Porsches are “gay” but that’s okay because the GT2RS still slays.

Las Vegas Speedway

On a recent trip to one of the hottest places on the planet at one of the hottest times of year, I took a half-day out from my lovely family holiday to meet up with my man Jiran. Together, we raced some very fast cars around a very small racetrack. Of course, we had a very good time, but what did we discover about ourselves, and more importantly, about the “supercars” we drove?

Well, aside from the simply staggering abuses that these rentals endure in their short, savaged lives,i Jiran discovered that being younger doesn’t always mean being faster, and I discovered that I’m a GT2RS kind of guy! 

Porsche 991 GT2RS at Exotics Racing July 2022 - 1

I won’t pretend to speak more for my Persian driving companion, but as far as the cars we drove that hot, hot day in Las Vegas were concerned, the GT3RS felt agile if underpowered,ii the 488 GTB felt punchy if numb, the Huracan STO felt like a slightly more powerful 3RS but with worse visibility… and then there was the bumblebee-yellow Porsche 991.2 GT2RS in all its rear-engined twin-turbocharged glory. With a perfectly-sized steering wheel, bracing bucket seats, and compact overall dimensions, it was the seemingly ideal instrument with which to attack the 2.1 km Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) circuit. And it was just that!

LVMS, set-up in its safest and most tourist-friendly configuration, was best enjoyed in the 2RS that day, not least of all because it was in that seat that I serendipitously stumbled into a little game of cat-and-mouse. While I’d been passing cars all day, I suddenly came up to behind a yellow Lamborghini Huracan that was actually on the move. I would’ve passed him too but I was soon informed by my right-seat driving coach that the Huracan was in fact being piloted by one of the rental company’s other driving coaches in a “ride along” and it would be very bad optics for the “pro” driver going “fast” if he was passed by some schmuck just learning the ropes.

And I really was a schmuck! Even if I was in the more powerful car, I’d never driven a 2RS before that day (nor any Porsche GT product on track), I’d probably only done 20 trackdays in my life to that point (almost all of which were at Strawberry Creek Raceway), and I’d only seen LVMS for maybe 20 laps amidst pretty heavy traffic, so I just soaked up the compliment and kept on the gas. I must’ve been doing something right…

Porsche 991 GT2RS at Exotics Racing July 2022 - 2

It sure felt like it behind the wheel! With the 2RS, it finally felt like I was driving something with some chutzpah. Going from the 3RS to 488 to STO and finally to the 2RS, only the last one felt like it had enough oomph and control and feedback. With 690hp under my right foot, I was able to hit 209 kph on the front straight (30 kph faster than with the 3RS), so not too shabby at all. The 2RS wasn’t just a muscle car either; the steering was invisible (in a good way), the front end light and precise, the brakes strong and capable, the rear-enginedness minimal,iii the rear-wheel steering unobtrusive,iv and the whole package just worked together, at least at the 8.5/10ths I felt comfortable driving a new-to-me car on a new-to-me track. With the 2RS in my corner, I really did have the most splendid time chasing that Huracan! Smiling was apparently beneficial for lap times too, because I managed to work my way up to the top of the day’s leaderboard in those few laps, only 3-4 seconds off the pace of what the very best can do with that car on that circuit.

Debriefing and digesting the GT2RS experience, I could but contrast what was easily the pinnacle of that day with my now-decade-old R35 GT-R back home. And would you believe there wasn’t that much between them? Of course, fitted with every available suspension and braking component from SPL, DSC, AP Racing, Eibach, and Top Secret – my “Nagata Knock-Off”v might be expected to shine brightly against the all-too-stock competition in Las Vegas, but one is still a lowly Nissan and its closest competitor is a far-more-prestigious Porsche, right? Yes, but comparing my highly-personalised-to-the-point-of-being-basically-unsellable R35, why would I pay 500% more just to save 500 lbs. with the Stuttgart Steed when they’re both basically as fast and about as rewarding to drive?

But Pete, you chortle, think of all the paint-to-sample colour code conversations and seating insert pattern debates you’re missing out on!?!!?!?! Snarkiness aside, if money weren’t an issue (which it isn’t, at least at this level), shouldn’t I just spring for the extra glitz ’n’ glam of the P-car and live my life a little? Well, not so fast, Timmy, let’s think this through. If I’m going to go to the trouble of further alienating myself from my humble social milieu and seriously “level-up” my trackday game, is the GT2RS how I’d want to shoot my shot?

