THE BEST WERE PUT TO THE TEST AT THE CAROLINAS PORSCHEFEST

By Cliff Hudgins


FRIDAY

After spending the morning gathering last minute things for the event here in Winston, Gary and I point our convoy south about 1:00. We stop at Chuck and Tina's to pick up even more stuff, then get to the hotel around 3:00. Lamar Turk from Peachstate is already there, carrying his autocross tires in the car with him. My kind of guy. We spend the next two hours trying to get the registration materials together, being ready just in time. Folks start checking in right away, with couples receiving two golf shirts, two banquet tickets, entrance to all of the events, plus a bag of goodies including awesome GT1 posters done by Michelin, all for a mere $100 if you registered early. Hooking good sponsors is what makes this possible. Once most everybody gets registered, it's time for dinner and some good old fashioned socializing, at least for those like me who think that dirt is useful for protecting your car's paint, while those with other opinions were busy stripping that dirt away in preparation for Saturday's concours. To show my support, I drank a toast to them while I watched in the parking deck. It seems that Providence wanted to add a special challenge by arranging a rain shower just when most of the registrants were arriving. My offers to let them practice on my car came to no avail.

SATURDAY

Showtime! After a leisurely breakfast, I cruised outside around 9:30 to admire some of the nicest Porsches I have ever seen. We had it all, from a 1951 split window 356 to two 1997 Boxsters, with everything in between. These guys go through some kind of torture to prepare these cars, but the results are worth it. The judges had their work cut out for them to find flaws in these beautiful examples, but it appears they were up to the task. Unfortunately Gary and I couldn't hang around, we had autocross prep work to do.

After catching lunch at the nearby (as in across the street) South Park Mall, we were rally ready. This was going to be a gimmick rally; that is we had all the time we needed to answer 20 questions that related to the surroundings along the route. Estimated time was 2 ½ hours. Charlotte has a quaint habit of naming segments of the same piece of asphalt seventeen different names, while calling completely different pieces of asphalt the same thing (or very nearly the same thing, as we were to discover). Kathy and I drove the shortest distance while getting lost, thanks to a side trip to K-Mart to buy a map. Our abysmal finish was mitigated by the fact that we were back at the hotel at 4:00. The rally was won by the Tomkos, who you will note also won Sun Fun's Winery Rally a couple of months back. We better watch these two.

After John Nelson and his able crew gathered in all of the sheep, the group retired to the courtyard at the hotel for cocktails, just before the banquet. Peeking out into that courtyard (I was supposed to be getting my banquet speaking notes together), I saw the entire group laughing and having an enormous time. There was no better measure of the success of the event than this moment; I knew that we had pulled it off.

At the banquet in addition to the delicious food, trophy presentations, and tons of free door prizes, we were treated to messages from our Zone Rep Danny Saxton, our National Treasurer and Carolinas member Dave Lumpkin, and as a special treat, Master Service Instructor Chuck James from Porsche Cars North America, who gave a very interesting slide presentation on the development of the Boxster. We gave away THREE sets of tires, none of which were won by me, drat it all. With the banquet over and all of the door prizes disposed of, we moved back to the hospitality room for more socializing and mass consumption of beverages.

SUNDAY

I love the smell of Castrol and Dunlops in the morning. After skipping the concours, failing the tech quiz, and performing miserably in the rally, it was time to be somebody. Gary has the results in a separate article, but you've already guessed who got the glass in the 993 class, along with sixth overall (second on street tires). Along with the perfect weather, this was the smoothest autocross I have ever participated in. Everything was more or less on time, lunch was brought to us, and everything clicked in a fun and very safe event. Gary's getting good with putting these things on. Once we gave the trophies away, cleaned everything up (which everybody helped with, thanks guys), and got ready to leave, I was suddenly exhausted, almost too tired to drive home. A big weekend, one to remember forever. Thanks again to all who helped make it happen.


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Last Update: 23-May-1997 1:00 AM ET