One Porsche Drive

One Porsche Drive


Thanks to Porsche Hill Descent Control and an instructor on board, the Cayenne masters every challenge on the off-road course.

Hear, see, feel, smell, drive: the new U.S. headquarters and Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta.

The building complex on the outskirts of Atlanta shines in the Porsche color Grand Prix White. The new North American headquarters is an impressive structure, including offices, workshops, a museum, and a restaurant. Behind it, a 2.6-kilometer driver development track awaits, offering customers an intimate and in-depth experience of the capabilities of Porsche’s products. As opposed to the surrounding roads and highways, there’s no speed limit to worry about here.

The building on the hill plays with the topography. Even though the main entrance is on ground level, employees and visitors alike find themselves several meters above the ground after crossing the expansive foyer. From above, they enjoy a view of the driving grounds, with its purpose-built, driver development track and the six interwoven driving modules: the Dynamics Area (designed for slalom, braking, and lane change exercises), the Kick Plate (hazard situations), the Low-Friction Circle (drifting), the Off-Road Course, the Low-Friction Handling Course, and the Turntable for power-sliding directly in front of the building. Not to mention one special trick the planners kept up their sleeves: a section of the 2.6-kilometer driver development track known as the von Platen straight runs through the building—after all, a Porsche sounds even more imposing when driving through a tunnel. The workshops are located below, as well as an atrium for parties and events. The new address sets the tone: One Porsche Drive.

“Of course you can always do a conventional test drive on the road as well,” says Bernd Pfau. The architect in the central construction management department of Porsche AG is responsible for international projects. He explains the difference: “Only a real test drive on a custom-built demonstration track can give you a full sense of the capabilities of a high-performance Porsche vehicle.” The customer-accessible driver development track is the heart of the Porsche Experience Center (PEC) in Atlanta, and is integrated in the headquarters itself. Porsche moved into the new headquarters and brand experience center in the geographically well-situated urban center of Atlanta, Georgia, in early 2015.


Curves in the background: The administrative building on the track houses 450 Porsche Cars North America employees.


From the Low-Friction Handling Course to the Kick Plate—the Porsche Experience Center covers every driving discipline.

Beyond the fence of the grounds, planes take off every thirty seconds. Passengers thus have a spectacular view of the new Porsche complex and the track when they land—a fact that was not lost on the planners of the building and the driving areas of the Experience Center. With its five runways and over 900,000 takeoffs and landings per year, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the largest airport in the world: 207 gates, 96 million passengers, and 600,000 metric tons of cargo annually. In a country of vast distances, Atlanta, located 400 kilometers inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is the primary reloading and transfer hub for southern destinations along the East Coast and inland. Porsche’s Executive Board member for Sales and Marketing Detlev von Platen, who was head of Porsche Cars North America at the time the Experience Center was opened, gestures towards the mega-airport; there’s no doubt that he is a big fan of the new neighborhood. From the entrance gate, it’s just a few minutes’ drive to the North American headquarters on the northeastern periphery of the airport. Porsche is a destination in itself: “At the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, we bring customers, dealers, guests, and employees together in an absolutely unique way,” says von Platen, pointing out the central and highly visible location.

Some 100 million dollars were invested to develop the 11-hectare grounds. One Porsche Drive comprises workspace and offices for 450 employees, 1,200 square meters of conference and event space, a training center for technicians, the classic car restoration workshop, the customer center, which includes an impressive heritage display of select museum cars, shops, as well as the gourmet restaurant 356—a culinary gem with the most auspicious of all possible names for a Porsche restaurant on North American soil.

Three numbers that represent not only the forefather of all Porsche models, but the first true cornerstone of an astonishing company and brand history. A little refresher: the astounding success of the Porsche 356 on the U.S. market was the coup that solidified the presence of the young brand in the 1950s. The racing acumen of the small, lightweight sports car in hill climb events and on the track enabled Porsche to race into the hearts of car lovers and racing aficionados across America.


One Porsche Drive is just a few minutes’ drive northeast of Atlanta Airport.


From up in the air, there’s a perfect view of the new Porsche complex and the handling course.

