Dream Racing is a company that offers enthusiasts a chance to drive a Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini racing car around the road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dream Racing offers a number of different packages at different price. You can check out all the offerings at www.dreamracing.com.
For me, the opportunity to do five laps around the LVMS was special, since my friend Richie Clyne built the track (although he no longer owns it today.) I got glimpses of the construction every time I went to Vegas between 1990-1997. I saw how they built it and how it changed over the years.
The idea of driving a Ferrari F430 GT around the course was very exciting, at least until the Dream Racing team began collecting the papers I’d signed saying that I was assuming all risks involved in racing around the track and that I would be responsible for the car, too. I could just see myself trying to wash enough dishes at night to pay for a crumpled Ferrari racing car. Yikes!
The Turtle Wax reps hosting this experience assured me that they had done this before and that I had nothing to worry about. But most of them were in their 20s, 30s or 40s at most. I was turning 69 in two weeks! That spoke volumes about my vision, my reflexes and my hearing, all of which are pretty important things when you’re piloting a 650-hp Ferrari at over 100 mph.
Dream Racing showed us a film about the Ferrari and said it was the ultimate racing car for this kind of thing. All I could think of is that probably meant it was an even more expensive car than I thought. Yikes again!
When we were directed to a room full of driving gear and helmets it began to sink in that this really wasn’t going to be a Dodge-‘em car ride at the boardwalk. It was the real thing and I seriously had thoughts of “chickening out.” It didn’t help that the first car I squeezed myself into like a sardine had the seat set too high. I had to squeeze out of that Ferrari and into another one.
The instructor riding shotgun in the second car had a heavy European accent, which fit the racing atmosphere wonderfully. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest accent for a novice driver to decipher in milliseconds on the track. What I also didn’t know at the time was that the intercom wasn’t working properly. It wasn’t his accent I was missing, it was most of his voice. Technology does not always work properly.
I was instructed to get out of that Ferrari and into a third one. “Howdy, partner!” boomed the voice of the instructor over a fully-functioning intercom. I’m sure a smile crossed my face just about then. I told “Cowboy” about my excitement about driving the track because my buddy had built it. “You must know Chris Clyne then,” he responded, Chris being Richie Clyne’s son. “He’s a good friend of mine and you and I are going to have a heck of a good ride.”
Now, I’m not going to fool you and say I turned out to be a great driver. I did all sorts of things wrong, like take the wrong lane and brake in the corner, but I managed to keep the Ferrari on the track. There were a couple of times that Cowboy had to reach over and steer me to the left so faster cars could pass. But somehow I kept the car on the track and as a video recording shows, I actually got it up to speeds as high as 107 mph and 111 mph on the straightaway (I won’t brag about the 39 mph cornering, though).
After five laps, Cowboy asked if I wanted to do a sixth. I told him that was OK, because I was happy just to be alive after five laps. When I got out of the car I was sweating and shaking. It was a truly awesome experience and I would love to take a half-day or full-day course where you could really get comfortable with the experience and start to learn about the car and the track.
Back in the Dream Racing facility I peeled off the tight-fitting driver suit and picked up a photo that someone had snapped of me with the Ferrari. I was asked if I wanted to buy the video on a camera card, which would have cost around $79. I declined, but then I went back to purchase it. Once-in-a-lifetime-experience and all that. Surprise, surprise, my video wasn’t perfect. They couldn’t sell it to me, but they gave me what was there. And there was enough on it to prove the 111 mph, which is good, because “How fast did you go?” is the big question.
By the way, there was one other man in our group around my age. After the racing, he gave a demo on some of the great new Turtle Wax products. It turned out he was also a Pontiac guy and owned a GTO. While we talked, he told me that he had lost control of his Ferrari and spun out. I’m not going to say that made me feel good, but it sure didn’t make me feel bad about my own driving.