SEMA week in Las Vegas is a bucket list item for any gear head. The amount of automotive eye candy that descends on Sin City is something that must be seen to be believed. When SEMA is over, and all the show cars and booth babes have vanished (like the money that was in your bank account), the fun is not truly over. Exotics Racing is there to provide your speed fix year round.
Located outside Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Exotics Racing is an exotic rental company, who not only provides you with some of the fastest cars in the world, but a racetrack to try them out on. Add to that a driving instructor and you’ve got the perfect recipe for fun. The cars, which range from a bright green Porsche Cayman R to the new McLaren MP4-12C cover nearly all the exotic marques. The track is a purpose designed 1.8 mile, 7 turn course, which is meant to enjoy high powered, high dollar cars more than it is to challenge the driver. Its long main straight is capped by a banked right-hander, which allows you to really feel some speed in these exotics.
The ER experience begins with a light hearted safety briefing/driving lesson. The instructors are knowledgeable and experienced, but also patient. As a sometimes autocrosser with little track experience, I certainly challenged my instructor. The briefing was followed with two exploratory laps in one of the Porsche Cayenne GTS’s in the paddock. After a quick blast around the course, I met my instructor for my 6 laps.
After a few introductions, I was directed out to the paddock. Waiting under the tent was the silver with red interior Mercedes SLS AMGI that had my full attention and the car I really wanted to drive. The classic Gullwing doors were wide open, begging me to jump in. Once inside, I got an introduction to the controls, closed the door and it was time to go.
The SLS was extremely fun, even for a relative noob like me. My instructor coached me to go faster, urging me to get on the throttle sooner and minimize my braking in the faster areas, to really extract what I could from the car. My Gullwing saw 5th gear at least twice in my stint, which was a sign that I was making some pretty good speed. The biggest drawback to exotics racing has to be the other traffic. As you’d expect with an event where the general public is on track, there were varying degrees of skill out there. Other drivers were sometimes much faster and sometimes much slower. My nemesis was a Ferrari F430 which I followed for at least two laps before getting the point by. Thankfully my instructor gave me an extra lap for my troubles.
As I got more comfortable with the car, I began to really like my choice. The SLS was certainly not the fastest car there, but for sheer enjoyment I have a hard time believing it isn’t near the top of the list. The rear end of my AMG was more than happy to step out slightly on corner exit and I only felt under-steer once in my session. The shifts were exactly what you’d want in a super GT car and the throttle response was absolutely breath taking. Then there was the sound. The silver Merc is a very quiet car inside, at least until you mash that loud pedal. Once the throttle pedal is fully depressed that wonderful 563hp 6.2L V8 lets out a roar that has to be heard to be appreciated.
All too quickly, my time in the SLS was over. We pulled back into the hot pits and I bid the car and my instructor farewell. The staff welcomed me to stick around and check out the other cars, including watching the Corvette Z06 drift demo make repeated sideways laps around the track. The drifting Vette screeched its way past Ferraris, Lamborghini Gallardos, a Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the SLS, all driven by ER customers like me. The passenger seat of the Corvette was available for ride alongs, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to take advantage of that. Next time for sure…and maybe a next time with Greg Tracy, now that would be fun!
Exotics Racing gave me the experience of a lifetime. For the price of one night at the tables on the strip, you can have the same experience. Be careful though, you may not look at your personal car the same afterwards. If you care to take it up a notch, as we left we found the Dream Racing, another experience to racing exotics. Except this time you get behind the wheel of a full race prepped Ferrari F430. Along with the classroom experience you also get simulation time, then time on the track! We got a few minutes to check out what the school had to offer here are a few teaser shots until we go behind the wheel in the future!
Article/ Driving Experience: Brian George of NorthCourseMotoring
Photos: Eric Gearhart
Exotics Driving Experience: http://www.exoticsracing.com/
Dream Racing: http://www.dreamracing.com/
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