Hear, see, feel, smell, drive: the new U.S. headquarters and
The building complex on the outskirts of Atlanta shines in the
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
“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
Beyond the fence of the grounds, planes take off every thirty seconds. Passengers thus have a spectacular view of the new
Some 100 million dollars were invested to develop the 11-hectare grounds. One
Three numbers that represent not only the forefather of all
From this perspective, the
Sports cars and fun are practically synonymous in the States. Some 30,000
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
By Oskar Weber
The culinary highlights are provided by the
The interior design of the restaurant is inspired by the design of its namesake, the
He’s the master of race and test tracks: civil engineer Hermann Tilke explains the nuts and bolts of designing a
Mr. Tilke, what distinguishes a test track from a race track?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Motor Racing Center
In Carson, CA near Los Angeles, with the PEC West a second
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
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.
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.