All photos by Travis Snelling. Except the ones of me driving because that just wouldn't be possible now would it?
Quick, gentlemen: pick your favourite exotic car. Porsche? Aston Martin? Audi? Ferrari? Lamborghini? Now picture yourself driving one. Not just driving, though. Driving with the intention of making the tires screech, your hair stand on end and your heart beat through your chest. That's exactly the point at Exotics Racing, Las Vegas.
As you stand in the Exotics Racing garage at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway you'd be hard pressed to find anybody looking anywhere but at the lineup of polished & poised supercars. Two Ferraris, two Lambo Gallardos, an Audi R8 and an Aston Martin Vantage all side by side. Oh, and there's a Porsche Carrera 4 tacked on the end that somehow looks out of place next to its more elusive stablemates. This is a dream garage and the staff are just as giddy as everybody else in it. How couldn't they love their jobs when what they do consists of screaming around a racetrack all day, driving high end supercars the way they were meant to be driven?
With your car selected you move onto the briefing room with Karim, one of the racing instructors, and Chris, the head racing instructor, as they go over the fundamentals of racing & why you're there: to drive your car to its limit and get the most out of the experience. And they mean it. There's a rumour that one of the instructors riding shotgun once pushed somebody's knee down to force the accelerator because he wasn't going fast enough. With that in mind, we set out for the Hummer H2 ridealong for two laps with Chris as he showed us the racing lines and where to brake when we're out racing ourselves.
Given the choice between Porsche, Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari and Lamborghini, as I was, I had it narrowed down to the two cousins: Audi R8 & Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. If I had to decide between the two which one to buy, my money's going to Audi for a car that's based on the Gallardo platform but priced considerably less. But I wasn't there to buy a car. I was there to grab a car by the scruff of the neck and throw it around a track. So I went with Lamborghini because, well, how couldn't I? The 560 horsepower V10 bull that launches to 60mph (100kmh) in just 3.7 seconds was just so irresistible when lined up next to the rest. Everything else just seemed so civilian and ordinary. I see Vantages and R8s every day here in downtown Toronto. Ferraris, while a bit more rare, are still somewhat common. But the Lambo is truly a mean machine that I could never get enough of.
There's something to be said for the first time you get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, or any $245,000 car for that matter. Intimidating is an understatement. Especially while wearing a racing helmet. I was strapped in and ready and it wasn't unlike the feeling of waiting for a rollercoaster to start its ride while you sit in nervous anticipation. Except I was the kid pushing the button to start the ride and the possibility of flying off the track had never been higher. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
As we headed out of the garage & through pit lane, my instructor gave me the all clear. So I punched it. I was instantly thrown back into my seat while what sounded like a fighter jet's engine roared increasingly louder behind me. I was beginning to think that instead of me grabbing the car by the scruff of the neck it was the other way around. Into 4th gear, it was time to brake, downshift and enter turn 1. So far so good, I thought, but I was being a little too cautious. I made my way through the rest of the lap without incident and began looking forward to taking turn 1 a little harder next lap.
Rounding the final turn, I caught the apex and floored it. I was officially going fast. As I became more familiar with the car and the track I began chucking the car around a bit more and the power struggle between the bull and me was finally starting to become a lopsided affair in my favour. I could take a corner at speed, accelerate out of it, and it would hang on as if it wanted to be pushed even harder. So I pushed it harder. Still, it kept hanging on. It truly was like a rollercoaster on rails.
Here's the in-car video of my laps in the Lamborghini Gallardo:
With my lap times decreasing by about a second per lap, I was definitely getting comfortable and could have spent the entire day just trying to beat my own times. On my fastest lap (1:05.9) I averaged 60.09mph around the 11-turn, 1.1 mile track.
Make no mistake, this isn't a place for Sunday drivers. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to push your favourite exotic car to the limits, then you need to visit Exotics Racing.
For more information about Exotics Racing, visit ExoticsRacing.com
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Travis Snelling is the cofounder of TripAtlas.com and is based in Toronto, Canada. When not stuck in the office wearing shoes he's out on adventures with his camera looking for new drinks, dishes and experiences.
Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: photography, history, culture, cuisine, adventure