Georgia's Fast Lane

Satisfy your need for speed on the tight curves of Road Atlanta.
Annette Thompson

This is no ordinary rental car. I just shot my red Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe through a hairpin on Road Atlanta's Grand Prix course with the pedal flat on the floor. At 100 m.p.h., bales of hay lining the road pass like a golden blur, but I keep my eyes on the speedometer and the blacktop.

I've always loved the unfettered freedom of the road. But today I'm not tooling around in a Hertz-mobile; I'm screaming around the blind hills and curves of Road Atlanta at the Porsche Driving Experience. This adventure has only one drawback--it's expensive ($3,200 for the two-day course). Still, to test some of the classiest cars on one of the world's best courses is worth the price to me.

For two days, the instructors--five Porsche team racers--lead a class of 20 through exercises to understand the limits of the 911, the course, and ourselves. About two-thirds of the participants own Porsches; the rest, like me, are simply in love with the $76,000 320-horsepower beauties.

"You're here to get 100% out of the car," British racer Chris Hall tells us. The limits of the Porsche, however, are way above anything I'd driven before. "The 911 is one of the few cars you can take from the showroom to the racetrack," says manager of operations and race driver Jeff Purner.

We learned how well the Porsche braking system performs, wove through slalom courses, mastered steering control to prevent spins, and revved the throttles while downshifting. We even held a minirace on the serpentine-tracked autocross.

At every point the instructors stressed safety, control, awareness, and smoothness. The first day emphasized learning correct techniques. Day two sped up everything. That afternoon we zoomed around the track, with the instructors leading four student drivers in their individual Carreras. We shaved minutes off our laps until we found our own speed limits.

We rode as passengers the last time around the track with our racer instructors behind the wheel. Although they took the curves much faster than I ever dared, our top speeds weren't that far apart--they topped out around 130 m.p.h. I guess that's fast enough--I can always sign up again and push it a bit more.

Porsche Driving Experience: 980 Hammond Drive, Suite 1000, Atlanta, GA 30328; 1-888-204-7474 or www.porschedriving.com. Rates: One-day High Performance Driving Course $1,595; Two-day Advanced Driving Course $3,200.

This article is from the September 2002 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.