Porsche’s massive 20-hectare Experience Center in Carson, California has been open for just over a year now (November 11th was the official anniversary), and Porsche hasn’t stopped celebrating since. It’s a truly awe inspiring facility with off road, race track, and slick surface training courses available, much like the Atlanta campus.
We’ve visited both Experience Centers in the past, but on Tuesday we were given the unique experience to attend an event co-hosted by Porsche and Rolling Stone magazine, an event they called “Engine Notes”, consisting of a unique combination of performance hybrid Porsches and good, old-fashioned Rock & Roll. It was a whole lot of fun, and it happened really quickly, so here’s how the event went through our eyes.
I didn’t know what to expect of the event, but I’d heard rumor that we’d be afforded laps of the track in current Porsche models. I made a bee-line for the back of the building, and seconds later I found my way outside to check out the situation. I was immediately swept into the passenger seat of the nearest waiting Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, and by luck of lucks it was the ultra quick professional drifter Dai Yoshihara behind the wheel. Even though the Panamera is quite a large car, we managed to find nearly 90 miles per hour on the speedometer, and the performance felt impressive from the right seat. Dai was an excellent driver, holding a calm conversation while hustling the car at 9/10ths, it was truly a memorable experience. Just watch how smooth he is in the video above.
Following my ride-along, I walked back into the building and made a quick lap of the facility shaking hands with other attendees and folks I recognized (John Benton, Jeff Zwart, etc.), grabbing an hors d’oeuvre or two along the way. There were a few other awesome Porsches inside the lobby. Porsche was promoting their hybrid tech, and had a gorgeous Riviera Blue 918 Spyder, a 919 Hybrid LMP1 show car, a new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, and a current generation Cayenne E-Hybrid on display. In the motorsport workshop were a few more awesome cars from Porsche’s history, including a pair of 911 GT1s, an Indycar, an RS Spyder LMP2, one of the Dakar 959s, Sally Carrera from the Cars movie, and a 917/30 mid-restoration. These Porsches didn’t play into the narrative of the event, they were just what the workshop was working on at the moment.
Let The Show Begin
Before I knew it, the show was ready to begin. Outside, next to the race track, Porsche had assembled a stage for the band to entertain from. The band, called Royal Machines, was an amalgam of popular ’80s and ’90s rockers, including Dave Navarro (Red Hot Chili Peppers & Janes Addiction), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), and Billy Morrison (The Cult & Billy Idol). They played a wide variety of songs, mostly high quality covers, and a few songs made popular by their former bands. During a few of the songs, Porsche sent a some of their Panameras out on track to shoot some action shots, which was cut-in and displayed on the screen behind the band. After a dozen songs or so, the show paused for a moment to get a few things set up.
Two of the Panameras had this strange apparatus hooked up to the back where the spoiler would normally be. Each of these display boards were used as graphic equalizers during a song with one Porsche’s display in green and the other in red. Porsche was shooting a promotional video that should debut shortly (check back soon, as we’ll post it as soon as Porsche sends it along). When the lights came back up, the band played a surprisingly faithful rendition of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and the Panameras shot off onto the track, one lit up in green, the other lit up in red.
Each of these two “hero” Panameras had been prepared with gaff tape to cover exterior lamps, including the tail lights, front side markers, and daytime running lights. Each had also received vinyl overlays over their headlamps, again one in green and the other in red. A three minute exhibition of driver talent, including tandem drifts around the low-grip surface skid pad, a kick-plate spin for each Porsche, and a one-on-one touge-style chase around the circuit.
And with a flash it was all over
The band concluded, the Porsches were parked, and ignition keys were handed in. Another few minutes of mingling and we were shuffled outside to the valet stand to head out for the night. This event was short and sweet, just three hours from beginning to end, but it’s one we won’t soon forget.
Thanks to Porsche and Rolling Stone for inviting us to be a part of this.