Drive dangerously |

Drive dangerously

Charlie OwenVail, CO Colorado
AE Porsche Action PU 1-12-07

Is it possible to make driving 30 mph feel like 130 mph? At Camp4 Colorado, a winter-driving school hosted by Porsche’s North American Travel Club, it is.As a brand name, Porsche conjures up many different images and emotions in the mind of a man – mystical foreign sports car, visions of racing on the autobahn and midlife-crisis cure all come to mind – but its staying power in the automobile world is undeniable.Now, with adult-hood fully set in, Porsche still offers the chance to combine fantasy with education during its program designed to teach drivers of all abilities how to drive better in the slick and snowy conditions that we often see in the mountains.”There are other winter-driving programs, but none that let you, a) drive a $100,000 sports car and encourages you to stuff it into a snowbank, and 2) we make it a total experience,” said salt-and-pepper mustachioed program manager Bill Buckley, who oversees all of Porsche’s U.S. driving programs.Of course, the objective of the winter-driving program is to teach drivers how to avoid crashing into snowbanks (or other cars) through a series of skill tests designed to improve awareness on the road while avoiding freakouts in choppy situations. All while behind the wheel of a high-performance Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.”It’s like what we used to do when we were kids but in a more structured environment and with more expensive toys,” said Kevin Schrantz, a driving instructor for Porsche and former professional race-car driver.

After a miniclass on how to use the Porsche’s breaking and steering systems to their advantage, students are led to the course, which is carved into the 6 feet of snow covering Cordillera’s Summit golf course driving range.The course itself is a solid sheet of ice covered with a thin layer of newly fallen snow , which snakes around in a series of tight turns and short straightaways, the perfect place to free the inner stuntman.The professional driver takes the students out on the course for a dry run, repeating all the way what must be done to successfully maneuver the tight and slick corners of the track.”We don’t have good instructors, we have the best instructors,” Buckley said.The students eventually are let loose on the track in intervals, sometimes with an instructor in the passenger seat, sometimes alone with nothing but a walkie-talkie to receive instructions.This is when it gets good, opening up (as much as one can on an icy surface) and taking turns at speed, whipping the tail end of the car around like you’re in “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The only thing missing is the ramps.Student drivers learn a series of maneuvers such as breaking while steering and using the throttle to control direction and then must run through various orange-cone slalom tests to prove that they understand and can apply what they’ve learned. No matter how easy it looks, turning into a sharp corner at 30 mph and maintaining control is a very hard thing to do.But the instructors are kind and patient, taking the time to tell students what they did wrong and help them correct it.”We have so many instructors. If you’re not getting through to somebody, then one of the other instructors will get through to them,” instructor Kevin Schrantz said.

Owning a Porsche 911 might not be in your future, but according to four-year veteran of Porsche driving schools Rich Hull, that doesn’t matter; the program is still helpful.”This program is designed to learn by doing it. All the techniques we teach are 100 percent applicable to every automobile,” Hull said.Anyone who has ever driven over Vail Pass in a blizzard understands just how frightening and unpredictable winter road conditions can be. Program manager Buckley said his main concern is that participants in the program walk away with more confidence and ability to drive in the conditions that are presented on his practice track.”The thing I like best about this program is how the participants are amazed at the improvement in their driving,” he said. Buckley and his staff of expert driving instructors will be continuing the Camp4 Colorado at The Summit golf course in Cordillera through early February. There are one-day and five-day programs, allowing students to choose how much education they need.This year’s program (Buckley hopes to make it annual) is nearly sold out, and Porsche already has begun plans for a third winter season next year. Buckley would like to double the practice track next year while continuing to keep his classes small with lots of one-on-one teaching. That is what makes the program so special, he said.

What: Porsche’s Camp4 Colorado winter-driving program.When: Now through Feb. 6.Where: Cordillera Summit Course in Edwards.Cost: $1,800 for one-day course, $6,000 for five-day course. Includes lodging and dining accommodations.For more information: Call 888-204-7474 or visit Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or

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