ALMS Porscheplatz - May 11-12, 2012
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!