life-long love affair with mountains and skiing. He was a ski-racer in the late 50s and early 60s and, along with friend and cohort C.B. Vaughn,  became half of the first American duo to share the world speed skiing record at 105mph. Slow by today's standards, but when you consider the equipment of 1963, almost inconceivable.  Adding to his reputation, Dorworth is unique for his ability to articulate and share his experiences through a writing style that balances the pathos of Steinbeck with the immediacy of Kerouac, as economic  as Hemingway, but often infused with a tinge of Tom Robbins. You may think I'm bragging on my friend, but 40 years of reviews agree.

With each chapter I'm reminded of my childhood heroes, mutual friends, significant places in my life and shared experiences, as you would expect. Perhaps the most compelling  chapter of his book, however,   is on the Joy of Skiing. If you're not a skier, I won't bore you with descriptions and incitements to venture into a world that many of you think the stuff of misery (snow and cold), but I would have you consider what he has to say about the activity of "play."  Dorworth makes explicit the distinction between skiing and the ski business and I think it's one that Porsche lovers might find useful.  He notes that the ski business is about making money, advancing technology, tracking demographics, proper placement in marketing segments and many other things that concern those in capitalizing the activity and regulating its practice in competition and instruction.

But you would sorely miss the point if you confused the business with the activity of skiing itself, a form of pure play. Play ignores common-ness  and emerges in the pure feeling of ego-less performance, occasionally in solitude, often in the company of great friends. Sometimes in the challenge of great danger and adventure, but more often in familiar surroundings that allow for relaxation, simple enjoyment and camaraderie. Skiing, he says, is an activity of joy. People do it because it makes them happy. In the end, that is its one and only justification.

I claim the same from driving and owning a Porsche. As in the world of skiing, there are those who may never know the difference between the business (building value and status, meeting the demand of the bottom line, developing, marketing, and purchasing merchandise) and simply using and experiencing the car in pursuit of extending performance.

We know the world of Porsche as Dorworth understands the world of skiing. Not for social and economic power, not for status, but as an escape from drudgery and an encounter with joy. Whether you're a track-junkie, a concours-nut, enjoy the occasional driving tour, or just like the sound of it, you feel something special when you start a Porsche engine, engage gears, and release the brake. Driving a Porsche is not so much about getting someplace, but about enjoying the experience, about finding joy, and experiencing happiness, and building a cadre of friends whose lives share in a similar quest.  We understand and enjoy the development of technology, but enjoy the old ones as much as the new ones. Porsche Club people love the cars not because our ego's fulfillment depends on a certain symbol of wealth and success, but because the visceral feeling of precision, direction, and performance awake something primal, original, and warm. No, not the cliche of animal aggression as "outside" journalists blather on about. Something else. Something that everyone searches for and few achieve: ineffable, primordial joy.

I thank my friend for such a beautifully written reminder and I look forward to sharing that experience with you at an event in the coming year.

I hope to see you at one of the events.

Sean

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