Day three at Nola Motorsports Park is my final day down in New Orleans.
Lets rewind a little bit.
A few months prior to coming down to Nola, Kevin Waterman had advised me that it looked like Xtreme Xperience was going to be down at Nola the same weekend that I was planning this trip. I contacted the good people at Xtreme Xperience and they were more than accommodating on showing us here at My Life at SPEED the ropes. All of the staff was very good at communication, making sure all of my questions were answered and reservations confirmed. At this point, I was also prompted to decide which car I wanted to drive.
I was like a child who had been given the keys to his father’s coveted classic car that hides underneath the dust cover in the garage. A day you never thought would happen, but had day dreamed about endlessly as long as you can remember.
So here was my plight. Which supercar did I want to drive? Kevin had recommended the Ferrari 458 Italia. Not a bad choice. He had also said how much he enjoyed the new Lamborghini Huracan. But now the new Porsche GT3 was available too. Which had been praised as one of the best driving machines in quite some time from Porsche. I had always enjoyed my time behind the wheel in a Porsche, so I made my decision on the GT3.
I told Andie at Xtreme Xperience what car and time I wanted and she made the reservation. Shortly there after, I received an email confirmation.
Now, that nagging feeling you get in the back of your head was plaguing me.
Did I make the right decision? Should I have gone with another car? Did I just go with the Porsche because it was familiar?
I know, first world problems, right?
Anyway, I thought to myself go big or go home. So I called Andie back and asked if I could change my reservation to the Lamborghini Huracan. She obliged and I felt better. I mean, there’s a good chance I would be able to drive the new GT3 at some point in the future, but a Lamborghini? Very unlikely, let alone the new Huracan. And after all, that’s what the Xtreme Xperience is all about. Driving real super cars on real race tracks. Cars that otherwise might be unobtainable to the average Joe.
Ok, fast forward to Nola. It’s time for some seat time in a new supercar. Xtreme Xperience had arrived the same day that I was doing the Mustang Experience. During that time, they were unloading the cars and getting them prepped for the following days. After they were washed, fueled, and checked over for any safety concerns, they were lined up underneath the awning in pit lane. At this point, I was able to look them all over in person. Seeing the Huracan in the flesh, I felt I had made the right choice. 600+hp, AWD, and a weapon on the track. Needless to say I was looking forward to tomorrow.
As the day was winding down, there was talk among the crew at Xtreme Xperience about the new Corvette Z06 they had just purchased. It was getting wrapped (vinyl wrapped) right now and it should be finished just in time for it’s first day out. My ears perked up at this. Another car that had my interest, but wasn’t an option when I originally made my reservation.
No matter, I was driving a freaking Lambo. Not exactly a compromise.
Tomorrow had arrived and now it was time to drive! We arrived early, as Kevin was to be one of the driving instructors for the day. Xtreme Xperience has a good system in place. As they travel to racetracks all over the country, they have a core crew that travels along, as well as six core driving instructors. For each track, they bring in an equal amount of local driving instructors that know the course. This blends together a good mix of local knowledge and uniformity for Xtreme Xperiernce’s driving experience across the country.
Kevin and I separated as he had his own instructors’ meeting to attend. Suddenly, the familiar rumble of a V8 reverberated across the parking area as the freshly wrapped Z06 came strolling in. The car was originally white, which they then had wrapped in the signature yellow of the C7.R Corvettes. Why they did this is beyond me. Maybe they couldn’t find a yellow one to purchase at the time they needed it. Not really important. Needless to say, the car did turn heads.
People started to arrive in droves. After the first few classes went through orientation, it was my turn. The orientation was well thought out and considering this is designed for anyone to drive a supercar, from a teenager to the seasoned driver, they left nothing to chance. Again, answering all questions and explaining the process so nothing was left to assumptions or guess work.
After that, I received my helmet and got in line to drive the car I had signed up for. The Lamborghini Huracan. Shortly there after, the Huracan pulled back into pit lane and it was now my turn to get in behind the wheel.
As I’m approaching the car, I notice my instructor is Kevin. I can tell by his helmet. Complete happenstance, but a happy coincidence. I get in, shake his hand and he hooks up my intercom. He introduces himself. I jokingly introduce myself as Calvin Shuhymer.
“Nice to meet you Calvin!” Kevin said
“Is he bullshitting me or does he not know it’s me?” I think to myself
He starts into his speil and I start giving him a ration of crap. Acting like the occasional and often dreaded know-it-all green horn. He pauses for a second, then I reveal my true self.
He sighs and we both start to laugh. Maybe it was the sunglasses. I figured the beard would of given me away. After all, not too many people are rocking full facial flora in a climate where the heat index is well above 110 degrees more often than not.
