$60M Porsche track in Carson lets drivers open up the throttle

Dave Kunz Image
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
$60M Porsche track in Carson lets drivers open up the throttle
The new Porsche Experience Center in Carson lets drivers zip along next to the 405 at speeds well above the freeway limit.

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- The speed limit on the 405 Freeway through Carson is 65 mph. You can go that fast - if you're lucky.

But there's some new pavement right next to it where speeds are much faster. It's the new West Coast version of the Porsche Experience Center.

Why put one here? Because "here" is where Porsches are very popular.

"Our image is actually very closely connected to California, and then financially, if we were to take California as a country, it would be No. 5 in the world in terms of its volume importance for Porsche," said Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars, North America.

Brand-new Porsches, with brand-new tracks to exercise them on. There's a road course, of course, and the high-speed run that parallels the lanes of the southbound 405. There's even an off-road section for the Cayenne and Macan SUVs, with challenging grades and obstacles to climb over.

But it's not all fun and games. It's learning to be a better driver, on simulated ice, or real recycled water, which causes cars to slip and slide on purpose. Overall, this 53-acre facility is about being able to do all these things in a safe environment.

"We are very aware of the fact that you will never be able to take a Porsche on public roads to the limit, or to experience what the car can really do," Zellmer noted.

Seat time starts at about $500, and prices go up from there, depending on the length of the course and which Porsche models are involved.

The Porsche Experience Center has been under construction next to the freeway in Carson for quite some time, and would seem like a simple place to build. There's only one large main building, which houses things like a restaurant, gift shop and meeting rooms.

That, plus the different road courses, took five years to build. Why? Because the acreage is on a former landfill, and dealing with possible toxic elements meant an extended construction time, and a final price tag of $60 million, according to Porsche.

"We wanted to make sure to adhere to all environmental regulations, and that took longer than expected," Zellmer said.

So it was a little late, and a lot more expensive. But now that Porsche's state-of-the-art facility is here in Southern California, they're promising an experience that surely beats the traffic on the 405 almost any day.