If just saying Ferrari makes your heart race, imagine what it’s like to drive a F430 GT race car strapped in for five laps on the road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Each step of the experience brings you one step closer to vrooming around the course just like a race car driver with luxurious touches at each turn.
Dream Racing just launched out at the speedway, with 320ish days of racing in one of the 12 red rides awaiting. Former race car drivers Enrico Bertaggia and Adriano De Micheli put their motor sports experience together to create this dreamlike experience that puts you behind the wheel of a Ferrari that would never be allowed on the streets.
It starts with a ride to the racetrack from Crystals at CityCenter where the experience escorts future drivers to the speedway. After you sign your life away, a 15-minute film teaches you pointers on just how to manipulate the 2,700-pound car through the tricky turns. Already your heart is pounding faster as you realize that in a matter of minutes, you’ll be behind the wheel.
Then you get some practice at putting your new knowledge to work. Instructor Matt Buckroff strapped me in a 3-D simulator to see if I had the skills to drive the real thing. My heart raced as I took shortcuts across the curves and I wondered if I could drive the real deal without owing Dream Racing a new Ferrari. These race cars motor, going from 0 to 60 mph in 1.8 seconds. I knew on a race course I would never get going that fast, but learning to brake, coast and accelerate properly is completely different then the moves I normally make in my car.
I was in good hands though. Buckroff would be joining me shotgun in the car, feeding me instructions as I drove the real course. But first I needed to suit up, changing into a race suit and helmet. Note: Don’t wear high heels to drive these cars.
The Dream Racing team walked me out to my Ferrari for five minutes and strapped me in with Buckroff by my side. Then it was off to the races, so to speak. The 1.1-mile track awaited with its variety of corners and straightaways.
Thrilling. Buckroff encourages me to punch it into fifth gear along the straightaway and then downshift the paddles to third to hit the first corner. He encouraged me to speed up to hug the corners and punch to gas about halfway through to zip onto the racing line. Brake, coast, gas. Brake, coast, gas. I mastered the corners. I made it through the course with nary a scratch and without missing a single turn.
The true thrill came afterward when stunt driver John Caps buckled me in the passenger seat for hot laps where he showed me how to really drive the car. “I guess I didn’t trust the car as much as you do,” I said to him as he white knuckled the corners. I’m pretty sure he got up to 155 mph on the straightaway and hit the brakes to 55 mph in 2.2 seconds as we slid into the corner.
This was the ride of a lifetime. For $499, you land the entire experience. If you want to add laps, which you might because you finally get the hang of the track and the racing lines in five laps, it’s an additional $399 for five laps. Or just ride along with a pro dfor two hot laps for $179. Afterward, I hung out in the luxe lounge while I let my heart stop pounding. In the summer, a large-screen TV lets observers watch the action while in air conditioning, or they can climb atop the Neon Garage, where Dream Racing lives during non-racing times, to get an overhead view of the track.
For more information, visit www.dreamracing.com or call 702-599-5199. Vroom, vroom, indeed.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.