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A Porsche Track Day – The experience of a ‘first timer’

A guest blog by Leon Theisinger (Marketing Agency for Williams Crawford)

The 18th of November 2023…a day etched into my memory as the day I ventured into the world of track driving.

The drive from Plymouth to Castle Combe was uneventful, but somehow, I knew this was the calm before the storm, and I wondered what the day ahead would hold for me. The anticipation of my first track day had turned a normal everyday drive, into a peculiar blend of cautious anticipation, with a hint of overexcitement.

Upon arriving, was I anxious? Yes. There was a paddock full of experienced track day drivers, and I couldn’t help thinking that I was in the wrong place. However, everyone I met was really quite relaxed about it all…so, why should I be worried? It was only because I thought that I’d get in the way of all the experienced drivers, but I was assured to just take it at my own pace, and all would be good.

I was allocated to session one, and quite happy to be setting off thinking that I was on my way for a gentle couple of citing laps, to help me learn the circuit. The excitement built whilst taking my place in the queue to enter the track, and away we went. Ease in and get to know the track was just what I needed. However, the initial excitement turned into a moment of panic when the safety car turned off the track…and away we went! Straight into a session—no warm-up, no breathing exercises, just pure adrenaline. “Buckle up, buttercup”, here we go!

The wet weather decided that morning’s activities would be, let’s say, interesting. A wet track…a beginner’s nightmare! Those corners took on a life of their own, almost as if they were mocking my novice attempts at finding the perfect racing line. I swear, I saw one corner laugh at me as I approached.

Thankfully, my saviour came in the form of Adrian Crawford. Eight laps of guidance with him felt like a masterclass in racing. Adrian, armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things track-related, coached me with absolute precision. Once back safely in the paddock, his debrief was focused on braking, car weight distribution, transitions, and positioning (and a lot more besides!).

This coaching was invaluable and, in the afternoon with an open pit lane, I couldn’t wait to start applying what I had learned. The nerves had subsided (not gone completely!), and my focus was with progression, and little by little I felt more comfortable behind the wheel.

My confidence was certainly aided by the car I was driving, so let’s talk about the Porsche Boxster that I was fortunately enough to have as my partner for the day.

It’s a fantastic choice, especially for a first-time track day driver like me, offering a well-balanced mix of performance, handling, and forgiveness that’s ideal for someone getting their feet wet (literally!) in the world of track driving.

Its mid-engine layout provided an excellent balance, giving it a neutral handling feel that gave me confidence. This meant a more forgiving response to my steering inputs, making it easier for me to correct mistakes and navigate corners smoothly.

The car’s weight distribution, with the engine placed between the axles, contributed to its stability through corners, allowing me to feel more in control.

A Porsche engine isn’t just for show. I found the Boxster’s power delivery to be responsive, yet manageable, providing adequate acceleration without causing me any issues. This balance ensured that I could progressively explore and understand the car’s capabilities without feeling overwhelmed by excessive speed.

One of the Boxster’s standout features on the track is its handling. The car’s agility allowed for precise manoeuvring, enabling me to hit apexes and maintain the racing line more easily (when I got it right!). This agility didn’t just assist in cornering; it gave me a feeling of control, crucial for someone new to the track environment.

What truly set the Boxster apart for me as a beginner, was its ability to forgive my mistakes. As a track day novice, it’s natural to make errors while learning the ropes. The Boxster’s forgiving nature cushioned these mistakes, allowing me to explore the limits of the car without fear of serious consequences. Its stability and predictable handling characteristics provided a comfortable learning curve, building my confidence gradually throughout the day.

Overall, the Porsche Boxster (or Cayman) is the epitome of a well-balanced sports car for beginners on the track. It’s blend of performance, handling, and forgiveness creates an environment conducive to learning and enjoying the track experience to the fullest. Driving this car at Castle Combe was a thrilling yet manageable introduction to the joys of track driving.

Kudos must be given to the Westcountry Porsche Drivers Club for putting together this track day. Their organisation ensured that even a beginner like me felt welcomed and supported throughout the day.

And how could I forget the reason I found myself at this incredible day? Williams Crawford, who generously extended the invitation to me. Thank you for pulling me out of my comfort zone and into this incredible experience.

As the day drew to a close, I found myself itching for more track adventures, and the nervousness that once gripped me had transformed into a want for more of the same in the future.

So, here’s to more track days, more Porsche thrills, and more moments of heart-thumping excitement. Because after all, life is too short for anything less than extraordinary adventures.

There you have it, my first experience of a track day. My parting thoughts for anyone thinking about giving it a go is…‘go for it’…you won’t regret it!

However, choosing the right car, and its setup, is vital to an enjoyable experience…and in my view, there’s no one better than Williams Crawford to ‘make it happen’. Their experience with motor racing, and the Porsche brand, means they would be my first choice when embarking on a journey in to motorsport.

If you’re heading to Castle Combe for a track day soon, download our free ‘Track Quick Checks, Circuit Map & Notes‘ guide HERE.

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