- Porsche has built a new track at its Experience Center in Atlanta, which will open to the public on April 1.
- The track includes corners meant to emulate the famous Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, Bus Stop at Daytona, and Karussell at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
- We sampled the track at a recent media event, along with other features such as a wet skidpad and an autocross course.
Seven thousand five hundred miles. That’s about how far you would’ve needed to travel to drive the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, scythe through the Bus Stop chicane at Daytona, and slingshot around the Karussell at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife—until now. On April 1, a new track at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta that includes re-creations of all three iconic corners will open to the public, part of a multimillion-dollar expansion at Porsche’s North American headquarters.
Since its launch in 2015, the Experience Center has hosted almost 400,000 visitors, according to Porsche. The facility had featured a handling circuit, a restaurant, a gift shop, and a small museum space displaying classic Porsches, but it now adds a new course designed by Hermann Tilke, who has been the brain behind several Formula 1 track layouts such as the Bahrain International Circuit. The 1.3-mile West Track will be used for 90-minute one-on-one lessons in Porsche’s sports cars and can be combined with the original circuit or run on its own, which is how we experienced it during a media event ahead of the official opening.
We drove the course in a variety of Porsches—including a 911 GT3 and a Taycan—and also experienced it from the passenger seat of the 1073-hp 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance prototype, which we first rode along in at Porsche’s Experience Center in Franciacorta, Italy, last year. While the new Atlanta circuit doesn’t have a straight section quite as long as in Italy—where we saw the ePerformance top out around 150 mph—it feels more dynamic due to its hilly topography.
The Track Experience
Exiting the pits, you climb through a series of quick esses before dropping back down for a sharp 90-degree right hander. You then ascend 30 feet to the Laguna Seca–like Corkscrew, which features a stomach-churning 25-foot drop through the chicane. A twisty section on the back half of the track emulates the famous Tail of the Dragon road in the Great Smoky Mountains, before you get to the bumpy and banked Carousel (Porsche opts to use the English spelling), which tries its hardest to unsettle the chassis.
Within the confines of the West Track are three other setups that will support other driving lessons. A skidpad, which Porsche calls a low-friction circle, with wet, polished concrete covers 196 feet in diameter and allows drivers to explore the limits of grip and learn how to manage understeer and oversteer. We spent our time on the skidpad holding a prolonged drift in a 718 Cayman GT4 with a goofy grin plastered across our face.
Climbing Ice Hill
There is also the Ice Hill, which mimics an icy climb that one might encounter in the wintry months in the northern United States. Tackling its 8 percent slope and watered, polished surface teaches drivers how to smoothly apply throttle, brakes, and steering input in dicey conditions. We sampled it in a variety of cars: a rear-wheel-drive Cayman required a delicate right foot to make it up the hill, while an all-wheel-drive Macan allowed us to execute drifts while easily remaining in control.
Lastly, an autocross course with cones in an expansive paved area allows for a variety of lessons, from practicing launches and heavy braking to precise steering in tight corners. We tested the launch control in a glorious-sounding 911 GT3 and in the hushed but face-melting Taycan Turbo S.
When combined with all available track surfaces—including the original circuit—the new handling course forms part of a 2.9-mile road. The track will be open to both Porsche owners and others, and the Experience Center sits just a few miles away from the busy Atlanta International Airport.
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Associate News Editor
Caleb Miller began blogging about cars at 13 years old, and he realized his dream of writing for a car magazine after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University and joining the Car and Driver team. He loves quirky and obscure autos, aiming to one day own something bizarre like a Nissan S-Cargo, and is an avid motorsports fan.