Journal: Porsche Engine Fires Lead to Photography

Porsche Engine Fires Lead to Photography

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
February 18, 2014
18 comments

Story and Photography by Alexander Bermudez

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or so I’ve been told!

Admittedly, my mother’s favorite expression wasn’t exactly the first sentence that came to mind when flames engulfed the back half of my car at Chuckwalla Valley Racetrack last year. However, the unavoidable down time that followed my catastrophic engine failure (I have my suspects, but the cause isn’t definite) presented the opportunity to give back to the Porsche Owner’s Club, an organization that transformed me from a reckless street racer, into a safe and competitive driver.

With the exception of the Track Steward, Kati James, and her army of corner workers, the POC is an all-volunteer club! Everyone from the President to the driving instructors, gladly donate their time in order to share their passion for motorsport with others. The same is true for the POC’s magazine, Velocity, whose editors are always looking for fresh photographic content. So once again, I picked up my camera and focused on the unique group of fanatical racers that comprise the Porsche Owner’s Club.

I must admit it wasn’t easy as there is nothing worse than watching your fellow POC racers from the sidelines. Seat time is everything in this game and with each passing lap, my competitors gained more of it, while I hopelessly scowled through the lens of my camera. And even though Hergesheimer Motorsports was working double time to rebuild my engine, I was still left with an abundance of time, not only to take the photographs you see here, but also to reflect on my POC adventure thus far.

It all started five years ago, when I walked into Magnus Walker’s downtown loft and boldly introduced myself! “Hi, I’m Alexander Bermudez and I just bought a Porsche,” I gleefully announced with a chimpanzee’s grin. Magnus didn’t skip a beat; he opened his garage and allowed a complete stranger, to salivate over his unique collection of early 911s. We talked for what seemed like hours about all things Porsche. Racing came up and before I knew it, we had agreed to meet at Willow Springs International Raceway, for the next POC driver’s clinic. So three weeks later there I was, at the track, new helmet in hand, with Magnus Walker as my instructor!

Needless to say it was an amazing weekend, full of early apexes and premature braking zones but still I came away from the experience knowing two things: first, that I definitely wanted to race with the Porsche Owner’s Club and second, my shiny new 997 garage queen, was certainly not the car to do it in! So after taking thirty-five years to accomplish my childhood dream of one day owning a Porsche, I quickly realized much to my horror, that I had in fact bought the wrong car! So it was back to the drawing board.

In spite of my enthusiasm, it was not until January of 2011 that I finally found myself back on track, this time in earnest ready to tackle the rigorous POC Driver Development Program. Eventually my apexes shifted, as did my braking zones, momentum became my friend and my times slowly dropped! Within a few months I obtained my PDS license, the first step towards cup racing but as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.

In order to go wheel to wheel racing in the POC, drivers must start in the Performance Driving Series, then graduate to Time Attack and finally, full-blown Cup Racing. After seventy three track days, countless sets of tires and what can only be described as the best two years of my life, I found myself where this story begins: racing at Chuckwalla Valley Racetrack when my engine, in spectacular fashion, hiccupped, then spat fire out the back before finally deciding to implode. But that, my friends, is racing. And the photographs here are the lemonade of my misfortune.

Today, the engine is back in the car, my camera is collecting dust and I am once again competing in the Cup Racing Series. It’s been a fabulous journey both, in the car and from the sidelines shooting. I only hope that these photos can convey the pure adrenaline that is the POC!

Editor’s note: We’ve featured one of Alexander’s cars before, The Growler, in a Your Car submission. To find out what it is, click here.

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Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

[quote]Since I’m located in Vancouver BC I’ll probably have to save up for a truck and trailer to do a glorious West Coast motoring round-trip.[/quote]
Beck, you certainly wouldn’t be the first! But in the interim I am sure there are options for you near Vancouver, I would be interested to know what you find?