From this perspective, the Porsche Experience Center and its driver development track in Atlanta is just the latest chapter in a transatlantic love story. A relationship that is embraced with great passion on both sides of the pond. With more than 117,000 members, the Porsche Club of America (PCA) is the largest association of Porsche drivers and the largest single-brand club in the world. Divided into 13 zones and 144 regions, the PCA organizes some 3,500 events each year. It’s a fact much appreciated by the Porsche family: at every major event, one of its members is on hand to personally represent the brand and the company.

Sports cars and fun are practically synonymous in the States. Some 30,000 Porsche drivers and prospective buyers are expected to put the cars through their paces at the Porsche Experience Center annually. The technical composition and unique ingredients that make every Porsche special, up close, and personal: ready to be smelled, felt, seen, heard—and experienced.

And not only there, but worldwide. Several PEC tracks are already operating around the globe. For the Leipzig plant, for example, Formula 1 architect Hermann Tilke designed a circuit whose sections reference the most important circuits in the world. At Silverstone and Le Mans, the experience tracks have been directly integrated into the context of motor racing history. Experience Centers will open in Shanghai and Carson, California in the coming year. “The tracks are not simply race courses or training grounds of the sort one knows from automobile clubs,” says Porsche architect Bernd Pfau. “They are custom-built tracks designed to emphasize our core brand values: driving dynamics, performance, perfection.” After all, that’s what the Porsche experience is all about.

By Oskar Weber

Culinary attractions


Reminiscences of the classic sports car in 356.

Gourmet delights amid shift levers and houndstooth

One Porsche Drive offers customers a complete experience: from the delivery of a new car as of early 2016, a visit to the heritage center, and the restoration of classic cars to driver safety training and even the possibility of renting space in the Business Center for conferences.

The culinary highlights are provided by the Carrera Café and the gourmet restaurant 356. The café serves hot and cold beverages as well as snacks in an alluring Porsche atmosphere: the ceiling lights, for example, represent the shapes of the shift levers of vintage 911 models, the decor takes up the houndstooth pattern of the upholstery of the 1960s, and the pillars bear historic racing motifs.

The interior design of the restaurant is inspired by the design of its namesake, the Porsche 356. The restaurant treats its guests to a direct view of runway 08L/26R at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The menu features exquisite seasonal dishes; Porsche’s traditional attention to detail ensures that the ingredients are locally sourced. The wine list, by contrast, contains products from all the storied wine-producing regions of the world.

The birth of a Porsche track

“Every track is unique”

He’s the master of race and test tracks: civil engineer Hermann Tilke explains the nuts and bolts of designing a Porsche Experience Center track.

Mr. Tilke, what distinguishes a test track from a race track?
Well, a Porsche Experience Center has elements of both. Here the primary objective is to give the driver a sense of the performance that a Porsche is capable of and how the vehicle systems work. That’s why we have the various modules.

To what extent does that impact the layout of the track?
It has to meet the different requirements that are demanded of the grounds. Take the Porsche Sport Driving School, for example, whose courses cover everything from basic training to acquiring a racing license. The track has to be designed to meet that diverse range of needs.

Experience probably doesn’t hurt.
No (laughing). The fact that I have designed any number of Grand Prix tracks, test tracks and testing grounds, not to mention ordinary roads, is extremely helpful. But at the end of the day, every track is unique.

So a standard layout for experience centers wouldn’t be conceivable?
Not really. You can’t simply ignore the configuration of the space available, let alone the topography. Porsche wants to provide a three-dimensional driving experience. That means there always have to be changes in elevation—not just for the off-road course, but for the asphalt tracks as well. Where the natural topography doesn’t offer that, for instance at the future Porsche Experience Center in Carson, California, we shape it ourselves.


Hermann Tilke (60) has been building race tracks for 30 years, including Formula 1 tracks.

How do you approach designing a new track?
First, the course is simulated on a computer using a 3D model. We use GPS data for that. Absolute precision is of the essence; after all, the curve radius, for example, impacts the speeds that can be driven on the track. I’ll never forget the planning for the track at the Leipzig plant. Integrating world-renowned race tracks and their characteristic sections was a special challenge.

