“This car is unlike anything you’ve ever driven,” my instructor said over the roar of a 560 horsepower engine. That could be the understatement of the year. I was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo around the inside track of Daytona International Speedway, and kept saying to myself, “Wow, he’s not kidding.”
Of course this didn’t happen by chance. I was there on an invite by Exotic Driving Experience, a company that lets you live out your dreams and get behind the wheel of a Supercar on some of America’s greatest racetracks. Even though I took the Gallardo around Daytona, you could take a Ferrari 458 around Charlotte Motor Speedway or an Aston Martin Virage around Texas Motor Speedway.
You start off by booking the car you would like to drive. Check their site for dates and availability. The day of, after signing the necessary paperwork, you start off with a safety briefing video hosted by famed driver Christian Fittipaldi. Our instructor then played a video of the actual track we would be driving on, three laps explaining the braking zones, cones, and turns of the 1.06 mile long track. It’s important to pay attention, but don’t worry about memorizing the course; you’ll still have an instructor in the passenger seat guiding the way.
Once on the track, you start by meeting your instructor and getting a good look at the car. These Supercars are impressive up close. After a few pictures and one more quick safety briefing (“Brake” means “BRAKE!”), it was time to strap on a helmet and get behind the wheel.
Out of pit road, you are in full control of the car. You can go as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable with, and the ride along instructor is there to help you take those corners like a pro. “Start your turn now”, “Hit the apex of the corner”, “Give it the gas”, and “Start braking” are some of the simple instructions offered. I was a bit intimidated at first, but by the 3rd lap I was already thinking about going pro (well, maybe not).
My only complaint is that the ride was over too soon! The standard package for driving includes 6 laps, but additional lap upgrades are available. If you want the thrill of the ride, but don’t feel comfortable driving yourself, 2 Lap Thrill Rides are also available (riders must be 14+ years old). The Thrill Rides put you in the passenger seat while a trained instructor opens it up around the course.
The Exotic Driving Experience starts at $169 for their “cheapest” ride – a $90,000 Nissan GT-R which still goes from 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds. You can see a full list of cars available here and a full list of tracks here.
I have mentioned this experience to several folks, travelers and non-travelers, male and female, and the consensus is this is a very unique gift idea for guys weekends, bachelor parties, birthdays, and even for us gals. Except for the helmet-head hairstyle when I was done, I loved the experience!
Thanks to the Exotic Driving Experience for hosting me.