Last year I got an invitation via the Cayman Registry for a special event in Las Vegas. It was sponsored by Porsche Cars NA and Speed Channel (okay, that’s an interesting combo). Very limited space (typical). Had to take the car (road-trip). Had to go to Vegas (would I have time for pinball). Had to skip out on work (twist my arm). Had to get put up in a nice hotel on the Strip (it was really nice). Be fed (food is good). And yet not know exactly what we were going to be doing (hrmmmm, verdy intarestink). A very loving and caring wife actually gave me permission to go (I’m so loved).
At around 4:30 in the morning, I started the car to begin the journey. A few miles down the road, I picked up my co-pilot and we bombed south and then east to the city of sin. With a few stops for gas, caffeine, and food, we made the 600 miles to the Wynn Encore in a shade under 9 hours. Special desk for event and hotel registration, a couple hours nap in the suite, then a presentation from Porsche on the new 2013 Cayman, a drivers meeting and safety briefing, then this:
A parade of Caymans down the Las Vegas Strip with police escort and running red lights. And lest we forget the camera truck zipping up and down the third lane filming the entire thing. Found out later that the lens on the camera had a higher value than the entire rest of the setup- car, camera, equipment combined. That’s some piece of glass that got to haul ass.
Matte black Cayenne Turbo camera truck.
After our parade down the strip, with the gawking crowds and stopped traffic, we headed north to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And straight onto the track where we got behind the two pre-production 2013 Caymans and proceeded to take some hot laps around the dusty track. All the while, the camera truck came flying up along side, between, and around the fifty Caymans from all model years.
After about a dozen laps, we were parked on the track at the start/finish line so that the production crews could take family portraits. That’s not a mis-type (although, I’m good for a few of those), there were multiple production crews for this event. But I’ll get to that later.
There happened to be a few more mid-engined Porsches at the track. An ancestor to the Cayman in the form of a 904 Carrera GTS race car sat all alone in the paddock.
And then the future- a 918 Spyder hybrid prototype. This car and a few more copies of it were doing testing in the desert. This example in Martini livery was the only one we were allowed to photograph since it was outside the garage. Inside the garage were the others along with the rest of the 2013 Porsche model line-up.
It’s just a model… er prototype. Lots of bits were not fitted. Just look at the panel gaps and the turn signals. Inside, the interior was a mess of wires for telemetry computers and other bits of testing gear. The Porsche guys were gracious enough to let us poke and prod and ask questions and generally make fools of ourselves around several million dollars worth of test-bed. I think they were somewhat embarrassed by the state of car and kept reminding us that it wasn’t finished, was still in testing, not all the parts fit right, etc, etc, etc. Yeah, whatever, it’s not like I can buy one. Still, when they took it around, the V-8 made an awesome noise. Although, watching it go with the whine of the electric motors and the V-8 off was pretty eerie.
Once parked at start/finish and finished gawking at old and new hotness, we were fed. The head of Cayman development was at the event and provided us with more details of the new model. Throughout the evening he was around to take questions and generally be sociable. When I had my chance I asked, “So, with the 991, the 911 is really just a GT car. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great GT car, but it’s no longer really a race car. When is Porsche going to finally take the restraints off the Cayman and really race it? It’s got a superior chassis and engine placement. All it needs is the horsepower.” All I got was a wistful sigh and a shrug. This was a man who knew the truth and it stunk. History dictated that the 911 would remain the top car on the totem pole, even if that meant engineers had to figure out how to hobble the true potential of the Cayman.
Anyway, moving right along…
As I mentioned, there were multiple production crews at this event. For the most part, the first part of what we’ve been a part of was brought to us by Porsche Cars NA. For the rest of the night, we would be in the hands of Speed Channel and their “reality tv” crew. With Justin Bell as our talking head, we went about finding out who go on to compete in the next round in Fontana, CA in February. There were two initial exercises we had to perform in a Porsche Driving School Cayman R.
The first was a threshold braking test. In a fixed distance, reach at least 60mph, then brake and stop within the stop box. Something most people have never done before, even as an experienced autocrosser or time-trialer. Driving instructors were on hand and gave explanations of the activity, how to best go about stopping quickly without setting off the ABS, etc. But really, unless you’ve done it before, well, let’s just say the first time through I was too timid and the second time through too aggressive. But at least I learned something valuable- Cayman R with PDK under full throttle will kick the rear end out to the left when flat shifting from 1st to 2nd.
The second activity was the high speed slalom. Here I felt more comfortable even if the slalom cones were spaced farther than just about any AX course. For filming and consistency purposes we were required to pass the first cone on the left. The distance from the standing start to the first cone meant that as you were passing it, it was time to shift to 2nd. Knowing that the car would try and kick out, I gave less steering input for the second cone, and got to 3rd gear just after the last cone. After my first run, the instructor told me, “smoothest run today.” I like to believe he was being honest. I did have the 2nd fastest time overall at that point, but there were 24 more drivers to go.
Suffice it to say, my time did not hold up through the night. I was not one of the top six who then competed in an autocross around the infield course to determine the top 3. Those top three will compete in February for the show against professional drivers and “celebrities.”
Woke up at the crack of 10 the next morning and went right back on the road to get home. Less than 24 hours in Las Vegas, but it was a great event.
Alcohol content: none during (drunk on high octane)
Caffeine content: off the charts