What do you have to keep in mind with asphalt in terms of the huge stresses?
The important thing is to ensure that you have realistic conditions with the right mix in terms of grip and tire wear. The asphalt that we use for the Experience Centers is comparable to that used on normal roads. Of course, that’s not the case for the wet handling sections. We have various options for the surface composition, depending on which driving maneuvers and speeds are planned: from polished concrete to epoxy to bituminous surfaces.

Speaking of active safety, why is wet handling so important?
This section not only allows drivers to improve their own skills and awareness, but also learn how the car’s assistance systems react in extreme situations. Active safety is incredibly important, particularly in high-performance sports cars. In Atlanta, for example, it’s not common to put winter tires on a car. Since it hardly ever snows there, you usually don’t need them. I remember a winter day, however, when it snowed so much that the entire city shut down. We were on the road in a Porsche and made good use of the entire range of assistance systems.

A scenario that is probably rather unlikely in Shanghai, for example.
Right, or in Carson. In Leipzig, on the other hand, snow is part of the everyday driving experience. Every region has different conditions, so every track is unique as well.

Unlimited Driving Pleasure

In addition to the Experience Center in Atlanta, Porsche has demonstration tracks in Leipzig, Silverstone, and Le Mans. In 2016 two more will be added, with centers in Shanghai and Los Angeles.

Atlanta (U.S.)

American Headquarters


1 Turntable for power-sliding in front of the building.

2 Kick Plate: the hydraulic Kick Plate causes the vehicle to oversteer to the right or left on a wet, low-friction surface with varying intensity. The driver can experience the effect of electronic stability control, and also practice countersteering and improve his reaction time when the systems are switched off.

3 Driver development track: the course resembles a country road with numerous curves. With a professional instructor at his side, the driver can improve his driving skills and practice smooth and precise steering, braking, and acceleration, also allowing him to experience the capabilities of a Porsche in great detail. A hot lap with a professional instructor is also available.

4 Dynamics Area: the Dynamics Area provides space for slalom, full-force braking, and lane-change exercises.

5 Low-Friction Circle: a flat circular track with a polished concrete surface and uniform inward slope designed so drivers can experience over- and understeer as well as drifting.

6 Low-Friction Handling Course: a tight course with a polished concrete surface and on- and off-camber corners designed for drifting.

7 Off-road Course: 21 off-road disciplines including a creek bed and a 45° vertical descent.


Los Angeles (U.S.)

Motor Racing Center

In Carson, CA near Los Angeles, with the PEC West a second Porsche Experience Center is being built in the U.S. Located close to Los Angeles International Airport between the 405 and 110 freeways, the center will include a driver development track and a challenging off-road course. It will provide a home for the headquarters of Porsche Motorsport North America and classic car restoration.


Shanghai (CHN)

Continental Drift

With the Porsche Experience Center in Shanghai, Porsche will open the first facility in Asia this coming spring. It is immediately adjacent to Shanghai International Circuit, a Formula 1 track. The nearly 100,000-square meter grounds will include all driving tests, from the handling circuit to a dynamics area and a low-friction circle.


Le Mans (F)

Legendary Status

The Experience Center located at the 2.9-kilometer Maison Blanche race track opened in June 2015 and offers a handling circuit, various driving modules, and an off-road course. At the heart of the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race track, customers can also pick up new vehicles, have their Porsche serviced, and visit the exclusive vehicle exhibition.


Silverstone (UK)

Versatility Course

The five-kilometer track is close to the race track at Silverstone and is characterized by its exceptional flexibility. It can be utilized in its entirety or in its individual sections: the handling course, straights, kick plate, ice hill, low-friction course, and off-road course. The customer center offers exhibition spaces, conference rooms, and a human performance center.


Leipzig (D)

Cornering Paradise

Eleven spectacular corners from world-renowned race tracks, such as the Suzuka S (Suzuka/JP) and the Parabolica (Monza/IT), are part of the 3.7-kilometer circuit. The new dynamics course (2.2 kilometers in length) in the infield includes a wet handling course and a low-friction circle that measures 120 meters in diameter. The off-road course offers 15 different components.