Sorry, I digress.
The structure is lead-follow behind a pace car. Usually about 4-6 cars at a time. The more experienced drivers can ask to go to the front of the line behind the pace car. The instructors who are giving ride alongs can also come to the front of the line. This was the case for me. The pace car lead the pack, followed by the Ferrari 458 Italia, then us in the Lamborghini Huracan. I honestly don’t remember what other cars there were behind us. But normally if you do get stuck behind a slower car, you are allowed to pass with the blessing of the instructor.
The time on track totals three laps. We take off behind the pace car and Ferrari. Immediately upon exiting the pit lane, I get to utilize all 600+ hp of the Huracan. The throttle response is snappy and full of zest. Immediately, I get a grin on my face. There’s a certain familiarity about the car’s dynamics. I can definitely feel some of the underpinnings of Audi in the driving feel, but with Lamborghini’s own twist on things. Think of it as the Italian styling and power figures, but with access to Audi’s deep pockets and parts bins to choose from.
Anyway, the car feels great! Turn in is predictable and precise. The all wheel drive makes it just stick. No push, no oversteer. It just follows through very naturally. The brakes, as expected, are really, really good. The transmission, surprisingly, is not what I expected. But in a good way. It had the seven speed DSG and there was virtually no lag when pulling back on the downshift paddle upon braking before the next turn.
Through the esses, the car is sublime. It just carries so much speed. The front straight though… can I just say this car is FAST!! We hit over 150+ mph encroaching upon 160 mph. I feel we could of easily reached that given a little more seat time. Kevin had crested 160 mph in a Huracan before on this track’s front straight, so it has the ability.
And just like that, the third lap is done and you are pulling into pit lane. Your endorphins pumping, leaving you in a euphoric state, blessed by the Speed Gods.
I’m itching for my next fix. I zone in on the Z06. It sounds so vicious on track. Nothing else like it here. I make my decision and sign up to drive it.
Fast forward a little bit and I’m now in the driver’s seat of the Zo6. My first impression is how nice the interior is. Im not used to that in a Corvette. The color option isn’t my first choice but the materials they use are top notch, the ergonomics and layout of the controls are really well thought out. The seats are comfortable. Not a bad place to be at all.
We take off down pit lane. On exiting to the front straight, I lay into the the throttle to get a feel for the car. Now, I had originally thought the Huracan throttle response was snappy. Nope. Not compared to this. The Z06 has gobs of torque. Between the big V8 and the supercharger, you have to choose your power delivery with care. There was a point on track when exiting a hairpin, had the nannies (traction control) not been on, the ass end would have swung out nicely.
The torque is intoxicating. It has the feeling of someone dropping a bag of bricks on your chest. It’s just there in all gears and all speeds. Then the horsepower just pulls hard, all the way to redline. The other huge asset of the Z06 are the brakes. I can brake later, harder, and they just bite deep, with no fade. The best brakes I have ever felt. This car is better than any other car I have driven, in every way possible. The only advantage the Huracan had is on the front straight; it’s wickedly fast. It might have been heat soak in the Zo6’s supercharger. It would make sense as by noon, it was 108 degrees on track.
Another thing that really impressed me though, with all the cars, was the fact that they were running for nearly 10 hours straight and not one of them had any major malfunctions or breakdown in that heat. A true testament to the engineering that goes into all of these cars.
Some time had passed and I had replenished some lost fluids, as well as taken a bunch of photos in that heat. So, to treat myself, I paid for another round in the Z06. Yes. It’s so good that I paid to drive it… twice.
This time, surprisingly, it felt even more planted and the horsepower was definitely there. I’m assuming the tires were more warmed up at this point because it handled like it was on rails. And the power. Oh, the full brunt of the 650 HP was used. To the point where I was having to let off the throttle so as not to pass the pace car. Given the choice, I never thought I would be saying this, but the Z06 was hands down my favorite car to drive. GM did an excellent job. The only regret I have is not being able to drive the new Porsche GT3. Oh well, maybe another time.
Xtreme Xperience offers a truly one-of-a-kind chance to drive the car of your dreams. To make something that would otherwise be unobtainable to most people, and make it accessible for the masses. On some of America’s most famous road courses no less. The fact that their inventory of cars seems to be ever changing to the latest and greatest, means there will always be something to keep you coming back.
So what would your weapon of choice be? Are you predisposed to v8’s, v10’s, naturally aspirated, forced induction? RWD, AWD, Mid engine, front engine, rear engine? Sound off in the comments below.
More photos can be found below.