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Golden Gate Region Of PCA Interviews - Sport

Nov 5, 2009 SHARE

EC: Mike, what's your function in the Golden Gate Region of PCA?
MC: I'm the co-chair, along with Warren, of the 2009 Driving Education Series and Time Trial Series [TT and DE].

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EC: And how many years has the region competed in time trials?
MC: I believe it started in the '70s. It's probably been over 30 years.

EC: Warren, how many years have you been involved and participating?
WW: I started in 1995 right here at Thunderhill. When we first started, there were literally eight turns and the course was 1.8 miles, and it's now a three-mile elevation change. This is one of the better tracks around.

EC: Do you find that this is a better course say than Sears or Laguna?
WW: What are the best tracks you've ever been on? "The one I'm on now." That's the real answer for a real driver. There are some that are more fun than others are, and there are some that are more technical and can be run in either direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, so it presents a totally different view. It's difficult to do it correctly all the time. Just practice, practice, practice.

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EC: Have you both have been participating in time trials since the mid '70s?
MC: Warren and I started the same year, in 1995.

EC: So you are relatively late to the party.
MC: We're the old timers now, but we're newbies compared to when the series started.

EC: On an average event, how many entrants do you have?
WW: August is usually the slowest. We have 74 for this weekend and we'll get up over 110 when we have our club race. We've incorporated club racing into the time trial series.

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EC: With regards to PCA club racing, how did that happen?
MC: It was time trials only. Warren and I, along with our teams, started the club racing. We were going to have three club races within our DE events, which is pretty significant. PCA was very impressed.

EC: Was that something you both developed on your own as far as changes?
WW: Yes, we have driven together since we started in 1995. When we started racing with other groups, we decided that there wasn't any reason we shouldn't have PCA racing inside our DE and TT. With help from lots of people, we were able to put it together. How many did we have for the first race, 45 entrants?
MC: It was a three-day event. We had the school on Friday and the races on Saturday and Sunday. Now we have five events a year. Three of them have club racing incorporated into them.

EC: You mentioned running with other groups.
MC: Yes. One group, for example, is the PRC, Porsche Racing Club. Some members of GGR migrated over to race there and the Spec 911 class germinated in that group.

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EC: When you say 911 group can you explain what that means in terms of regulations?
WW: It is a specified class. Everybody has to have the same tires, there is a minimum weight, there is a maximum size on the engine. It's a very competitive class because everybody is within a few seconds of each other, and the top guys are within tenths of each other. So the racing is close and very exciting.

EC: Mike, since you drive one of the Spec 911s, give us a technical breakdown.
MC: Up to 3.0 liters with carbs, or 3.2 with the stock injection and headers. Minimum weight is 2,350 pounds with driver. If you win, there are trophy weights. Tires are RA1s and so 225 front and 245 rear, seven- and eight-inch rims. Suspensions are pretty free; most people use Boxster brakes in the front and Carreras in the rear. But it is very, very competitive and PCA adopted it word for word as far as the regulations. They have embraced the Spec 911. It's been great.

EC: Warren, how long have you been an instructor?
WW: Eleven years. I've been an instructor since 1998. I was a pilot and instructor in the Air Force, so when somebody asked: "Would you like to instruct?" I thought: "Sure, sounds like fun."

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EC: What makes for a good instructor as far as temperament? Because obviously you get such a range of different people, from those who are intimidated by being on the track to those who think they're the second coming of Ayrton Senna.
WW: I think the qualities the instructors have that come through the most are that they really care about the people who want to learn and they are good communicators. They evaluate reasonably well. We put together a program designed for teaching how to instruct. I was on the National DE committee for PCA and we put on a specific one-day training course for all the instructors. Two instructors per car, with one person playing a role and the other acting as the instructor, then they switch. They discuss things like, how do you deal with somebody who acts like this? Or way wild or scared? The vast majority of instructors that we have now are nationally qualified PCA instructors.

EC: You came up with a standardized evaluation program.
WW: Actually GGR had a standardized evaluation program and it dovetailed well into the national program. A group of people met in Washington, D.C.-I was lucky enough to be one of them-and literally put the program together in about three or four days. There's a huge slideshow presentation and lots and lots of paper to go through. It's a very good program.

EC: Even though most Porsches are not inexpensive to run but can be made to be fairly reliable over the course of a season, do you feel this is a good alternative to SCCA pro or amateur racing? What are the pros and cons of approaching both types of series?
MC: I think with PCA club racing it is very competitive and there is a lot of camaraderie-a tremendous amount. At the same time, these are expensive cars and they are not inexpensive to fix. So there's an attitude we brought to our club racing series, that we want to go out there and race hard, but we don't want contact and we want people to maintain respect. One thing we saw in the first two races we put on was a real respect for that attitude, because you don't want to be loading up your car after it's been wadded up.
WW: I'd echo what Mike said. You can go out and have a wonderful time racing with other people driving similarly built cars and everybody understands from practice right on through to the checkered flag. Everybody has got to take these things home at the end of the weekend, so we want to have them taken home just the way they brought them.

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EC: What are the disciplinary measures for avoidable contact, unavoidable contact, racing incidents?
MC: There is the 13/13 rule. I'll give you an example. When we were at Buttonwillow we had a Sunday-morning practice session that we felt was just too aggressive. Warren and I called a meeting and we told them: "Hey, you have to back down and be respectful, because what we saw out there we didn't like." After that, qualifying and the race went smoothly. It was beautiful. Warren and I take a very proactive approach on how we run the club races within our group. On the 13/13, they interview people and see who is at fault. And if there is contact between cars, there are specific procedures that PCA follows.

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EC: Just in terms of evolution, I've noticed that you have more water pumper cars, 996s and 997s, running. I guess with time we'll see more club and cup variants of the later cars.
MC: When we first started, our base was made up of a lot of early cars and 914s. Now the series is made up of a lot of these newer cars. That's just the way things are going.
WW: The new cars are wonderful. The suspension and computers inside them make driving easier. People learn more quickly and they start going faster right away.

EC: But doesn't that come at the expense of the old "run what you brung" attitude, the building up of a homegrown, one-off special? Early 911s, 914s, even modified 356s... the aftermarket lived on that enthusiasm. These later cars are so good right out of the box.
WW: The attitude is still there, just in different cars. There certainly is a controversy of "Do we turn off the automatic savior switch and actually teach people how to drive without it?" or "Do they learn with it and then start to turn it off themselves?" That's a ticklish question.

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EC: Mike, if you could pick any one Porsche racecar to drive and to keep, and you couldn't sell it, what would it be?
MC: I have to say that with the limited experience I've had with those, I'd take a car like John Bryne's 1974 Jagermeister RSR sitting over in the garage. Those cars just really do it for me.

EC: Warren, same question.
WW: I'd have to say yeah, the RSR is probably the best example. Lightweight, durable-a great car.

EC: Production value with a racer's edge?
MC: Yes, you don't have to do anything to it except learn how to drive really well. That would be the ultimate experience.

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