Pedal to the Metal
Austin's luxury driving experience puts racing fans behind the wheel
Christian Fittipaldi, champion race car driver and co-owner of Fittipaldi Exotic Driving, knows only one speed: fast. So if you find yourself sitting next to him and going over 100 miles per hour, it's best to hold on for dear life.
That's what I found out the hard — and best — way during the media preview of the new luxury driving experience, which launched in Fort Worth on January 15. Fittipaldi and co-owner/CEO Bill Scott started the hands-on business as a way to make cars normally only attainable by the 1 percent available to the rest of the world.
One weekend a month, they'll bring the cars of your dreams to Texas Motor Speedway, Driveway Austin, and MSR Houston and offer those willing to pay the relatively affordable price a chance to take six laps around the infield track. For $269 to $419, depending on the car, you can get behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia, Lamborghini Superleggera LP570-4, Lamborghini Balboni Edition LP550-2, Nissan GT-R, or Porsche 911 Carrera S 991.
Drivers 18 and older are paired with an in-car driving instructor who's there to show you the ins and outs of paddle shifting, where to accelerate, where to brake, and how to get the most out of your experience. You also get an on-track video as part of the package to show off just how fast you can go.
I chose to drive the Lamborghini Superleggera, a V-10 monster that can go from 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds. If you ever get the chance to try out the experience, don't be like me. Trust your instincts and put the pedal to the metal.
These cars are designed to hug the road, meaning that any halfway competent driver should have no trouble controlling them. And with the instructor there to guide you every step of the way, it's next to impossible to forget where to brake and where to accelerate.
If you still think doing the driving is not for you, or if you're not actually old enough to drive, you can also choose to get a "race ride" in an actual Porsche race car for $99. Staff drivers — or, if you're really lucky, Fittipaldi himself — will give you the ride of your life.
Fittipaldi drove a few media members, myself included, at the preview, and to say it was an insane experience is putting it mildly. It wasn't so much the straightaways, in which he topped 110 miles per hour, as some of the curves where he truly showed off his skills. Barreling through curves at close to 90 miles per hour, he gleefully bounced my carefully protected head around.
The full schedule for Fittipaldi Exotic Driving at Driveway Austin can be found on its website; they're scheduled every month through 2016. If you choose to participate, don't be timid: You'll likely never have an opportunity like this again.