Friday morning, March 2, was spent at Las Vegas Motor Speedway north of town for my Ferrari 458 drive with Exotics Racing. They just moved to their own track outside the speedway instead of cramped in the infield of the oval. The fleet of cars was all lined up out front and it was a sight to behold. I got there plenty early to take photos of the cars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, oh my.
First we had a 20 minute instruction briefing on how things work, when to accelerate, when to brake, when to let faster cars behind you pass, how the instructor with you will enhance your experience. There are various cones on the track edges indicating the braking points and the turn apex to aim for. While giving his spiel, the guy had to pause every once in awhile as Richie, the drifting champion, could be heard just outside screeching tires around the first turn. Those wanting an extra experience can ride along with him around the track, going just a little faster than us. Okay, a lot faster.
Then we had a one lap tour around the 1.1 mile track in a Porsche Cayenne GTS SUV to get a lay of the track. I didn't know an SUV could corner that fast.
Then we get our helmet and head to our car. My instructor Paul was a very pleasant guy who recognized that I was too tall to fit in the car with the helmet on. So no helmet for me. They add a passenger side brake pedal to the cars for the instructor to use, kind of like drivers ed, but it didn't work in the 458 and there is no parking brake lever, so Paul couldn't stop us if I were to pass out.
Once a few cars cleared past, we set out on the track. Paul's focus is to free me from thinking too much buy constantly telling me when to up-shift, apply brakes, down-shift, turn in, accelerate, etc. He turned out to be indispensable as I would never have gone as fast as we did around the corners and accelerating out of them. It was an exhilarating experience. I purchased the minimum 5 laps but he gave me an extra one because of traffic. I even went faster than the Audi R8 in front of me and got to pass someone.
I doubt I could have done many more laps. I was getting a little nauseous at the end from the high-speed cornering. I also noticed that my foot was shaking at the same time I was accelerating on some of the corners. Race car driving would not have been a good career choice.
It was an unforgettable experience and Exotics Racing is a first-class operation all the way. In a couple of weeks they'll have a Mclaren MP4-12C in their fleet of 25 cars.
Jimmy Graham, the New Orleans Saints tight end, was in the group of drivers before me. He had an entourage with him and just towered over all of them. One big dude.