“We don’t have the police on the payroll!” exclaimed Didier Theys, a two-time winner of the renowned Daytona 24 hour endurance race and the lead instructor for World Class Driving. This bit of advice was given to an anxious group of car enthusiasts waiting to get behind the wheel of $1.5 million dollars worth of some of the fastest and most exclusive supercars in the world. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon in my hometown of Vail, Colorado and my brave sister and I were set to drive a lineup that included: a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Ferrari F430, Bentley Continental Supersports and an Audi R8 V10.[
The event, part of the 2010 World Class Driving U.S. Tour, started off with a short presentation that touched on everything from the route we would take (Highway 131 North to Steamboat) to event rules – stay 200 yards behind the car in front of you, no stereos or cell phones, follow the lead car, traction control on and no aggressive maneuvers. My favorite rule was the no stereo. Who needs music when you can listen to all 611 HP of a hand built Ferrari V12?
They also briefed the group on how to shift each cars paddle-shift transmissions. That’s right; every car came equipped with each car company’s latest and greatest paddle-shifting technology. Left click to request a downshift, right click to up-shift. I giggled all afternoon as I downshifted and anxiously awaited hearing the computer induced blip of the throttle before selecting a lower gear. Oh yeah, one more thing, don’t ever lift your foot off the throttle to upshift. Why didn’t I get more instructions like this growing up?
After the brief intro we all funneled outside to get our first glimpse of the rainbow colored array of supercars that awaited us. One by one everyone in the group took turns posing for pictures and gasping after seeing each car up close and personal. I could hear random “oohhs & ahhs” as we anxiously circled the parking lot waiting for our chance to sample a taste of engineering excellence.
My sister and I quickly determined who was driving what and I ended up with the Lambo and two Ferraris, while she got the R8 and the Bentley. I jumped in the bright orange Lamborghini and found myself surrounded by a jaw dropping mix of suede-like alcantera everything, carbon fiber buckets that hug you back and shiny aluminum materials throughout the cockpit. Two words – sensory overload. Suddenly, I found myself having trouble with executing a normal thought process. All I could think about was how fast I could go with this supercar and how far I could push the limits of adhesion.
We set off in parade like fashion and I had the honor of leading the pack out of the parking lot driving the Gallardo. Heads turned, people pointed, and I had a huge grin on my face. I turned left onto the Avon on-ramp to merge onto I-70 westbound and put my right foot to the floor. Glorious sounds erupted from behind my head as the V-10 screamed its way to red-line through all six gears. I quickly glanced over at my sister as she held on and said “Should have grabbed my Valentine 1!”
As we came to the first pullout to swap cars I said my good-byes to the Lambo and welcomed my first of two Ferraris for the day – a bright red Ferrari F430 Coupe. I know, tough swap. The F430 was the athlete of the bunch. It was the lightest car and had the least amount of horsepower – 503, but it made all that up and more in delivering a fantastic driving experience. Shift after shift the sound of the Italian V8 behind my ears gave me goosebumps. I have a new admiration of the passion behind these masterpieces from Maranello.
My grin continued as I took over driving duties behind the wheel of the 599 GTB Fiorano. What’s with the name you say? 599 stands for total engine displacement (5999 cc) and GTB – Gran Turismo Berlinetta. Fiorano is the famed marquee’s test track in Maranello, Italy. Due to the current market value of a 599, a representative from World Class Driving sat in for the ride and kindly videotaped the drive from two camera angles. One camera looked back at the driver from the A-pillar and one was center mounted between the seats. A highlight of driving the 599 was watching the shift indicator lights rapidly climb from left to right as I clicked off up-shifts with ease. I have always wondered what it would be like to be Michael Schumacher for a day, and now I have a pretty good idea of how cool his day job is. It’s hard to pick words to describe the experience, but it felt like I was in an F1 simulator on a twisty mountain road. Simply amazing.
The World Class Driving supercar tour stops at 50 cities across the US. The staff is top notch in every way and they are great at making you feel comfortable as you drive your dream cars. It’s one unbelievable day that leaves you with a permanent grin on your face and I left wondering if another automotive experience could ever top it. My bucket list just got a little bit shorter.
Article originally appeared on www.EuroBerge.com.