ALMS Porscheplatz - May 11-12, 2012

mike hinton headshot 2011

by Mike Hinton, Redwood Region Secretary

You may recall that Porsche sponsored a Porscheplatz at the American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (got to be sure to use the official name, or else!) on May 11-12. Besides being able to avoid the exorbitant cost of water and soft drinks at the track, the Porscheplatz gave attendees the opportunity to meet with some of the teams and suppliers participating in the event. More importantly, we also got to participate in a parade lap of the circuit. 

I had participated in a parade lap years ago on my BMW K75 motorcycle, and remembered it as a low-key, low-speed tour of the track. Nevertheless, we signed up. At one point, it looked like we wouldn't get to go on the track at all, due to lengthy caution periods in one of the previous races, but finally, we drove slowly onto the track. My initial reaction was, 

"Wow, this track is NARROW!" 

can only imagine what it would look like at speed, surrounded by other cars. 

Just as we started off, a CHP officer on a motorcycle pulled directly in front of us, and began to lead us on our lap. I thought well, this is going to be boring. How wrong I was! Our CHP escort, who we later discovered has participated in many such parade laps, started off slowly enough, and I made sure not to crowd him. Suddenly, as we approached the top of the hill at Turn 7, just before the infamous "Corkscrew", he accelerated and vanished from our view! Obviously, we had to speed up to catch him, so we had a very entertaining ride down through the Corkscrew and almost up to Turn 9.  We definitely put a little bit of heat into the tires as we caught up with the pack. Our good fortune continued when the escort accelerated away again after Turn 11, which meant we got a high-speed run down the main straight, which contains a nice, blind approach to Turn 2. 

As we slowed to get back off the track, we had a brief conversation with the officer, and thanked him for escorting us. He replied, "I wanted to make sure you had a good time!" We did! The moral of this story is to take any opportunity you get to drive your car on a racetrack. You never know what might happen!

CHP Officer and Safety Car