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Unread 02-17-2010, 10:35 PM   #5
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Ok, part II:

There were lots of girls there -- all wives and girlfriends of the participants -- but very few female participants. Of the 12 to 15 people in my "class", my wife was only 1 of 2 females. (I say "class" in quotes because that's what they call it, but like I said, they're not really a racing school.) The class was an interesting mix of people. There was a group of 3 young guys from China, 2 guys from Africa, 2 or 3 European-male-model wannabe types, and the rest, just regular American folks, ages ranging from their 20s to their 60s.

My wife thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I would recommend all the wives and girlfriends out there to try it out too. It's not a competition; there's no pressure. You can drive the car in full-auto mode if you like, so it's very easy to drive. There's lots of run-off space, so even if you lose control, you won't hit anything. Everyone is busy driving their own car, so nobody will notice if you're driving a lot slower than everyone else. The guy sitting in the passenger seat is very helpful, too. At the very least, do 5 laps in the Porsche (the cheapest car). It's probably more fun than you thought.

Anyway, after the class, they split us up into groups of 4. They take each group out on the track in a Hummer H2 driven by the guy who "taught" the racing part of the "class". He does 2 laps, going over the braking, turn-in, apex and exit points. The first lap is moderate, but he steps it up the 2nd lap, with the Hummer's tires howling like wolves at the full moon. If you sit in the middle in the back, make sure you like the 2 people you're sitting between, because you're going to be smashed up against them a lot.

After you get out of the Hummer, you report to a girl who will give you a goofy-looking fabric shower cap thing to wear under the helmet which she'll also give you. It's a black open face helmet, and they have assorted sizes. Then you just wait around until your car is ready.

My Ferrari happened to be sitting there already, so I didn't have to wait. They had 2 red F430s there, an orange and a neon green Gallardo, a white Porsche 911 and a dark grey Aston Martin V8 Vantage. They also had a red Z06 and the black Hummer. Any number of those cars could be on the track with you.

Before I get into my F430, my wife takes a picture of me standing next to it wearing my goofy helmet. Getting into the Ferrari with the helmet on is kinda tricky, but I made it in. There's not a lot of headroom in the F430, and it's even worse if you're wearing a helmet. I think tall people might be uncomfortable.

I shake hands with my codriver, and we have a little conversation. He wants to know how much driving experience I've had, etc. I told him I've done maybe 20 or 30 laps on a road course about 8 years ago. He repeats some of the stuff we covered in the class. He asked me if I'd ever driven a paddle-shifter gearbox before, and I tell him my GT-R has one.

The engine is still running from the last guy, so I pull the left paddle to engage 1st and head off. We cruise along in the pit area, and I upshift into a leisurely 3rd on the way to about 30mph. I'm getting excited as I see us nearing the 90° right-hand turn to enter the track.

Here's a map of the track. The pit lane is in blue.


Last edited by zff; 02-19-2010 at 08:18 AM.
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