Recently I had the pleasure of heading to Atlanta, Georgia and spending a few days with some fabulous ladies from A Girls Guide to Cars. It’s a fun group of talented, charismatic, adventurous women who are car enthusiasts. So when you have a bunch of adventurous car enthusiasts in together and you’re in Atlanta the best place to visit is the Porsche Experience Center.
The Porsche Experience Center a must-see place if you are in the Atlanta area. You’ll want to set aside at least half a day if not a full day to spend there. We spent half a day and I wish we would’ve had more time. There was still so much I wanted to see but didn’t get to.
For those that want to spend a little time on the track, you’ll need to make a reservation. There are over a dozen different driving experiences you can book and all include your own personal instructor that is in the car with you. Having that one-on-one experience is invaluable. Your instructor is going to teach you how to drive like a pro because they are a pro. And having them sitting right next to you in the car gives them a direct view and insight into what you are doing so they can coach you on what to do. I had the pleasure of working with 2 different instructors while I was there and they taught me so much. And the things they were teaching me where techniques and tweaking the way I was doing something that they couldn’t have seen me doing if they were not beside me.
For example, the way I was holding the steering wheel was preventing me from having the most range of motion, you can’t see that detail from the sidelines but when you are sitting right next to someone you can. He had me move my hand placement by just a few inches and it made the world of difference. Or when I was looking out my window I just needed to look a little more to the left and down, just a smidge. Again, he would not have been able to notice that if he was not in the car with me.
While I was on the track having my one-on-one time I learned how to recover from oversteering, slipping on “ice”, and understeering. All those skills are invaluable for a driver to learn. Living in the Midwest those skills are a necessity. I live on the bluffs of the St. Croix Valley and literally drive along the river on the bluffs every morning and evening. While it makes for a stunning view it can also be a dangerous drive. It’s 2 lanes with the occasional guard rail but frequently there is just a the bluffs, rocks and trees between me and the river. Having the knowledge on how to recover, quickly and safely from hitting a patch of ice while driving is a skill needed. Did I know how to recover before I spent my time at the Porsche Experience Center? I thought so. But I learned how to stop faster and with less spin or fishtailing than I had been doing. It was just a few little things I needed to tweak in what I was doing but it made a world a difference. I feel confident that this winter when I’m on those 2 lane roads that I have the skills to maneuver icy roads and react appropriately to the road conditions.
Now, we also had some fun while on the track. Your instructor is not all stuffy and dry, drilling techniques into your head. When they are teaching you a technique or letting you get the feel of the car it’s fun. These instructors love their jobs, have a blast doing this and it shows through when they are with you. There is so much enthusiasm to show you as much as they can while they are with you. They are always checking in with you and seeing what you thought, if something seems to be a little much or you don’t want to try it, it’s ok, they won’t make you. I wasn’t too sure about trying the simulation of slipping on ice or a slippery surface. Spinning out or losing control of a car is not what I would put on my list of fun things to do. I like to be in control. My instructor knew I wasn’t too keen on this but we talked about it and I agreed to try it just once. And I am glad I did. He helped me work through that hesitation or fear that was holding me back. I did the course once and the first time I was a little questionable in my abilities to stop. I spun a fair amount and it took me a little to recover. But I decided to try it again. By the third time, I knew exactly what I needed to do to stop the vehicle from going into a full spin. By the fifth time, it was instinct on what my hands and feet needed to be doing. That is something all drivers need to learn.
I also got to drive as fast as I felt comfortable with around the track, which I’ll admit was fun. But my favorite part was doing some of the smaller courses where I really got to learn steering and braking techniques. The one-on-one time I spent with my instructors was invaluable. Not only did I have an incredible amount of fun I also learned some techniques that will help me be a safer driver.
If you don’t have time to spend a few hours with an instructor there is plenty of other things to see at the Porsche Experience Center. They have the Heritage Gallery which is a self-guided tour of Porsche’s history. I really wanted to take some time and go through there but I ran out. You can also sign up for a 90 minute guided tour which is a great one for families to do. If some of your party is going to be on the track and some are not, the guided tour is a nice option.
And there is also an amazing restaurant – Restaurant 356 – where you can enjoy some amazing eats while looking over the track. We had lunch at Restaurant 356 while we were there. It was delicious. As someone who loves to cook and enjoys eating out, I can say this is a restaurant I would definitely return to. The dishes are unique with flavor combinations that give your palate a treat. The salad I had was something I would’ve never put together on my own but it was fabulous. I had a chicken dish severed with fingerling potatoes, Cipollini onions and baby vegetables that were scrumptious. I will confess that I was part of the clean plate club. It was all so good that I didn’t let a morsel go uneaten. You do not need to be signed up for a driving experience to enjoy this place either. You can make reservations on Open Table for Restaurant 356 any time they are open.
Porsche Experience Center is a must-see place if you are visiting the Atlanta area. While you do have to be 21 years old with a valid driver’s license to participate in the drive experience there is still plenty of things to see and do while at the Center when you’re not on the track.