We’re in Carson, California today to tour the newly opened Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles (PECLA) and drive on its test track. We’ll also tour the new home of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), which shares its space with PECLA. Located approximately 17 miles south of downtown L.A., adjacent to the 405 and 110 Freeways on the site of the old Dominguez Hills Golf Course, this facility is the second Porsche Experience Center in the United States. The first, which houses the Porsche Cars North America headquarters, opened at One Porsche Drive in Atlanta in May 2015.
Like the East Coast center, this facility has a driver development track, a simulator lab, a cafe, a restaurant, a business center, and a Porsche Exclusive Design Studio. The L.A. center is, however, built on a much larger plot of land than the one in Atlanta. Covering 53 acres, PECLA is situated on practically twice as much space as the 27-acre Atlanta campus. This extra room allowed Porsche to add features like a high-speed straightaway and larger modules on the development track.
As we pull up in front of PECLA, we find the exterior of the facility looks like a modern, if understated, racing shop. Walking through the front door, we see an array of especially desirable Porsches, including an original Gulf-liveried 917, a new 911 R, and the 1983 Gruppe B 959 concept car. Through a large glass wall to our right is the shop floor space for PMNA. In there, we spot an RS Spyder that was once run by Penske Racing and a Löwenbräu-sponsored Holbert Racing 962. While there is enough automotive eye candy on hand to ogle indefinitely, there is something motivating us to leave this hall of legendary machines quickly: a morning of driving on the test track.
To the Track
PECLA’s driver development track consists of eight modules designed to replicate a variety of driving conditions. There’s an “ice” hill, a low friction handling course, a kick plate, a low friction circle (aka a wet skid pad), an off-road course, a handling course, and an acceleration straightaway. Add those up and you end up with seven modules. Porsche says eight because the handling course can be split into an Outer and Inner loop. Now, let’s get behind the wheel of some Porsches and feel this place out!
1) Ice Hill
We buckle into a new 2017 718 Boxster (982) S with a seven-speed PDK transmission and set off for the track’s ice hill. Wait, ice in sunny Southern California? Nah. This portion of the test track is a slippery 7 percent slope that’s finished in simulated ice (i.e. polished concrete that’s wetted down by the track’s 88,000-gallon recycled water supply). At the bottom of the hill is a right-hand turn that’s designed to produce the driving experience of an understeering car (i.e. when traction is lost at the front wheels and a turn is taken less sharply than intended) on an icy road.