Porsche Pilgrimage: Day 6 – Lafeyette to Atlanta

Taking a four-wheeled car to see stuff on two wheels.

Bradley Brownell

After the drive from Austin to Louisiana, I was exhausted, I set up my tent and crawled inside and of course I could not sleep. The humidity, mixed with a tent that is really good at keeping the elements out, conspired to make a very hot and sticky sleeping situation. Most of the campgrounds that I've booked have been right next to the highway, which is usually okay for creating white noise, which I generally need in order to get to sleep, but for some reason this particular night saw a lot of loud-piped motorcycles roar by. Otherwise, the KOA in Scott, LA is a very nice, very clean, and reasonably priced place to set up a camp for a night. Their showers received high marks. 

Getting back on the road nice and early, I set my sights on a more northern locale for the evening. My dad's side of the family lives in the Atlanta, GA area, and as mentioned before I was going to be attending my half-sister's graduation celebrations. So, Atlanta bound, I re-boarded my little yellow steed and plotted a course. As luck would have it, the course I plotted had a certain museum smack in the middle of it.

For some reason the 912E is having issues with a very low idle. The closer I get to sea level, the harder it is to get the car to idle properly. Here in the bayou country, the idle is impossibly low and lopey, requiring steady pressure on the accelerator pedal to keep the car running. When the throttle is open, or after the car has warmed up to full operating temperature, it seems to run perfectly fine. 

There isn't much going on in my head after I head out of Lafayette, just a constant bemoaning of my sleep deprived and caffeine addled brain. I-10 west to the pickup point, then nearly straight north. Louisiana becomes Mississippi becomes Alabama. Several hours pass, and yet it feels like no time at all. In the early afternoon I pull up to Barber Motorsports Park. Porsche hosts their Sport Driving School at this gorgeous track, and indeed they are holding sessions on the day I arrive, but things are just winding down as I park and pay for my museum ticket. Another reasonably priced museum at just $15, which is welcome when I'm burning through three-dozen gallons of fuel in a day. 

For those unfamiliar, the museum on the grounds of Barber is one of the world's most spectacular and complete collections of motorcycles in the world. Admittedly, I don't know shit from shinola when it comes to motorcycles and the culture involved therein, but a healthy appreciation for all things mechanical means I'm still quite intrigued and ready to learn. Besides, the way they house all of these motorcycles is almost as interesting as the bikes themselves. The five-story concrete spiral construction is fantastically complex, including a pillar of bikes on each of the four corners of the central freight elevator, and a motorcycle tree spiralling up the far side of the display. There are various track-oriented displays including a drag strip, a desert/mud racing scene, a vintage-style board track, and a facsimile of a section of the track at Daytona. 

Moreover, this place even has a few things for car-lovers, as the museum features a ridiculously complete collection of vintage Lotus-branded street and racing cars. Everything from the very first diminutive sports quad-cycles to world-championship Formula 1 cars. There are also Formula 1 cars from motorcycle manufacturer Dan Gurney and motorcycle racing world champion John Surtees. While not technically part of the museum's displays, you can see down into the workshops where Mr. Barber keeps his personal collection of automobiles, where more than a couple Porsches are present. 

Of everything in the museum, this remains probably my favorite display. This adorable little personal watercraft is a 1955 Vincent Amanda. Yes, the same company that built the world's fastest motorcycle also built a 2-horsepower single cylinder propeller-driven put put boat. I need it. Either that or the pristine 1983 Honda MB5, but only because I owned and rode one as a daily-commuter bike for a year when I lived in Atlanta. 

Of course, on my way out of the museum, I had to drop by the Porsche Sport Driving School to take a picture or two. They just don't build Porsches like they used to, but maybe that's a good thing. 

Bradley Brownell

Hop onto I-20 and head East until I arrive in Atlanta. Done for the day. Another long one in the books.