by Jack Safrit, CEO, Axxys Technologies, Inc.
We all probably have some type of bucket lists we hope to accomplish someday. Well, last week I was able to complete one of the items on my list for 2016.
Let me state some facts first.
- I have a huge interest in cars – mostly fast and new German cars.
- I love the opportunity to mesh technology with automobiles – not autonomous driving, though. Frankly I like to be in charge while in a car.
- I admire quality and I value customer service.
- I own a Porsche so the obvious bucket list item was to attend the Porsche Sports Driving School.
- So putting aside the urge to procrastinate and never get to this item on my list, in October, I sat down at my desk, confirmed dates on line, and schedule a two-day class at the Porsche Sports Driving School (PSDS) in Birmingham, Alabama.
Wow, what an experience! The school is held at the Barber Motorsport Park just outside Birmingham. If you know a little about cars and racing, your first thought turns to the Skip Barber driving schools. No relations. George Barber was a local businessman with an interest in racing. Once that interest grew into a passion he sought to create a collection of race cars. A friend suggested he should look into collecting motorcycles because he could more easily create the largest collection of motorcycles in the world. And that he has done. With over 1,600 motorcycles owned and 600+ displayed daily, the Barber Motorsport Museum is presently doubling in size to accommodate a display of even more of the record setting collection.
In 2003, a race track opened and soon after his museum was moved to the track property. The track itself is 2.38 miles long with 16 corners and significant elevation changes as you navigate the course. The track hosts an annual Indy Car race, regular track days, and several motorcycle races. Manufacturers also use the location as a proving ground for their products. The PSDS is the track’s largest vendor, reserving about 150 days per year for their activities.
Excellent Customer Service
Upon arrival, PSDS had arranged for transportation to small, 5 star boutique hotel accommodations for the driving students. Rumor has it that the hotel owner was invited to attend a class, and as a result of his experience developed a business relationship with the school that now includes a Panamera Turbo being used as the hotels courtesy car. In the morning, my class of 30 drivers were picked up and transported by a bevy of Porsches to the track, greeted by the instructors, fed breakfast, and then right into a short classroom session. From start to finish the entire PSDS staff was informative, engaged with the students, and exhibited absolute enthusiasm for the wisdom they were going to share with us.
The Driving Experience
PSDS is a school after all so students are taught skills that work on a race track and can transition to everyday driving. Sessions included controlled driving on a short autocross track set up in a parking lot, the fun of attempting to drive on a very wet and slick skid pad, and too many fast laps on the actual track were all part of the two-day agenda. Most of the time we were in the vehicles by ourselves, with instructors driving in a lead car. Porsche provided 2017 models of their Carrera S, Turbo S, 718 and Boxster for our experience vehicles, as well as a short off-road session in a Cayenne.
The overall experience was excellent. The racing staff could not have been more accommodating, and the driving was beyond compare. While Porsches are excellent daily use cars, their craftsmanship and technology on the race track, without any additional customizations, makes you appreciate the quality of design and workmanship that goes into all their vehicles.
So another item is now off the bucket list. Oh no! I think I will need to add the Masters Course option at PSDS to the list. Thanks for reading.