PCA High Performance Driver Education (HPDE)
Porsche by design and intent are the best perfoming cars in their class and have been the sports car benchmark since the 50s. That doesn't mean it is a tempermental racecar that will break if driven hard. It is typical that a stock Porsche is driven to an HPDE, driven all weekend on track and driven home, then to work the next day. Then repeat next month without trips to the mechanic. They are consistently reliable on street or track. The other unique quality is they are fast, but also stable and confidence inspiring to drive.
Want to learn how to drive your Porsche the way it was designed to be driven? PCA High Performance Driver Education provides a safe environment to do just that. These events are held about 7-10 times per year at venues in Florida by regions within Zone 12. You can also find track events every weekend somewhere in the US run by a PCA region. PCA’s differentiator is it focuses exclusively on Porsche owners with an emphasis on education and safety. PCA HPDE is driving school, intent on increasing the skill of the owner to be closer to the capability of these wonderful cars. Events are held throughout the US and sponsored by PCA regions.
In our region and many others, HPDE schedules are posted on ClubRegistration.net and Porsche club members can enter events there. You will need a few things to attend your first event. For the Driver, clothes must be natural fiber and some tracks require long sleeves and long pants. A Snell approved SA2015 (not M) or newer helmet is required and no loaners are available. Cars must be in safe operating condition, with minimum requirements for tire tread depth and brake surfaces. A technical inspection checklist form is available on ClubRegistration.net which covers all safety aspects and must be filled out by a "qualified person" which can be a dealer or independent certified technician or region member. A free technical inspection is often offered by Porsche dealerships and many independent Porsche only service/tuner shops.
If you have read this far, great! Here is more detail of what HPDE is all about, adapted from Wikipedia or you can contact
Ken Marshall Ken@Gloveroil.com or
Carmen DeVito Devito997@gmail.com
our HPDE event chairs for more information.
What is HPDE?
PCA High Performance Driver Education (HPDE) events are non competitive, untimed, driving schools held on dedicated race tracks designed to teach Porsche owners proper high speed driving techniques. In Zone 12 we are lucky to have 3 excellent venues to drive (Daytona, Sebring, Homestead). Events are usually scheduled at one venue spanning a single weekend. The number of entrants for a track weekend can range from 120 to 250 cars and people will travel from almost anywhere in the US to attend our more famous tracks. Most cars are not dedicated track cars but are street legal daily drivers or occasional weekend cars.
Participants include both students and instructors. Students are grouped according to their ability and experience, with “Green Novice Group” students being the least experienced, “Blue Advanced Intermediate Group” being more experienced. There are three solo groups, “White Solo” is the lowest level not requiring an instructor ride along. The remaining two “Advanced Solo Groups” are comprised of advanced solo drivers and instructors being the most experienced.
Advancement to higher levels including becoming an Instructor is solely dependent on the student’s demonstrated ability and desire to improve. “Seat time” or time on track is the best learning tool to develop the muscle memory required for ultimate proficiency. For Green and Blue run groups on track experience is augmented with mandatory classroom instruction, to introduce high speed driving principles, optimum track driving line and allows peer-group discussions of driving techniques, preconceptions, myths, and event logistics.
HPDE events are not timed and not racing. There is no trophy for fastest time. Cars on-track operate under strict “rules of engagement” which minimize the likelihood of running off track or contact with other cars. For all student groups passing must be started and completed only within defined “passing zones”, and then only with clear hand signals from the car being passed and instructor confirmation.
We encourage participants to drive within their ability and improve their car-control skills with each event. Instructors and student work as a team on track to drive safely and find areas to improve the students driving skills. Off track they discuss how and where the student should focus to improve during the next session. Instructors and staff evaluate each student’s progress throughout the weekend and make recommendations on the student’s advancement through successively higher skilled driver groups. It is extremely important for Novice drivers to learn the basic safety measures of the sport first such as entering the track, flags, corner worker functions, and emergency procedures. It is also important to master basic car control skills and the racing line before worrying about how fast you are going.
Some basic things for all novice drivers to learn include:
Proper seat and hand position
Straight line braking
Turn in point
Track out point
Oversteer and Understeer
Common misconceptions include this is hard on your car, you will have an accident, and this is for racers. Driving your car on track is like driving on the road in that it will burn fuel, wear your tires and brakes. As you progress and drive faster it will do that at a faster rate, but it will not hurt your car. Porsches were designed to drive fast. If you listen to your PCA instructor and drive within your skill it is very safe. Although I have not seen statistics, it may be safer than driving down I95. Finally, we are not racers and don’t want to be. We enjoy driving our cars well and having fun. You can even request a Space Coast PCA instructor to make your first experience more comfortable. Some of them are:
David O’ Neal
To reiterate, HPDE driving events are a safe, fun way to get to understand the incredible performance dynamics of your Porsche, improve your driving skills, and meet and enjoy a great bunch of like-minded new friends!
Follow the links below for videos of HPDE sessions held at Sebring International.
- A lap around Sebring with Jim Pace 12hr of Sebring winner in a 1974 3.0L RSR racecar. Note not a typical HPDE driver!
- A lap around Sebring following the Queen Bee (2015 Cayman S/GT4) in a 2007 997Turbo
- A few Laps of Sebring in 2019 GT3RS street car
- A lap of Sebring in Instructor group in 2019 GT3RS
- A few laps at Daytona in a 2015 GT3 street car
- A short instructional driving video for Sebring
See you at the track!