Sep 22, 2011

Who's Better: You or Your Car?

Years ago ProFormance Racing School held an expensive, catered track event.  Kind of a blue chip drivers education an track day combines.  It was really expensive, but worth every penny.  I attended with my brother and his recently barn found Mustang SVO turbo. The attendees were group of wealthy enthusiasts so it included some really nice cars to admire: Ferraris, including a '85 GTO, various Porsches, Formula Fords, even a Lola showed up for a few 180+mph bursts down the track.  That Lola had a bumper sticker that said "I brake for Porsche's."  


Between sessions people would talk and listen to tales about each other's machines.  The Porsche C4 guy was pretty new to his late model Carrera having just bought it brand new, but he was experienced plenty at bragging.  He shot his mouth off about plans of getting licensed to race "door to door" after each session.  His car was fast for damn sure, but it didn't necessarily mean he was fast.   Then, at the top of turn 5-A, where the hill flattens out and the suspension unloads (like we were all taught about), he came in with way too much speed.  His tires weren't even touching the ground much when he attempted to turn .  You guessed it, even AWD and dynamic handling control cannot fight physics in the end. That Porsche spun off the track, rolling ass backwards into the trees. 

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Photo courtesy http://www.rsamerica.net/ (not an image from the story at all, just a as backwards collision example).   This particular car is an RS America and is devoid of handling control or AWD.


The Porsche C4 guy didn't sound so cool talking on the phone with his wife while the tow truck loaded up his mangled Carrera.


My theory is: his car was good but he wasn't.  All that electronic stuff like traction control, ABS and dynamic stability control allowed him to increase his speed way beyond his ability.  Stupidity and arrogance took care of the rest.  Once he reached the limit of those electronic nannies, trouble came fast. The magnitude of his crash was proportional to his velocity which translated into a totaled car, I'm sure. Those computerized baby sitters prevented him from learning the "limit" until he found a new one! Understanding the limits of both himself and the Carrera without electronic assistance might have been a good idea.  They are made to work behind the scenes so you don't notice them but they are there, so don't get a big head.


I'm sure C4 guy might agree.



I can recall making quite an ass of myself during that event myelf also.
I had gleefully blown past this 288 Ferrari GTO and then immediately spun off the track.
 No damage, exept my pride  Later instructors would use me as an example of stupid moves.

Naturally, this leads to another important question… "What is your technology cut-off?  After all, not everyone wants a car that's smarter than them.

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