Learning the unnatural at Porsche's Camp4 winter driving school Page 2

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Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Slalom

Next on the Camp4 journey was the slalom course, but unlike other slaloms, Pierre wants the 911 4S to swing its rear end like a pendulum around the cones before drifting around a corner at the end of the slalom. The course also includes a downhill portion, and an uphill section that has another corner. Hit a cone and you owe him a beer.

To accomplish Pierre's pendulum technique, I gathered speed, turned the steering wheel as I approached each cone, hit the brakes to kick out the rear end, turned the steering wheel the other way, and then hit the throttle. I did this over and over again until reaching the corner at the end of the slalom course, then drove down the hill, slid around another corner, then approached the cones again.

This Minnesota boy didn’t owe Pierre a beer, instead cheers came through the radio as the silver 911 4S slid back and forth through the cones like a metronome setting the rate at which the symphony will play.

Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Scandanavian Flick

The Scandinavian Flick is an exercise in performing the uncomfortable and completely unnatural with a rear-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S. The idea is to get the car to rotate quickly around a 90-degree turn. Pierre cracked on the radio, “Hit it! Mash the throttle. Faster! Faster! Now, turn, brake, flick the steering wheel, throttle, countersteer.”

Let's break that down. To take a right turn, you turn left, jab the brake hard, flick the steering wheel right and back again, hit the throttle, get into a nice drift, and countersteer.

I tried that and failed.

The reason was simple: Braking while turning is so unnatural to me, the wiring in my brain overrode Pierre’s instructions and I braked before turning. He reprimanded me on the radio and I did it again, and again. Each time my brain prevented me from doing as I was instructed.

Prior to the second to final run, Pierre walked up to the car, said nothing, moved the position of my seat, slammed the door shut, and said “Go!” as he pointed down the track. While I thought doing it again was pointless, I did as instructed, but this time, I aced the course. The car performed a Scandinavian Flick flawlessly as it drifted around the 90-degree turn. Why? Because Pierre’s seat adjustment changed my steering input angle, allowing me to turn the wheels farther than before. That, and he screamed at me over the radio to not brake before turning.

Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Braking

Finally came the braking exercise in a rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S. Once again I was instructed to turn, brake, and accelerate, only this time it was to induce oversteer around a half circle. Once again, my brain’s wiring refused to want to turn then brake, making it hard to flick the rear end out as instructed. However, oversteering wasn’t an issue as I drifted around the half circle once the tail was loose thanks to judicious use of the throttle. That use of throttle was much to the chagrin of Pierre as I was supposed to be shifting the car’s weight by turning and then applying the brakes, not throttling my way into a drift.

Porsche Camp4 2018

Porsche Camp4 2018

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Before it was time to go home the instructors (all professional drivers with colorful histories in racing at places like Le Mans) hopped into the 911s to give the students a snow and ice hot lap we wouldn’t soon forget. The squeamish might need to pass on this experience; it’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun for those who appreciate watching a great driver make a car dance.

After a full day experiencing Porsche’s Camp4, it’s clear it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your experience; it’s hard to relearn ingrained techniques to achieve the best car control on snow and ice. That doesn’t matter, though, because the team at Camp4 can help anyone learn some fun and useful techniques...even this sometimes thick-headed Minnesota boy sometimes known as Yo-el.


 
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