The first thing I notice is the grip. I’m not used to experiencing the road like this. How does it feel? I am so connected to the asphalt beneath me as I accelerate and brake, taking turn after turn on the track. And I am doing it all with a huge perma-grin on my face. It all started after I was invited to take part of a media day offered by Porsche Canada to try out their Track Experience.
This was definitely a cross-it-off-your-bucket-list kind of day. Arriving at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, I was greeted by a perfect blue sky and rows of Porsches glistening in the morning light.
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Usually it’s an all-day affair on the track. But on this day Porsche Canada has shaken it up a bit. Myself and six other journalists will be spending the morning portion of the day driving down beautiful country roads and on the highway.
We have the choice of either trying out the 911 Carrera S, the new 911 Carrera 4S, and a few SUV’s, including the Macan turbo or Cayenne S.
High performance Carrera 911 S
I opt for the 911 Carrera S, and it’s pure bliss. All the controls are easily accessible and the interior is laid out with only the finest finishes. Every detail says this is a high-performance vehicle. But what gets me is the acceleration. I barely tap on the gas and the car reaches speed with ease, while pushing me firmly back in the seat. This is going to be fun day!
Robert Klint with one of the Porsche cars
Our Porsche Canada guide Pierre keeps the group together in the lead car. Over the radio he details the attributes of each Porsche and what you can do with it. We are encouraged to toggle between “normal” and “sport” mode. We shift gears on the steering wheel paddles. Everything is so smooth and responsive it’s an immediate dopamine rush of joy.
It’s a hot day, but I turn off the AC and roll the windows down. All the better to feel the rush of the wind as I effortlessly accelerate, watching the landscape fly by.
After a catered lunch, the main event takes place in the afternoon. Track time! We have three car options to choose from — the 911 Carrera S, the 911 Carrera 4S, and the new all-electric Taycan. Helmets in hand, we head to the Driver Development Track.
Technique over speed
Keith, our track instructor, gives us some safety tips along with one crucial piece of advice. “It’s not about speed, it’s about technique,” he says. He also stresses the importance of avoiding tunnel vision. Plus, making sure we constantly look ahead to where we want the car to go.
I jump into the Taycan, and it’s an absolute stunner of a car. The interior is beautifully laid out, all the controls are very intuitive. The car is whisper quiet.
Without the roar of the engine though, at first it’s hard to gauge how quickly I’m going. But all I have to do is look down at the speedometer. This car is fast!
For the rest of the afternoon, though, I opt to drive the 911 Carrera 4S. I can’t get enough. Lap after lap I feel more connected to the car, sensing what it can do and how I can really get the most out of it. It’s a precision instrument that responds to every nuance perfectly.
Braking the right way makes you go faster
As we follow the lead car, we’re given helpful tips to improve our driving skills. Over the radio we’re told to aim for the perfect racing line. Concentrate on the entry to the curve, we are told, hitting the apex just right, and accelerating through the exit. Different coloured cones are strategically laid out on the track so we have an immediate visual reference. We need to focus on making sure we maximize our speed throughout the course.
On the straightaways it’s hard on the gas pedal, and hard on the brakes when hitting a turn. It’s another tip we get, the importance of braking at the right time.
At first it seems counterintuitive, but proper braking actually makes you go faster. It means you hit the apex just right so you can truly gain speed coming out of your exit line.
I opt to not use the paddle shifters on the track. The Carrera’s 7-speed PDK transmission makes it so easy on automatic mode. The gears shift and accelerate smoothly and quickly in fractions of a second. It really frees you up to enjoy the ride and concentrate on hitting the racing lines just right.
After a full afternoon of driving, I feel like my skills have really improved. I’ve learned how to finesse the car through the turns and straightaways of the track. The feeling of pure exhilaration is still coursing through my whole body as I step out of the car for the last time.
The Track Experience is well worth it. Porsche Canada offers three course levels (Precision, Performance, Master) through which you can progress. And ultimately move on to the Grand Prix race track, where you can really test your mettle. They are all very popular and sell out quickly. So it’s a good idea to register early.
Through it all, the Porsche pedigree really shines through. The instructors are first-rate. The cars are top notch, and you get an opportunity to push yourself and the car to the limit. This is one of those days I’ll always remember with crystal clear detail. And the adrenaline rush can’t be beat. Now if only I can convince my wife that it’s a priority that we purchase a 911.
Porsche Track Experience Courses
The PRECISION course from Porsche Canada is for first-time participants, and you are taught how to handle the car and basic car safety. It’s a one-day course, and the cost is
$1,695 /per person + taxes.
The PERFORMANCE course lasts two days, and is a natural progression from the previous one. Here you really get a chance to learn more about how to further improve your control over the vehicle. On the 2nd day, you graduate to the Grand Prix track. Very cool! The cost is $3,795 / per person + taxes.