If you love cars and have a couple of hours spare in Los Angeles – this is the experience for you.
There are plenty of fast car driving experiences in the USA. We’ve raced some crazy cars at places like Exotics Racing – but there’s a limitation there.
Hiring a sports car for a fast lap at a race track is fun. But you don’t learn anything and it’s over in a heartbeat – or a few laps as the case may be.
With an afternoon to spare in Los Angeles before we head to Las Vegas for CES, we dropped into the Porsche Experience Center and boy was it worth it – the time and the money.
When you step inside this purpose-built facility you’re immediately greeted with a museum-like display of Porsche vehicles.
From the brand new all-Electric Taycan, to classic 911’s and even multi-million dollar LeMan race-car – this in it of itself is a rev head’s dream.
You can take a look at all of that for free, there’s a Cafe and Restaurant if you want to spend a bit more time, and a gift shop for some take-home reminders.
But the real purpose here is to get behind the wheel. From $450 (USD) you can do just that.
The price you pay is determined by which car you choose. A 718 Cayman is your entry choice, up to a 911 GT3.
For the EFTM team, we went of the iconic Porsche 911.
My coach for the session was a young bloke named Mitchell Tan – He was quick to point out that his role was not an Instructor – he was not going to tell me what to do, he was going to coach me through the things I wanted to do.
And critically, this was not a race track where I get a few laps to put the car through its paces. This was one and a half hours in the car.
The LA Porsche Experience Center is enormous – a 53 acre facility and it’s far more than just a race track.
There are seven different areas designed for the road and race cars (plus an off-road area for the 4WD vehicles).
On the Dynamics Pad you can test and learn everything from basic car control, launch control and learning where that braking threshold is before ABS kicks in.
Alongside the 405 Freeway is a long straight stretch where you can put the foot to the floor and feel it’s acceleration and hard braking. My favourite part of that is the replica Nurburgring hairpin which has to be driven to be appreciated.
An Ice hill has you driving down a wet and slippery slope into a wet hairpin turn to learn some braking rules and brake control techniques while the wet kickplate course has a sideways moving kickplate to push you into a spin which you’ll learn to recover from.
A slippery concrete twisty set of turns are covered in flour to give you a low-friction experience to force understeer and oversteer and learn all those somewhat basic car control techniques.
The wet low-friction circle is your chance to drift out some donuts, while the 2km circuit is a chance to really feel the power of the 911 (in our case) on a track.
There aren’t lap times, there are no in-car video recordings, this is as much about learning as it is to have a stack of fun.
While four of us all took part, talking to each other afterward made it clear there was no one way to do the hour and a half. Your coach customises the time based on what you’re enjoying, the things you want to learn or the things you want to do.
For that reason alone, everyone was smiles when it was all over.
A genuinely epic experience, that teaches you about the next level of car control – no matter what your knowledge before you arrive.
Value for money here is exceptional, Any Porsche owner would be mad not to give this a crack, while any rev-head is going to enjoy every second of the experience.
You don’t need to be with mates, the entire program is solo, so rock up alone and you’ll have just as good a time.
I’ll be back.