The Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta welcomes you to explore and experience all that Porsche is. From leisurely lunches to elegant dinners in Restaurant 356, following time at the Driver Experience Track to the Simulation Lab, the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta is a destination spot for the lovers of fast cars, superb machinery and decadent experiences, no membership required.
I remember the very first time I saw a Porsche in person. It was cherry red and was waiting at a red light as I was coming up from the Metro station in Washington, during my first internship there. It was cold and blistery outside, but I was struck speechless. The sun glinted off of the curves of the dash that was dusted with salt and the residue of dried snow. It was a thing of beauty and in gorgeous contrast to the brownstones and cobblestone lined streets. It was the kind of vehicle that leaves an impression. I didn’t even know what is was other than a pretty Porsche that caught my eye.
A seed planted, memory made and an appreciation set, I had to hurry inside as the icy breeze reminded me to keep it moving. Fast forward fifteen years, the opportunity to attend the Girls Drive Conference with A Girls Guide to Cars landed in my inbox. It was the perfect opportunity to explore Atlanta, learn more about my craft, gain some experience on the track learning the technical aspects of driving from experts and spend time bonding with fellow auto writers. I made the necessary preparations and then headed on my way.
Where Is It?
From Dallas, the Porsche Experience Center (PEC) at One Porsche Drive is an easy two hour flight. One Porsche Drive, recognizable from Marvel lore as Avengers Headquarters, is situated less than 15 minutes from the Atlanta International Airport, the Driver Experience Track is visible from the runway. We arrived at the PEC just before lunch time, and I am so glad that we did.
What To Expect?
Lunch in the in-house fine dining destination, Restaurant 356, is not to be missed. Think elegantly set, yet unpretentious, multi-course dining rather than standard track concession stand faire set high above the cares of the ordinary day while being attended to by dedicated staff with an unparalleled view of the concurs and the rather spectacular Atlanta skyline that was dotted with the occasional plane taking off carrying travelers to unknown destinations. The meal began with Spinach Salad dressed in a bright citrus vinaigrette, topped with shaved cheese and sliced almonds. For my entrée, I chose the Seared Salmon with Roasted Vegetables in a light pan sauce of butter, garlic and white wine dressed with edible flowers. My fish was moist, tender with a well seasoned crust and a positively decadent sauce that begged for more bread to dip in it. Closing the meal, the table was laid with mini dessert boards that invited my tablemates and I to talk, share and swoon over mini truffles, tiny blueberry cakes dressed as petit fours and other treats that I was simply too full to sample.
After lunch, we headed downstairs to driver education class. I had been looking forward to driver training alll dayyy long, but I knew that I couldn’t return to Texas without treats from the Porsche Gift Shop. I found the most adorable rubber ducky dressed in Porsche racing gear for my youngest, and lapel pins for my bigs that are collecting them for their backpacks. I snagged a coffee from the Carrera Café — because why not?! — and then headed to class, coffee in hand, with the Porsche Experience Center Coaches.
Being one of the 68% of visitors to the PEC that do not own Porsche vehicle, I was all ears to learn about how to handle some of the magnificent vehicles presently on the planet. After the listening, it was time to put the training into practice. It was exhilarating, but also all about safe practice. I loved having a dedicated coach with me in each of the two vehicles that I drove — my favorite was the sunny yellow Caymen — it felt powerful and roared to life under my hands and handled like a dream. It was such a confidence-building treat to have an expert working with me, hands-on to improve my skills and to bring an extra bit of something extra to the adventure. I learned how to handle the cars on the track, under different conditions and experienced a taste of what these dynamic vehicles can do.
I found that Porsche vehicles while undeniably gorgeous, are definitely more than just a pretty ride. I discovered first hand that the Cayenne can handle absolutely horrendous terrains like split tracks, 70 degree inclines and 24 inches of water with ease. And in a controlled environment that is designed to let you feel what it is like to drive the curving streets of Monte Carlo or spinning in a low friction track, covered in water, right here in Atlanta, they are even more spectacular. By time, my track time was complete, I felt powerful, inspired and prepared to try my hand at other new experiences. The trip to Atlanta was worth that moment alone.
After the Driver Experience Track, I headed to the Driver Simulation Lab — still floating high from time on the Driver Experience Track. In this station, picture a virtual reality experience set in a machine that lets you feel and hear the sounds of the road and track. My Big Kids would have absolutely eaten this experience up. It is the stuff of race car dreams — you get the chance to compete with 6 of your closest friends in a virtual race to the finish line. It was awesome. I came in 6th. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and I’m more than willing to come back for another test run.
While you are there, don’t miss a stop by the Heritage Gallery and the Manufactaker Center. You’ll get an exclusive peek at Porsche vehicles through the years and gain an appreciation for the beauty, the excellence, the thought and the care that goes into every aspect of these vehicles from the paint colors to pebbling on the leather to the custom molding of the seats. It’s the fusion of art, engineering, history, technology and personalized detail brought to life in a range of superb vehicles.
Who Would Love This?
When asked who I thought would love this experience, my mind ran to thinking how awesome the Porsche Experience Center would make for a day date, birthdays or to celebrate a special day when you want to be treated like the special person that you are. A day here would make a fabulous gift idea for any car lover, motorhead, engineering or Marvel movie fan. I cannot wait to bring my children back to experience it. It will be a bonding experience that they will not soon forget.