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ThatsRacin.com


Take a $295,000 car for a spin at the speedway

- tjanes@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Mar. 15, 2013

I drove a $243,000 Lamborghini on Friday – for about six minutes, maybe a little longer. You can do the same, if you’re willing to spend almost $500 for the privilege.

If so, then you’re the target audience for the Exotic Driving Experience. It comes from the makers of the Richard Petty Driving Experience and operates year-round at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, but it also brings its fleet of supercars to 10 other speedways, including Atlanta, Daytona, and Charlotte. This weekend marks the first of four times it will set up shop in Concord in 2013.

Cars offered at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Saturday and Sunday include a Ferrari 458 Italia, a Ferrari F430, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, an Audi R8, an Aston Martin Virage, a Porsche 997 S, and a Nissan GT-R.

Prices start at $169 to take the $90,000 Nissan for a spin and run up to $419 to flex the muscles of the $295,000 458 Italia. (A $35 “driver release fee” also will be tacked onto the bill.)

EDE had about 25 paying customers on Friday, and already had roughly 110 commitments for the weekend as of Friday morning. (A total of about 100 slots per day are available.)

At my 10 a.m. session, I counted eight clients, some of whom had brought spectators. One guy had come up from Georgia to participate; another was given time in three – three! – different cars by his wife, as a gift.

It’s important to note that you drive on an asphalt “road course” that’s part of the infield at the speedway, and not on the actual oval itself.

The ride is much more about agility than pure speed. Much of the course is made up of several sharp left- and right-hand turns. The longest straightaway is less than a quarter-mile, so my top speed was 69 mph. Still, unless you’re a former illegal street racer or have experience driving high-performance cars on short tracks with lots of turns, you will sense plenty of speed.

Total drive time is about 5 minutes for six laps, and unfortunately, it takes about that long to start feeling comfortable with the handling and the power under the hood.

Of course, $419 is a lot of money to pay for five minutes in a Ferrari, and after having been a part of this, I feel like 10 minutes would be more fair for that kind of dough. Then again, I’m not a super-fanatical supercar enthusiast, and I also am not the one who has to pay to maintain and service cars that probably cost a fortune to maintain and service.

But it’s an undeniable rush to be in control of something that can go from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. The responsiveness of the steering, braking and acceleration is jaw-dropping. Only a tiny fraction of people on the planet will ever get to drive these cars, and most of them have Swiss bank accounts. Even if you’ve got the financial credentials to test-drive one at a dealership, no salesman who wants to keep his or her job will let you operate the automobile the way these folks will.

For reservations or more information about dates and times, call 855-822-0149 or visit www.ExoticDriving.com. All cars may not be available on all dates.