Beck
Beck

Sorry Alex, not sure of what you were referring to. But if u were talking about the truck and trailer, quite honestly I won’t be able to afford the truck and trailer at the moment, nor do I have the space for them yet. This will be further down the road for sure. I’m turning 30 this year and hoping to be able to save up enough for all that I need to sustain my car life in the coming years. That said, this year I’m planning to go to the 25th anniversary of Miata event at Laguna Seca in… Read more »

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

I was referring to the truck and trailer, but I hear you, it starts adding up really quickly! Also, what I meant by options, was clubs you could run with near Vancouver. Laguna Seca is a really fun track, just make sure your car is below there 92 decibel sound limit… cheers!

Beck
Beck

Oh, sorry for the confusion there Alex. Anyhow, there are plenty of passion-fueled motoring clubs in Vancouver; most of them are auto-cross clubs that does trackdays as well. [url=”http://www.vcmc.ca/”]VCMC[/url] being our biggest one here and it consists of a great bunch of motorsport enthusiasts. Although, I haven’t been participating auto-X events these couple of years, it is definitely still a growing club especially after their last year’s [url=”https://www.facebook.com/TeamVCMC”]Team VCMC FR-S[/url] in the Scion FR-S Tuner Challenge. That being said, our only limitation at the moment would be the available venue locally. Currectly we only have Mission Raceway Park and it… Read more »

John McP
John McP

Beautiful pictures! Are there more of these posted anywhere? I especially love that brown #714–looks like a Singer.

Eric Oviatt
Eric Oviatt

Hey John, Alex has taken some great shots for my Flickr page! You can see some of them here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/93990307@N03/

Eric Oviatt
Eric Oviatt

[url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/93990307@N03/”]sorry, complete link here[/url]

Andrew Weyman
Andrew Weyman

John, check out https://www.facebook.com/PorscheOwnersClub for some more of Alex’s photos

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

Beck, Carolyn, Dustin and Andrew, I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

Beck
Beck

Thanks for another good read and the nicely shot recap pictures of the POC events! Would love to build a ST replica and perhaps join you guys someday.

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

Beck, building a ST is definitely on my bucket list too, but contrary to the club’s namesake, owning a Porsche is not a prerequisite, there are many other marques that run with the POC and as a firm believer in the idea that driver development is the most affective performance upgrade, I would encourage you to come out and take advantage of the POC driver clinics and their excellent one on one instruction, before committing to any particular project, thus avoiding the same mistakes I made!

Beck
Beck

Thanks for filling me in about the POC events and the invitation! I’m only driving a track-prepped Miata now; planning to work my way up to getting some proper licenses in the coming years. I’ll definitely move on to building either an Alfa GTA or a backdated 911 ST. Perhaps I’ll join you guys when I’m in my 40’s, by then I should be more wise than reckless as I’m now. Ha.

Cheers!

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

Beck, it sounds like you could be heading towards Spec Miata, I only hear good things about that class, with competitive fields in both NASA and SCCA. The Alpha club is very cool too, they are out at Willow Springs quite a bit. As for the Alfa GTA, well, lets just say I like your taste in cars!

Michael Stone
Michael Stone

Beck, I ran my Miata with the POC for about two years and had a wonderful experience doing so. I understand that the thought of bringing a Miata to a Porsche club seems weird at first, but everyone is very nice and supportive no matter what ride you bring. Good luck in your endeavors, but keep the POC in mind regardless of what you are driving.

Beck
Beck

Wow, thank you both for the warm welcome! I’ll surely make it out there to hang with POC guys one day, but since I’m located in Vancouver BC I’ll probably have to save up for a truck and trailer to do a glorious West Coast motoring round-trip.

Carolyn Pappas
Carolyn Pappas

Fun article, great pictures! Love the one of Bubba (blue 914-6).. Keep up the good work.

Andrew Weyman
Andrew Weyman

Alexander a great photographer. He is also a great driver and a very dedicated member of the Porsche Owners Club.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

Another great article Petrolicious and man i really love the pictures this time especially the ones that are captured in motion. It really gives a sense of what its like to be in these magnificent machines. I think Petrolicious gave me a serious case of the Porsche envy which i hope has no cure.;)