The new Porsche West Coast Experience Center set to open in Carson, California should be hard to miss. That's because Porsche has restored the massive Muffler Man statue off the 405 freeway to serve as a gatekeeper. The statue now wears a Porsche racing suit and holds a checkered flag.

The statue is one of many fiberglass behemoths that began popping up across the country in the early 1960s as roadside advertising gimmicks. They usually held mufflers, tires, and other items roadside businesses were trying to sell; hence the name Muffler Man.

Car enthusiasts will probably be making a bee line for the Porsche Experience Center when it opens in the fourth quarter of 2014, giant statue or otherwise. The facility will feature a test track, handling course, and off-road area, and surfaces that can replicate wet, icy, or snowy roads. Driving instruction programs will be offered for Porsche owners, and fans willing to pay a tuition fee.

Porsche envisions the Experience Center as a vacation destination, hence its location near Los Angeles International Airport.

Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), currently located in Santa Ana, California, will also move its operations to the West Coast Experience Center. PMNA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, and is the sole sales, service, and parts provider for Porsche's customer racing programs in North America.

The West Coast Experience Center will also be home to the Porsche Human Performance Center, a fitness training facility for racing drivers.

Porsche plans to open a second North American Experience Center near its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. What will the company get to decorate the entrance of that facility?


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