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  • Writer's pictureThe Bone Guys

The Porsche Experience Center

What does it feel like to rocket from 0-to-105-mph in the span of a few seconds?

We got the answer last month at The Porsche Experience Center in Carson.

Comfortably kicked back in the passenger seat of a jet-black Porsche 911, we were driven to the precipice of a state-of-the-art racetrack by a veteran driver named Dave.

Our chatter was easy-going, as Dave mostly asked about any previous track experience we may have had. Though in hindsight, he may have had a mischievous gleam in his eye the entire time.

Then came a sudden punch to the gut.

Dave put his foot down and accelerated onto the straight. Our stomach was rapidly sucked back to a peculiar position closely hugging the spine. Or so it felt.

This was primal fear rooted not in the mind, but in every cell of the body, screeching out as the first hairpin turn loomed before us like a colossal concrete monster starving to squash our cute little sports car.

Dave surgically finessed the hairpin turn and every curve that followed. Slowly our iron grip on the armrest slackened and we were even able to enjoy the lightning paced tour of the track.

Then it our spouse’s turn for a ride. We headed to an al fresco bar for a cocktail with a heavy ball of ice that resembled a globe, enjoying thoughts of our beloved waltzing with both glee and terror back in the black 911.

The Porsche Experience Center is a multi-faceted concept hinged between Los Angeles and Orange County. Not only does it offer test-driving experiences and driving education workshops for Porsche lovers (as well as the Porsche-curious), it also contains a fine-dining restaurant and various event spaces tailored with the European sophistication and striking design auto-lovers expect from the eminent German car brand.

This combination of adrenaline-spiking action and well-appointed hospitality makes it an ideal destination for corporate events, client meetings, birthday or bachelor/ette parties or even just a day-off of work that you’ll never forget.

And though owners are welcome to make reservations to bring their own Porsches, or spend hours combing through historical Porsche archives, one doesn’t even need to know to how to spell “car” to book an experience here.

The 53-acre track allows beginners to have their first experience driving or riding on a world-class racetrack in a Porsche. These adventures can be guided by an expert, like good ol’ Dave. Or part of an lesson where you get instructed in driving before taking the wheel yourself with a Dave in the passenger seat. Both are thrilling.

More experienced drivers can, as mentioned, book the course for their own Porsches. Or have fun trying the course with a range of cars, including the 718 Cayman, the Macan or a GT3. You can learn to master a manual transmission and even get video recording with analysis if you’re looking to race faster or sharper.

But the most interesting part, no less for a region so dependent on the automobile, are classes that teach you how to become a better driver under hazardous conditions. By which we mean a driver development program that simulates extreme vertical angles and rough weather conditions.

They can teach you how to keep your cool when your tires stall from wet concrete or when climbing an icy 7% slope. Or how to stay in control when climbing a hill so steep, you’re think your car may do a backflip. There are also sections to work on your off-roading or straight acceleration skills.

No matter what you choose, you’ll be moving faster than the 405, which is ironically adjacent to the Porsche Experience.

As part of these programs, the center also has simulators if you’d like to experience the thrills of driving an extremely powerful, fast ride without putting your life on the line.

Whichever way of feeling the G-Force you choose, options abound for a lot of screaming fun for new initiates and serious proficiency for anyone hoping to learn more about driving skillfully in Porsches.

The entire Porsche Center Experience is rather handsomely dressed. Meeting rooms, a cafe and common areas are heavy on leather, polished woods and framed driving memorabilia that aligns the brand’s legacy with its current offerings.

All of which leads to a second story restaurant called 917. Commanded by affable general manager Olivier Alexandre and helmed by classically trained chef Matt Lee, the restaurant is no mere afterthought or culinary version of the gift shop, but a dedicated restaurant highlighting true European refinement and hospitality.

It’s a place that could stand alone on the streets of Beverly Hills, if fine dining were still in the demand it once enjoyed. The interiors, inspired by Porsche’s winning 917 racecar, announce immediately that you’ve landed in a restaurant engineered for maximum comfort and leisure.

While this graciousness and attention to detail can be credited to Alexandre, a veteran of Patina Restaurant Group, the menu’s vision comes from Lee, the former executive chef at the Restaurant at the Getty.

First a basket of innovative breads arrives that is quickly overshadowed by two servings of butter, each shaped in the size and style of a Matchbox-sized Porsche. Next comes a procession of edible chimera, dishes crafted from a tempest of whimsy.

There’s beef tartare set off with green peppercorns, piquant peanut sauce and charcoal-toned crisps of tapioca, a textural playground balancing acid, spice and fat. Next come pristine Mission oysters supporting tiny, concentrated wedges of Mandarin in a splash of fennel mignonette.

Next there’s a small bite of King crab centered in a split coconut with morsels of pineapple in a green curry and the Sumatran spice blend known as Swarnadwipa; a medley of sweet brine and southeast Asian zest, the consistency complex and thoughtfully paired.

Our main course arrived in sliced steaks of U.S. Zabuton beef served in port reduction. We struggle to think of a more delicate form of meat that touched our lips in 2019. It was that good. Although, knowing Lee’s way with seafood, we feel the strong need to return for his sea bream with uni truffle butter. Dessert was a lovely array of fresh figs served with black currant sorbet, brioche and almond streusel.

Despite the Porsche name, the restaurant mostly avoids Porsche prices. While dishes are available a la carte, three-course and four-course prix fixe menus are $70 and $80, respectively, with wine pairings an extra $40. Speaking of wines, some of the bottles here happen to be as legendary as the cars.

Porsche is a name that, for many of us who don’t own the cars, can feel exclusive and foreboding. But the Porsche Experience Center, which many freeway commuters mistake for a mere dealership, wants to be open to Southern Californians across class lines.

Its purpose is to introduce everyone to the power and speed of its cars, regardless of who they are, to dem0nstrate why the brand has developed its reputation. Then it backs up that very standing with an exquisite dining room that keeps pace with its famous forebears.

Whether you want to (literally) blow the socks off of clients with a day at the races, learn how to handle a legendary sports car yourself or simply want a superlative dining experience with someone you love, The Porsche Experience Center is a fascination, exhilarating place to play at a majorly trafficked Southern California intersection.

Experiences can be booked on the website:

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