Sonne Porsche
Newsletter May 2004

Texas, Peru & Bonsai Run
by John Arafiles,

My wife Joni and I just returned from a visit to Texas where we had the opportunity to meet with PCA National Awards Chairperson, Lanean Hughes. Lanean also serves on the board of the PCA Maverick Region in Dallas, Texas, as Club Race Co-Chair, and is also the Hospitality and Charity Chair. The Maverick Region consists of approximately 1,200 members, of which about 150 members are active. Lanean and I "talked story" about our regions and swapped t-shirts and polo shirts as well.

Led by Lanean, the Maverick Region is deeply involved in charities, especially the Hope Shelter in North Texas. The shelter provides emergency refuge for victims of domestic violence and abuse. I must tell you, I was thoroughly impressed with their extensive charity program and would like to explore the possibility of the PCA-Hawai‘i becoming more involved in charities and community service. I hope some members in our region share my motivation to become more active in those areas. If so, I would like to hear from you. Please let me know of your thoughts and ideas concerning charities and community service.

Peru, an Andean Adventure
Texas was a stepping stone to our main objective which was a tour of beautiful Peru. Lima was our initial gateway into Peru and prepared us for our great Andean adventure. We rafted down the Urubamba River, which empties into the Amazon River and explored the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco (11,000 feet) and the breathtaking and ageless "Lost City of the Incas" at Machu Picchu. I recommend a visit to Peru for anyone who is looking for an exceptional adventure and wants a glimpse into the great Inca empire as it once was.

Bonsai Run, Sunday, May 9, 2004
This month we have the unique opportunity to discover the mini world of Bonsai trees. Beautifully displayed on 20 acres in Waimanalo and set against Mount Olomana and the Ko‘olau mountains, Walter Liew’s Hawai‘i Bonsai Cultural Center is the focus of our Sunday, May 9, PCA-Hawaii‘i event (see flyer). The center is home to one of the foremost Bonsai collections (reputed to be the largest in the world), with over 200 carefully shaped and maintained miniature trees.

Walter is the most knowledgeable English-speaking person committed to a form of Chinese Pen-Jing, which is an ancient art form that originated in China and is the predecessor of the Japanese Bonsai. Today, however the Japanese are the major influence on Bonsai.

For more information visit the following websites:


Is Autocross (Solo 2) the Track Event for
You and Your Porsche?
by Mike Cripps

I. What is autocross or Solo 2?

It is an exercise in car control which pays big dividends in safety on the road. It is an opportunity for us to test ourselves and our cars on a track. Perhaps the most important part is that the risk of injury to car and driver is quite low, primarily due to the fact that the car is almost continuously turning, braking, or setting up for a turn. Speeds are the same as those encountered on the streets. The boundaries are plastic traffic cones instead of physical obstructions. With little possibility of damaging the car and an entry fee of about $25, the costs are as low as the risk. But the opportunity to improve one’s car control skills is high.

Imagine a course laid out with cones on a parking lot with plenty of run-off space. You stage in a line of cars in your class and when it’s your turn, you pull up to the starter’s flag. When he flags you on, you start calmly since the timer doesn’t pick you up till further into the course; no drag race starts needed. The first thing you notice is a sea of cones and you have to follow/find the course. Each time you knock down a cone the penalty is two seconds. You will probably get lost and miss the turn resulting in a DNF. If you find your way through, the start to finish will be less than a minute, and you will get two more runs with the best time counting for your results. So that’s the worst of it -- you get lost and slightly embarrassed, you hit some cones, you spin out and hit some cones, and you face the fact that life, again, is not like the movies. On the other hand, your times improve and you learn the course. You calm down and think more and lead-foot less. You smile for a long time. You ponder what it takes to get good at this game because you’ll be back.

II. More on the cone wars.

Autocross is not road racing. Besides its much higher safety factor, Solo 2 is car friendly. The slow speeds put much less stress on the car and tire wear seems quite acceptable though noticeable. Light, good handling cars do well and, like big high performance cars, keep to their own class. There is only one car on the course at a time anyway. The competition is much more with yourself. A typical autocross course will have maybe four times the turning as a road course where the outside gets used a lot to carry speed. The Solo 2 uses a lot of the inside to minimize distance. On the road course the important turn is the one before the straight to maximize speed. For autocross the important spot is the slowest turn because so much time is spent traveling a short distance yielding a fertile area for improvement. The Solo 2 course often requires you to give up speed in order to take the shorter route. The balance between speed and distance makes this a fast thinking game which you must try to figure out before getting into your car.

Thoughts before action: Here in Honolulu and on Maui, the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) puts on an autocross about every other month – currently at the Hawaii Raceway Park in Honolulu. It’s a very good thing to get there when registration opens. You will have to have your car tech inspected which is more for safety than class. The rest of the time you can walk the course. You can only walk the course, so do that as many times as possible. Make a sketch with your own shorthand for the various gates (turn indicators). Note where you will enter the turns, which side the cones will be on and try to memorize the course. Review the drawing while in your car at the staging area. Learning how to understand the course, to make your decisions, and to pre-visualize your drive is key because each outing will be a new course which you have never driven on. Learning to deal with these new courses in the game. You only get three shots at each.

When you walk the course, try not to socialize. Just concentrate on a short distance path that makes a smooth arching connection between the turns; there won’t be any straight lines to concern yourself with. Try closing your eyes at the end and mentally driving the course. Walk it again and visualize again until you run out of time. Review your notes and flow smoothly between turns with your eyes looking ahead to the next turn. Try looking ahead 2 gates (a pair of cones that you must pass through). Try mentally removing the nearer gate. Would this change your path to the next gate? If not, this gate has no impact on your course. If your path would be outside the removed gate to its right, you must pass just inside the cone with it on your right, etc.

For autocross, one tries to get half the turning done before reaching a turn cone (pre-turn). In fact, the question is, where is the tightest part of the turn? Often this is between cones, not at a cone, and is the slowest part of the turn (and therefore an area of fruitful improvement). Finally, the car will slow faster than it will accelerate and the braking occurs in a straight line before the turn, whereas the acceleration feeds slowly as the exit from the turn occurs.

Next: “Your Run from Start to Finish and the Constant Process of Evaluation”.

Interested in SCCA Autocross? See the SCCA Hawaii Region website for the schedule. Interested in standing at the corners for full course Solo I and wheel-to-wheel races? Watch the eyes of Scott Schulte, Ron Mishima, and Lindsey Akamu as they drive their 911’s real fast as an SCCA corner worker. Volunteers needed! Qualifies you for $25, 15 laps on the track in your Porsche.