By George Christopher Thomas
Just a few miles from downtown Los Angeles is the Auto Speedway in Fontana. Besides hosting Indy Car and NASCAR events, every weekend Exotics Racing allows you to take top-of-the-line sports cars out on a real racetrack. You get to pick from a wide range of high-end exotic race cars and make all your motor sports dreams a reality. And after an instructional briefing and lesson from a professional race car driver, you are off to hit the track, and have the time of your life.
It is not every day that I get to drive a Ferrari around a racetrack with no speed limit, where they encourage you to floor it and go faster. I made sure to arrive at the Speedway early so I could soak in the atmosphere, and everywhere I looked were happy people laughing and enjoying themselves. It must have been the unparalleled opportunity to drive world class sports cars, take them out on the racetrack and see what kind of power they really had under their hood. This is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience motor sports fans dream of, and my group included people celebrating a special anniversary or birthday, and whose loved ones had given them a day at Exotics Racing as an unforgettable gift.
There were Porsches and Audis to choose from, Lamborghinis and Corvettes, but I went right for the most expensive and elite car on the menu, the Ferrari 458 Italia. The MSRP on this fine piece of machinery is $270,000, but that includes power windows and floor mats. It is almost the same as driving my wife’s Honda Civic, but the Ferrari is maybe could be a notch or two above the Civic when it comes to horsepower and handling.
After the briefing and before I got to take the car onto the track, the staff took me around the track in a Porsche for two “discovery laps.” Looking back, this was scarier that actually driving the Ferrari around the track myself. For the discovery laps, a professional driver explained the turns and the nuances of the track, and briefed me about when to brake and downshift, and when to go full throttle and floor it. This was very helpful, and essential for any novice such as myself, but also the only time I thought this whole experience might be a little extreme.
It was now time to hop into my chosen top-of-the-line Ferrari and take that baby out on the racetrack. There truly is a complex science to race car driving, and I can now more fully appreciate what an athletic event the professionals endure when competing in a NASCAR or Indy Car event. You can only go 5 miles per hour in the pit, but once you get onto the racetrack, the sky is the limit. Looking back at the video (which you get to take home after your visit), I discovered that I got the Ferrari up to 111 m.p.h. on the straightway, and it felt like we were flying. Taking turns at 40 and 50 m.p.h. is totally awesome, and getting to floor the Ferrari throughout the track is indescribably fun – something that should be experienced by all car-lovers at least once in their lives.
The first thing I noticed about the Ferrari was that I could feel everything with a heightened sense of awareness. Every turn was exhilarating, every straightway like magic, and the performance of the car was like nothing I had ever driven before. The closest I’ve been was once being allowed to drive the V-12 Jaguar my grandfather had. But as Gramps always said, you are only driving the Jag to the gas station or the mechanic, and that was certainly not the case with “my” Ferrari 458 Italia.
Still buzzing from my five laps around the track, I wanted to immediately drive all of the other cars in Exotic Racing’s fleet. I imagine each one has something great that the others don’t have, like more trunk room, or better speakers in the backseat. But the Ferrari is a special car, and a true joy to drive around the racetrack. I enjoyed every second of my experience with Exotics Racing, and highly recommend enjoying the fun yourself, or getting your loved one behind the wheel for a birthday present or graduation gift. The facility is very family friendly, and with plenty of seating and things to do and see for those not driving sports cars. They let you walk around the pit and take pictures with all of the exotic cars. Little Georgie (who came to watch) wanted a blue Ferrari with tan leather interior, but then again, who doesn’t? A great time was had by all, but especially the one being trained by race car drivers to maximize speed while flooring Ferraris in Fontana.
Exotics Racing offers its driving experience and racing school in Las Vegas as well as the Los Angeles area, and boasts the world’s largest fleet of exotic cars. If you want to drive a supercar on a racetrack and get the real full experience, find out how at www.exoticsracing.com.
Disclaimer: California News Press and its contributors may have received goods, services and/or other professional courtesies to facilitate this review. All opinions are those of the author.