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Zone Rep Report June 2011

Sean CridlandIn the Zone by Sean Cridland

Last month I wrote about the various Regions of Zone 9 and all the great events you might enjoy if you were to travel around our great expanse of territory and the great people you might meet. So this month I'm taking a little different approach and looking at the kinds of events you might take advantage of right in your own "back yard." Each of the Regions of Zone 9 has their own specialties, but most of our Regions offer a good smattering of events to choose from. Most likely, you find one activity that you enjoy more than the rest, but if you're looking for variety, there's almost always something new to try.

Since we make the claim that "it's not just the cars, but the people" let's start with the social events. When Sandra and I first joined PCA we didn't know anyone. I purchased the car in Boulder in fall 2003, then we moved to New Mexico. We joined PCA specifically to meet people. Our first event was the Zone 9 banquet put on by the Roadrunners at Little Anita's in Albuquerque. Success! We sat with a group of people who were very open and kind to us and remain good friends to this day. They told us about all the fun they have with their cars, experiences they've had traveling around to different events and, especially important, were open and inviting when it came to including us in future events and personal connections. All of the Regions of Zone 9 are good at putting on social events and it's the one kind of event where everyone can participate fully and equally. it's just fun to get out with other people with a similar interest, swap stories, and get to know each other.

Tours take the social experience to the next level. In my home Region we do drive-outs, which are generally no more than just a full day, with a stop somewhere for lunch before heading home. Driving a Porsche is already fun. You know that. But driving with a group is a great experience too. On my first tour, I drove near the back and it was really fun to watch the double, triple, quadruple and more takes as the group of 25 or so Porsches drove by in a line. A good tour organizer will always plan a lunch near some interesting spot with some tasty food and allow time for people to have a nice meal, partake in good conversation, and do a little shopping. Some of our Regions are particularly good at two and three day tours that visit a variety of locations and stay in some fun places. Again, it's a great way to exercise your Porsche-driving skills, see some new country, and have fun with your significant other and with a great group of fun people.

My home Region is well-known for its autocross events. And I have to say I got sucked in early. My second-ever PCA event was a parking lot autocross and I was hooked in immediately. What I can say. I'm an old ski racer and I love those kinds of challenges. Autocross is a great way to really learn about your driving without having to spend thousands of dollars on a school or fancy equipment. Of course we all consider ourselves to be good drivers, but it's amazing what happens when you're in the company of other experienced drivers and the timer goes on. It's often hard to admit, but the clock doesn't lie. I've learned a great deal about driving my car on autocross courses where speeds of 30 to 50 mph in tight spaces magnify all kinds of bad habits and reward sharpened skills. It's one of those activities that can be kept very basic with stock settings and street tires or taken to extremes with lightened and lowered chassis, sticky tires, and trick suspension set-ups. Whatever level you decide on, there's a class for everyone and it's another fun way to get to know your fellow club members.

Not as popular now as in the past, but still a great challenge are Rallies. Counter to what most people think when watching WRC on TV, PCA rallies don't include flying leaps over jumps in the forest or sideways drives near 1000 foot desert precipices. PCA rallies can be either TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) which are measured very carefully to challenge teams for driving and navigation skills, or they can be fun "gimmick" rallies that include visits to fun places or fun challenges or puzzles. These days more people seem to be doing gimmick rallies, but there is still a strong cadre of TSD rallyists who appear each year at Parade. Again, the activity is fun, but so are the interactions you have with other people along the way.

Some people who enjoy driving their Porsches at speed, like to go a bit faster than autocrossing speed and the PCA High Performance Drivers Education program allows us to do that in a controlled environment. HPDE --  more commonly known as DE -- takes place on a closed race-course with a complement of safety equipment and a staff of event and safety marshals to ensure that people have prepared themselves and their cars properly and are outfitted with the required safety equipment. Regions offer loaner helmets to beginners and require novices to attend "chalk-talks" and ride with instructors to learn driving basics and track etiquette. But it all adds up to a very satisfying experience when you drive your well-engineered Porsche vehicle in the way  it was designed to go. DE's are specifically non-competitive, so you're not racing against anyone. It's just a fun way to experience and appreciate your car at speed with a great group of people in a relatively safe environment.

For those who want to take it all to the next level, there's PCA Club Racing. PCA offers a great schedule of races around the country with very specific classing for Porsche drivers who want to go head to head on the track. Run with "gentleman's rules," contact and overly aggressive driving is highly discouraged in order to keep things safe and to minimize wear and tear on equipment. Club Racing is very well organized and provides a great venue for those who want to satisfy their competitive urges at many of the same tracks you'll see the pros racing at on TV. There are many PCAers who travel this circuit on varying levels of economic commitment and are a very accommodating and tight-knit group. I've witnessed racers helping each other late in the night to fix one problem or another or sharing parts to insure that everyone will be able to participate the next morning. It's not just about racing either. I've been to some really great social events at Club Races.

Last, but not least, many of us participate vicariously each month just by reading our Panorama. Often-times, just dreaming about someone's experience in writing and photos gets us excited that we can walk out of the house, turn the key and drive our own private example of the world's best car. Whatever your level of participation, I hope you have a fun summer of PCA fun ahead of you.

I hope to see you at one of the events.

Sean

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