Porsche Engine Fires Lead to Photography
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.