My wife and I flew to Atlanta at the beginning of May to visit my family. While we were in town, to mark my and my dad's birthdays, I booked a driving experience at the Porsche Experience Center (PEC) Atlanta for the two of us.
Porsche opened the PEC in May of 2015, a huge $100m complex that serves a variety of functions. Upstairs it's the North American corporate headquarters; underneath you'll find an exhibition space, the Classic Factory Restoration workshop, an area for new car deliveries, Restaurant 356, simulators, gift shop, Porsche Exclusive design studio. And most importantly, the Driving Experience Center, a track complex for dummies like me to drive fast in a safe environment with quality instruction.
The PEC is right at the eastern end of the Atlanta airport's northern runways, and I've gazed down longingly every time we've flown in. I've been on the website multiple times but have never pulled the trigger for two main reasons. First is that the program is not a full-blown driving school (like the RS Adrenaline academy, or the BMW programs at Thermal), but rather a 90-minute experience. Which is fine, except when you consider the second factor - the cost. Double the pain when I'm treating two of us for our birthdays.
Porsche offers driving experiences in almost every car that they sell. They also offer some special programs to compare different driving experiences back-to-back: GT3 vs. Turbo, mid-engine vs rear-engine, 2wd vs. 4wd. Dad and I deliberated for quite some time on which program to choose, but eventually settled on the Carrera S. I was most interested in those classic rear-engine dynamics, something I've not experienced before. It was hard to resist the allure of the GT3 experience, but the price tag ($1000 vs $600 for the C2S) helped check my temptation. You can check out the programs for yourself here.
Dad booked lunch for us at noon at Restaurant 356, so we arrived a couple of minutes early to park up and get the lay of the land. The parking deck was almost completely Porsches, employee leases mixed with press cars. Immediately I spotted this colorful corner. Lightning was challenging and we needed to get upstairs, so I apologize for the quality. My first time seeing the amazing GT4RS, the wheels are very blue in person and I appreciate it.
Lunch was excellent. The food was delicious and I had to box the truly enormous schnitzel so there wouldn't be any problems when we hit the track. We took our time and wrapped up in about an hour, which gave us another hour to explore the facility. I ran through the list of amenities already so I'll let you check out the photos.
In the exhibition hall they were showing the Colors of Porsche collection, an assembly of cars made with that most holy of Porsche designations: Paint To Sample (PTS). I'll let you match up colors to names but on display were:
- Nardo Grey
- Tahoe Blue
- Azzuro California
- Fern Green
- Fire Red
- Pastel Orange
- Nordic Gold Metallic
- Ice Green Metallic
- Handling course (outer perimeter of the whole driving area, ~0.8 miles)
- Acceleration/braking/slalom area
- Low-friction, wet "kicker" exercise
- Low-friction, wet skidpad
- Low-friction handling course (dry polished concrete)