Mother and Father,
Camp is going really well. All of the other campers are really cool, and the counselors are very nice. I’m learning a lot at camp, including throttle control, ice driving maneuvers, and methods of using your brakes to initiate oversteer. Porsche’s Camp4 at Mécaglisse is a whole lot of fun, and as much as I miss home, I sort of wish I could stay here forever. Tell my friend Project Boxster Clubsport that I miss her, but I’m learning all sorts of new games we can play together.
See you soon,
We were only invited to play at Porsche’s Camp 4 in Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, Quebec for a day, but aside from our trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, it was one of the most fun days of my life. A full bevy of Porsche sports cars equipped with Nokian studded winter tires and a number of open ice layered courses on which to drive them? How could that not be a fun time?
A little back story about myself, I grew up in Western Michigan, and a couple of times a month, during the seemingly endless winters, we experienced an evil something called “Lake Effect Snow”. After a decade of driving through these horrid winter conditions I thought I knew a good thing or two about driving in them. I’d experienced those snowy and icy winters in front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and 4-wheel drive vehicles, but after Camp4, I knew I’d never really known what I was doing, and that sort of scared me. If I don’t know how to properly work through some of these courses, what else don’t I know? Luckily, the instructors spent a whole day teaching me how little I actually know about winter performance driving, and let me have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Upon our arrival at the track for the day, everyone was split into different running groups, and we were all trotted out to different sections of the course in order to learn different disciplines of ice driving.
My group started with a full set of Carrera S rear-drivers on an iced skid pad. This test was to work on our ability to produce over-steer and keep the drift with careful throttle modulation. The exercise was performed with a pair of cars equally spaced around the circle, and tested all of our throttle-foot not to spin or straighten out of the slide. If you let off of the accelerator too much, the car will simply step back into line, as most rear wheel drive cars will. If you are a bit overzealous with your right foot, the back end will step completely around in a lazy spin. With all of this happening on ice, the speeds and thus danger are quite low, but the fun levels are kept sky high.
Round two saw our group stepping into the 991 C4S all-wheel drive cars for a lesson in brake initiated over-steer. This course involved a short chute of the circuit that was set up as an offset slalom. We were instructed to drive through the ‘gates’ of cones and turn the wheel to sort of set up for the next gate in the slalom, and then apply the brakes to get the pendulum effect of the rear engine to swing the back end around. This was, by far, the most difficult module of the day. It’s a very counter-intuitive process, and if you have the luxury to practice this until it becomes second nature, it could get you out of some pretty hairy situations.
In the third part of our day, a full course was opened up for us to lap at safe distances from each other in Caymans. The course had a long ‘pit straight’ that emptied down into an increasing radius downhill left hand hairpin, immediately rising into an off camber left at the top of the hill, where we were funneled down into a right hand curve with a narrow chute that opened up into a downhill set of chicanes. Following the chicanes, there is a 90 degree right out onto what is usually an ice figure eight course that we went up the right side of, drifted around the apex of the far circle, and then negotiated a right hand turn up and out of that section back on an upward sloping left sweeper and onto the front straight. That course was an absolute blast to negotiate, and put a few of our previously learned skills to the test.
We broke for lunch at that point, and of course I was not alone in asking the instructors if we could skip lunch in exchange for more seat time. My time at the camp was limited, and I wanted to get as much out of it as possible. After telling us that we could not do that, we all sat down for a beautifully prepared warm German meal of delicious beige foods. Stories among campers were told, and in general, everyone seemed to have the widest of smile on their faces. If you go to Camp4 and don’t have a good time, you’re probably dead inside.
After lunch, campers were herded back to the cars for one more lesson. Our group was again faced with a large open area set up with a slalom and a gorgeous black grouping of Carrera 4S’. This time, instead of brake instigated turns, we were instructed to negotiate the corners with a single blip of the throttle. Once we had ‘mastered’ [term used loosely] that skill, the real lesson began. We each had walkie-talkies in our cars, and when attempting to negotiate our slalom course, the instructor would give a command to upshift the PDK gearbox in the middle of a drift to help us understand how the lower revs of the engine would help get us out of a spin, and to help prepare us for being controlled under pressure. It sort of worked.
With some newly learned skills and a quick coffee break to warm up again, everything was put to one final test. While we were warming up, the instructors were changing the courses to link every bit of the track into one large course that we would all negotiate at moderate speeds, stopping after each lap to swap cars and feel the differences between mid-engine rear-wheel-drive, rear-engine rear-wheel-drive, and rear-engine four-wheel-drive. Unfortunately, that’s where the day ended. It was the most fun section, at least, and the course was set up in a very fun way that encouraged a little hooliganism.
We’ll be back with more stories from our trip throughout the week, so be sure to keep checking back to get more in-depth with Porsche’s Camp4.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
Watch What it Was Like to Participate in Porsche Camp4 Canada
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It’s Winter Time And In The World Of Porsche That Means It’s Time For Camp4
What it Was Like to Participate in The Porsche Winter Driving Experience at Sugarbush Resort, VT
Ice Drifting A Porsche 918 Spyder
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