When I asked this exact question to none other than renowned Substacker J. Baruth,vi he replied rather bluntly and probably quite correctly: “Always get the Ferrari. Porsches are gay. They’re the second choice for people who lack the money and swagger to drive Ferraris.” That being the case, I might as well just skip the “normal” next step on the ladder – as I tend to do anyways – and hop straight into an F-car.

But which Ferrari will I be picking for my dream 2023/2024 garage? Well it sure as hell won’t be a bog standard 488 GTB, and I can’t imagine that a 458 Italia or even 296 GTB would measure up much better for my trackday use-case… so a 458 Speciale or 488 Pista then? I’m not so sure that they’d be any better suited to my lanky frame and excessively elitist demeanour either.vii Which leaves us with the 488 Challenge Evo. At 3`000 lbs and fitted with a twin-turbo 3.9L V8 making 670hp, it feels just about right on paper, y’know?

But before adding a 488 Challenge Evo to my stable, I’ll be back in Vegas to try one out for a few laps. Let’s just hope it’s working that day. And that Jiran is free to join me.

Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo

___ ___ ___

  1. When it’s 47°C in the shade, it’s fully 60°C in the unforgiving desert sun. And these cars are being run fairly all-out, day after day, by a huge spectrum of drivers of widely varying abilities. Some drivers have 100 trackdays under their belts at the world’s most challenging venues, but most have never driven anything racier than a county fair go-kart, but neither end of the spectrum is easy on these poor rental cars. Pour out a glass for the engineers whose unwitting masterpieces are tortured so! Was it any wonder, then, that so many of these street-oriented mid-engined “performance cars” needed to have water hosed onto their radiators between sessions? And that over half of the cars we’d booked for the day were down for maintenance, including the Porsche 992 GT3, Ferrari 488 Pista, Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, Ferrari SF90, and McLaren 570 GT4?

    Talking to the driver coaches to try to find out a bit more about what’s reliable and what isn’t, it quickly became apparent that it was just different levels of nearly indistinguishable shit and that being a driving coach and ride-along expert mostly meant that you were a full-time vehicular executioner. Taking this at face value brought two things to mind: 1) what a fascinating business model, and 2) who’s the poor sucker buying these after?

  2. Maybe the 3RS is just better suited to life on Mars? Not that Las Vegas is such a different landscape from our nearest neighbouring planet…

    shangri-la mars

  3. Of course the 911 becomes less and less of the proverbial “ass-engined Nazi slot car” with every subsequent generation, to the point where it’s really borderline mid-engined at this point.
  4. Unlike the RWS in the 3RS, though it’s possible it just took me some more laps to get used to the tail-mediated turn-in.
  5. For those living in complete darkness, Smoky Nagata doesn’t just flout our stupid speed laws, he builds some of the most bad-ass GT-Rs on the planet (archived).
  6. I’ve been regularly reading Jack’s automotive musings for nearly 15 years now, but the most ironic part is that I’m now the age that he was when he started writing his infamous Avoidable Contract series for Speed:Sport:Life. The life that I share on these pages is arguably more interesting than average, but I assure you that it’s nothing compared to that Hemmingway of Ohio. Don’t believe me? Subscribe to his Substack! Or even just start by reading his old SSL articles fuh phree
  7. You think the dudes who drive their Speciales and Pistas to the golf club are unbearably elitist? Just wait till you meet the guy who pedal bikes shirtless down to the golf club on Tuesday and then drives his G 4×4² to tow his 488 Challenge Evo out to the track on Wednesday. Which of these guys do you think actually fucks?

5 thoughts on “Porsches are “gay” but that’s okay because the GT2RS still slays.

  1. […] “synthetic fuel” combustion vehicles beyond the proposed 2035 ICE ban.vii At the same time, Porsche has been investing in (and promoting the socks off of) “zero carbon e-fuels”,viii which we can […]

  2. […] the other hand, tell that to the GT2RS that isn’t in my garage as a result. Talk about […]

  3. […] life, including our increasingly decadent obsession with minutiae, all mediated by increasingly engrossing entertainment.xii So what have we to fear but fear […]

  4. […] as a family for last year’s Ninja Warrior competition. But at least Vegas has great food and wide-open racetracks, if exactly the same issues of too many people in too small of an area in too hot of a climate with […]

  5. […] believe that Porsche makes a fine art of playing its customers like flutes in a manner that only Ferrari before it has? So it is that “speccing” is akin to telling Santa exactly what you want […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *