West Texas Hooning – Porsche Club of America West Texas Autocross
We have plenty of open roads across the South Plains, but not many corners or tracks to enjoy the handling of some of our more nimble vehicles.
Fortunately, one organization in the area holds several events throughout the year to allow some motorists the opportunity to hoon their vehicles in a way not available on your normal street.
The Porsche Club of America – West Texas Region offers a series of autocross events throughout the year that allows drivers to learn about car control and how their vehicle handles in a tight circuit.
While their autocrosses are beginner-level competitive driving autocross events, drivers only compete against their own time and the cones that outline the track.
In a participant’s first two autocross event, they are paired with an experienced driver that will help the motorist improve their driving on these circuits.
The event is open to more than just Porsche owners. At the event which I attended on June 7th, 2014, I also got to see Mustangs, Subarus, Hondas, BMWs, Nissans, and Audis bolting around their circuit, which was set up in the northwest parking lot of the South Plains Mall.
Only 40 entries are allowed per event, and each participant gets to run multiple laps around their circuit, made entirely out of small traffic cones, which do often wind up knocked around a bit. The upside is when the cones inevitably get knocked over, there’s no damage to the vehicle.
Though the June 7th autocross has passed, the local PCA has three more scheduled for 2014. They will be held on July 12th, August 16th, and September 20th.
Brian Harnish, who is the lead organizer of the autocross events, very graciously invited me to the event and let me ride with some of the attendees, which was a big thrill.
I didn’t want to take my questionably-classic BMW 7-Series around their track, because while I have no concern that the front end could handle their tight turns, I’m certain that the rear end would take out as many cones as possible. After all, you can only use the excuse of a failed Scandinavian Flick once or twice before people start to get annoyed with destroyed cones.
Because of my penchant for massive sedans favored by the octogenarian crowd, I was able to ride with two participants, and poorly filmed my experiences. Video of those laps are available below.
There are some vehicles that would not be suitable for this type of event. Ford Explorers likely wouldn’t make it through the first turn, so higher-profile SUVs and the like are not allowed to participate.
After a rather disgraceful effort of fitting myself in (and immediately out of) Harnish’s roll cage-equipped Porsche 944S, Harnish said to just ask anybody about to take a run if I could ride with them. I was very surprised at how welcoming and friendly the participants were about letting me ride with them.
I first rode in Dr. Andy Gray’s beautiful Porsche 914-6 as he did a masterful job of running the small car around their tight circuit. Though the speeds reached during the laps are not necessarily high, the laps are quite exciting.
I next rode in James Liggett’s VW GTI, which was also quite impressive. The car was completely stock, but in a GTI, it comes well-equipped for this type of event straight from the factory.
Prior to the autocross, drivers review all of the rules, check and service their vehicle’s fluids, tire pressures, and secure all items in the car or remove them.
The events begin at 7 a.m., when drivers show up for a technical inspection of their vehicle and register for the event. The PCA members then lead everyone on a walk of the track and identify challenges for each vehicle. Practice sessions are then allowed, followed by timed sessions.
Each driver receives a warm-up lap and then four timed laps after the practice session.
After the event, everyone helps remove the formidable number of cones comprising the track, and then enjoys some adult beverages and fellowship with their fellow gearheads.
This is a truly wonderful experience for interested motorists, and we’re quite lucky to have an organization putting together this type of event.
You do not have to be a PCA member to participate.
More information is available at wtx.pca.org, including a link to the organization’s Facebook page.