It’s all about shapes. Rectangles, cones, and swirly whirly things, to be precise. Traffic cones are laid out on a suitable surface, in this case Eastern Creek International Raceway’s skidpan, to define a short course that must be traversed as quickly and accurately as possible. Competitors start from, and finish at, a stop, in garages defined by these almighty traffic cones. Time penalties are incurred for taking the wrong line through the course, or for knocking over cones.
And therein lies the pickle. The cones are laid out in an open racing space; there is no visual guide to remind a competitor of how they must be tackled. Competitors must remember the correct path through the cones, somehow manage to not get lost, and find their own fastest racing line through the course without inadvertently assaulting their cone overlords. It’s a challenge for the mind.
One course I raced on involved a complicated journey into the finishing garage, twisting and circling around seemingly endless traffic cones, only to have me chucking the car into reverse (it’s a good idea to do this via second) and careening back through the entire thing again. Backwards.
Motorkhanas are low speed adventures spent almost entirely in first gear. Throttle control is immensely important, as is learning to find the fast lines, and keep the car settled and composed; ready to turn on, and around, a dime. They’ll teach you how to slide the car, steering it with your right boot, or they may teach you that it’s faster not to.
It’s wonderful for teaching you car control; that mysterious art of learning to truly feel, understand, and predict all that your car has to tell you, and coax out the really quick times. I went for a ride with Mark Phelan’s son in their Autohaus prepared GT3, who seemed convinced that the handbrake was installed as a tool for going faster. This is why we drive Porsches – they have a lot to say, and immense potential to unlock when you really understand and can push them.
Motorkhanas are also a safer, more casual, and very social form of motorsport. They are low speed and held far away from walls, with only one car on the circuit at a time, so the penalties for spinning out are significantly reduced. It’s a wonderful way to get introduced to the sport, your car, and the people who make it such great fun. Each competitor does two runs on a circuit, lasting between 30 seconds and a minute each, so there is plenty of time to relax, get a great view of the action, and enjoy the good company of fellow motorsport enthusiasts.
We have put together a short video to give you a sense for the day, as well as a gallery of photographs. Enjoy!