João Silva

Everybody has their own way of loving Porsches. Mine? Track days!

From the start, Porsches were designed to be sports cars that you can use daily. That means they’re built to play rough and to be driven fast aggressive. They aren’t the best sports cars in the world or make the best daily drivers, but when it comes to enjoying two different sides of the moon, they can’t be beat. The 911, Boxster, Cayenne…all of them share this DNA from the first sketch.

So after getting my first Porsche, a 944 NA, and bringing it back to life, I began getting serious about looking for what would be my first track day experience. As it happened, the local Porsche Club was planning one. What better place to make our debut than being surrendered by all his family?
I wasn’t prepared.

The only racing experience I had was in the virtual world; driving simulators don’t really qualify as an all-out experience, does it? But here I was. With any luck, a partner would accompany me in the passenger seat to watch my form and help improve my technique…and bring a fire extinguisher; just in case. A few minutes before going out in to the circuit, an experienced instructor volunteered to ride shotgun—BRAVE MAN!!!! 
Determination, loads of passion, and enthusiasm make up for my lack of driving skills; no problem, the latter can be learned. Well, at least I have the right ingredients; the latin approach to driving! We believe, have faith, you know? But we don’t calculate – maybe this explains way so many have died! Since then, every time I get on the track, my new co-driver is always invited with all expenses covered; that means lunch!   

"It’s amazing how a 31 year old car, all stock, could handle all my mistakes while being pushed near its limits."

I thought it was easy, it isn’t. The mindset has to be totally different, retrained almost. When to shift, when to downshift, braking hard and at the same time conserving the brakes, abusing the tires but realizing they aren’t suited for racing, looking for other cars, listening to the co-driver…you get the idea. But in the end, after what seems like a crash course, the experience is incredible! It’s amazing how a 31 year old car, all stock, could handle all my mistakes while being pushed near its limits. It’s only a 20/25 minute drive and a few laps but everything made sense — I wanted more! Track days are like hunting or fishing …the stories about the experience tend to be overly embellished sounding a little more exciting than they really were. 
I went to other track days, not always with my car, sometimes just to watch, sometimes as a co-driver (ai,ai,ai!!!) and every single time was a blast! Now I’m looking towards broadening my horizon by looking to try different tracks, and make small modifications to the 944 like steel brake hoses and possibly a proper set of tyres.

I look at a track day as running against myself. Each lap finds me pushing not only my limits, but also getting to know the 944’s capabilities, and honoring the people who designed and built it.  I must admit, I have this selfish habit of going to the track to watch the others from a safe distance observing their techniques; a lot can be learned this way.

It’s like living this legendary life, kind of like a Portuguese James Dean…yes, yes; I like the sound of that! 
In a grander sense, the people are great, the cars are great…but the food sucks! There should be a fine for that! “I’m sorry Sir, but you’ve violated every culinary law known to man by serving this slop!”    

Now that I’m more experienced and confident, I can have family and friends as co-drivers. The first will be my father; sharing an experience of a lifetime with him has special meaning to me…a brand new set of Toyo R888 will help for sure.

What’ll I do on my off days, then, if not scrubbing rubber ‘round the turns? I can just enjoy them; take the kids to the park, fetch groceries, take a drive with my wife, attend Porsche gatherings, Classic Car events; any excuse to hop in the 944 and get to know it that much better.

So go on and enjoy your car…and do it however you please! 
 


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