I had a fun day on my day off yesterday. Our local Mercedes dealer, which also sells Infiniti, Maserati, and Porsche, had a driving school day. You got to hop into a Boxster or Cayman with a driving instructor and flog it around a tight little course laid out in their stock lot with white lines and cones. After a couple of laps, you switched places with the instructor, who then demonstrated how it's really done.
The dealer is Mercedes-Benz of Elmbrook, which is now located in Waukesha, not Elmbrook. (I assume the name will be changing once the new location is established. Although the Lakers are still named for Minnesota lake country.) It's a division of International Autos.
I drove a Boxster a bit sloppily (never drove one before, never drove their cones before) but, if I do say so myself, quite quickly. At least quite a bit more quickly than most of the other participants were managing. Then Cass Whitehead took the wheel and showed me the difference between real race drivers and guys like me who normally drive like they have their free arm draped across the top of the passenger seat. As Cass said, "It's like go-karts, only with a car." He'd been doing it all day—in fact, in his role as Lead Instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber Motorsport Park in Leeds, Alabama, he does it year-in, year-out—but he didn't seem bored. He knocked off a crisp, fast lap that pasted us up against the seat side-bolsters, and put li'l ol' me in my proper, ah, perspective.
Driving school is in a peculiar class of activities at my stage of life: it's in the category of "always wanted to...and still might." (Most "always wanted tos...." are now in the "...but never will" box.)
I'm going to have to revise my opinion of Porsches. When I was first driving on the north shore of Milwaukee in the 1970s, 911s—especially Targas—were the "chick cars" of choice for the hip young housewife, who drove them about the same way their younger doppelgangers now drive the gussied-up trucks called SUVs. To the amusement of my friends, I worked out alternate lyrics for a song called "Porsches in My Way," sung to the tune of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," which I was wont to croon whenever I got trapped behind a Porsche doing an imitation of a tortoise.
The other demo the dealer was offering was an extended test drive in the new Panamera (it's pronounced "pan-uh-MARE-uh."). I had no expectations whatsoever for that exercise. The Panamera struck me from the start as a conceptual monstrosity, like a BMW SUV or a Leica rangefinder with a 28–300mm zoom. But...well, it's not. It's actually a pure delight to drive—it reminded me of that Mozart quote about how the pianoforte should be played in his piano concertos—"It must flow like oil." The Panamera is as close to the experience of a flying in a glider as you can get on the ground. In my experience at least. Lovely.
Fun couple of hours. No Porsches in my way, either, all day.
P.S. Why no pictures? Because your idiot host carefully charged the camera battery but then came away from the house with camera in hand but without a card. Sheesh. Keep it together, Mikey, keep it together.
"Open Mike," which consists of off-topic posts on a variety of subjects written by Yr. Hmbl. Ed., appears intermittently, but only on Sundays.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Rex Kersley: "Reminds me of an old joke: Guy hires a odd job man to paint the porch. When he returns there is a note, 'Sorry Boss, couldn't find the Porsche, so I painted the Ferrari instead.'"
Featured Comment by Michael: "I've got the answer for forgetting to replace the card in the camera. Always carry a spare in your wallet. Works for me anyway."