Chris Barone of Upper Hanover Township, a member of the Riesentöter Region of the Porsche Club of America, prepares his Porsche 944 Turbo for his next club outing with the car. Barone has raced the car at events at Pocono Speedway and Watkins Glen.
Chris Barone isn't aware of top speed when he's driving his Porsche 944, specially set up with a water cooled engine, on a professional race track. Barone says he doesn't have time to peek at the speedometer.
"Speed is the least important segment of what I'm doing in that situation," he said. "Anyone can go fast. Our emphasis is braking and turning."
Through his membership with the southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Porsche Club of America, Barone has gotten to drive on the tracks at the Pocono Motor Speedway in Long Pond and Watkins Glen International, located on the southern tip of Lake Seneca in New York state. "The experience is eye opening," Barone said. "You begin to appreciate what these cars are built for. They are built to drive fast, and they handle very well."
According to Barone, the club, made up mostly of middle aged guys, holds approximately eight drivers education events through the year at facilities that include the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville and Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia.
The local organization, known as Riesentöter (which loosely translates to Giant Killer) has approximately 2,300 members and also hosts social outings and a street survival course for young drivers, according to club President Jeffrey Walton.
However, Walton and Baron both admitted that most of the events are created to offer their members an excuse to drive their Porsches.
None are more exhilarating than going around a race track, according to Barone, an Upper Hanover resident who joined the club in 2005 after acquiring a 1986 Porsche 911. "It's addictive and pretty intense," said Corey McFadden, a club member from Quakertown, who has participated in three events this summer.
McFadden, a telecommunications executive, says he has reached "140 or 145 mph" in his 2013 black Porsche Boxster, a two-seat convertible, at Pocono. "My car is at the lower end of the Porsche food chain in terms of horsepower," he said. "But it handles corners quite well."
Barone described the track sessions, which include between 30 and 40 vehicles, as non-competitive and highly controlled.
McFadden, a member of the club for approximately 18 months, called the race track events one the club's strongest draws. Passing is only allowed in certain sections of the track and only after the trailing driver receives a signal from the lead driver, according to Barone.
The experience can be very frightening at first," he said. "Pushing the car past the limits imposed on the regular road can be very intimidating. Through the lens of experience, I don't think I was driving that fast the first time I was on the track."
Drivers are grouped into five groups by experience and skill, according to Barone.
He said new drivers are accompanied by driver educators who provide in-car instruction.
Crashes and injuries are rare, according to Barone, a driver educator. "I enjoy doing this because you need to be very focused," he said. "There's a routine you have to go through at every turn."
The club will run a Tire Rack Street Survival event for young drivers on Oct. 5 in the parking lot at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown and on Oct 17 in Warminster, according to Walton. He said the organization is trying to create a charitable foundation to hold more events.
For more information on the Pennsylvania chapter of the Porsche Club of America, visit http://rtr-pca.org.