On December 2, 2017 at the Red River Region annual holiday banquet I was the fortunate winner of the Grand Prize Raffle Draw. It was the best $40.00 I ever spent.
Report by John Sobczak photos by arcticmedia
The prize consisted of an all expenses paid trip to Porsche Camp4 2018 Winter Driving Experience and was generously donated by PORSCHE CENTRE WINNIPEG. The two days of driving was conducted at the Mecaglisse ice driving facility in the Laurentians North of Montreal with three nights accommodations at the Esterel Resort & Spa about half hour away. The event is hosted by Porsche Cars Canada Ltd. and includes driving, accommodations all meals food and wine. At the Banquet Braeden Mueller; General Manager of Porsche centre also donated a Business Class flight to Montreal for the winner.
I flew to Montreal on Wednesday, January 31, arriving in a blizzard. By the time I got my rental car it was getting dark. A trip that was supposed to take an hour took two. There was several cars that went off the road with one even on its roof. Thank God for GPS for without it I probably would have ended up in Labrador.
I checked in to the Hotel at about 6:00 p.m. My room was a suite with full kitchen facilities and patio doors overlooking a lake. Too bad I didn’t get a chance to spend much time in it.
Dinner and meet and greet that night was at the hotel. We were introduced to our assigned group and got to know each other over a fine meal.
There were 40 participants broken up in to 5 groups of 8 that stayed together for the entire event. Each group was assigned a Senior Instructor, Junior Instructor and a Hostess/Starter. The majority of the participants were male with about 10% being female. Ages of participants ranged from mid-twenties to mid-seventies. Participants were from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The following Camp4 also had attendees from Australia, Europe and China. The Porsche Canada Driving Experience is a highly regarded event and is recognized globally.
Thursday, December 1 started with a buffet breakfast at 7:00 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. we attended a briefing explaining our upcoming two days. Each participant was paired with another one for the entire two days. Instructors would be out on the track in contact with the driver via portable radio mounted in the car. The participants would alternate between passenger and driver every 2 or 3 runs around the track. There would be 2 full days of driving. Students would learn; oversteer, understeer, hand position, driving position, vision, braking, loading, weight transfer, accelerating into, out of and during a turn as well as drifting.
After the briefing we were bussed en masse about 40 minutes to the track at Mecaglisse. The track is flooded and the snow is banked on the sides. We arrived to a rousing group if instructors in bright red parkas and were ushered to the Lodge which overlooks the various track facilities. From the lodge we were greeted by a view of the 30+ vehicles used for Camp4 parked in an arc on the track. There were twenty new 911 CarreraS and 911 Carrera4S with less that a hundred kilometres. Five each in red, yellow, grey, silver and black with PDK transmissions for the participants. The instructors drove white Carrera 911S with standard transmissions. All track cars were equipped with winter tires with1.5 mm studs. There were also black Cayennes for pulling cars out of snowbanks and shuttling back and forth as required.
We spent all day learning winter driving skills, moving through four different track areas even reversing directions through two of the circuits. I slid off the track in to a snowbank on one of my runs. It was so quick I still don’t know how it happened. Luckily I was able to just back out of the snow and did not require a tow and there was no damage. It’s definitely a strange feeling heading for a snowbank with no way to stop. Safety is paramount for the event. There is no racing or horseplay allowed. Vehicles are either alone or staggered on the track to avoid contact.
Lunch and refreshments are served at the lodge at the track on both days to maximize time driving. Lunch was a full buffet with 3 entree choices, soup, salad and dessert.
Our day at the track ended at 4:30 and we were bussed back to the hotel. The ride back was pretty quiet as we were all tired from the intensity of the day.
After a quick change and freshen-up were bussed to a local restaurant in a log cabin for another fabulous gourmet meal. Our day ended at 11:00 p.m. with a return to the hotel.
Day 2 again started with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. We were back at the track at 9:00 and spent the entire day in the cars driving all 5 different coloured vehicles and rotating between 5 different areas of the track testing and improving our skills and putting the cars through their paces. Our group was fortunate to finish the day on a long portion of the track which included several different turns, long stretches and a slalom on which we could practice and utilize the skills we had learned. As a bonus at the end of the day each participant was driven around the track by a senior driver and shown how to handle the Porsche on the ice. It was a thrilling ride , being sideways the whole time with a rooster tail of ice crystals flying from all 4 tires.
Day 2 culminated in a farewell banquet and awards ceremony at the hotel with another fabulous meal.There was a professional photographer on site throughout the event. Photographs of all groups and activities were displayed a large screen throughout the award banquet and are available for viewing at porsche.ca/camp4photos. Participants departed at their leisure after the banquet. I left after breakfast the next day and was back in Winnipeg and reality on Saturday afternoon. Four days that went by in a flash, but I will be remember for a long time to come.
Camp4 was an absolutely fabulous experience. The instructors and staff are extremely professional, competent and friendly, ensuring that each participant gets the most out of time spent at the event. The entire event is first class with every detail covered. You can see why people from around the globe attend.
A sincere and heartfelt Thank You to Braeden Mueller; General Manager of Porsche Centre Winnipeg for donating this fabulous prize to Red River Region P.C.A. and to Brent Broten; After Sales Manager for Booking and arranging the trip and flights.
Truly an experience of a lifetime.