By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
LOS ANGELES AREA, CA – 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. When it comes to high end exotic racecars, they give you the pick of the litter so to speak. And after an instructional briefing and lesson from a professional racecar 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. So I wanted to get there early and soak it all in, and everywhere I looked were happy people laughing and enjoying themselves. It must have been the world class sports cars, and the fact that you could take them out on the racetrack and see what kind of power they really had under their hood.
There were Porsches and Audis to choose from, Lamborghinis and Corvettes, but I went right for the most expensive and best car on the menu, the Ferrari 458 Italia. The Managers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on this fine piece of machinery is $300,000, but that includes power windows and floor mats. It is almost the same as driving my wife’s Honda Civic, but the Ferrari maybe could be a notch or two above the civic when it comes to horsepower and handling.
After the briefing and before you get to take the car onto the track, the staff take you around in a Porsche for two discovery laps. Looking back, this was scarier that actually driving the Ferrari around the track. For the discovery laps, a professional driver explains the turns and the track, and briefs you when to brake and downshift, and when to go full throttle and floor it. This was very helpful and beneficial, but also the only time I thought this whole experience might be a little extreme.
Well, the briefing and discovery laps were over, and it was now time to hop into a top of the line Ferrari and take that baby out on a racetrack with no speed limits. There truly is a science to racecar driving, and I can now fully appreciate what an athletic event these professionals endure when in a NASCAR or Indy Car event.
You can only go 5 miles per hour (MPH) in the pit, but once you get onto the racetrack, the sky is the limit. Looking back at the video, I got the Ferrari up to 111 MPH on the straightway, and it felt like we were flying. Taking turns at 40 and 50 MPH is totally awesome, and getting to floor the Ferrari throughout the track is fun that should be experienced by everyone in the world at least once or twice in their lives.
The first thing I noticed about the Ferrari is you could feel everything with a heightened sense of awareness. Every turn felt special, every straightway was magical and awesome, and the performance of the car was like nothing I had ever driven before, minus 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 is not the case with a Ferrari 458 Italia.
As a sports car connoisseur, I wanted to drive all of the cars they had in their 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 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 around the racetrack. They let you walk around the pit, and take pictures with all of the exotic cars. Little Georgie wanted a blue Ferrari with tan leather interior, but then again, who doesn’t? A great time had by all, but especially the one being trained by racecar drivers to maximize their speed while flooring Ferraris in Fontana.