Driving beyond their means in Cordillera | VailDaily.com

Driving beyond their means in Cordillera

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Fancy Cars2 PU 8-2-08

CORDILLERA, Colorado ” Tish Gance loves Ferraris so much she spent her vacation money on taking one for a spin.

The Lakewood resident and self-proclaimed “car chick” spent the past Saturday driving a bright red Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano ” a car worth $410,000 ” through the winding roads of Wolcott and Yampa, testing the suspension on tight corners and opening up the engine as fast as she could on the straight-aways. And she was no slouch ” in fact, you’d never know it was a girl driving as she vanished in the distance leaving other cars behind to breathe her exhaust.

“I have been a Ferrari nut from the time I could walk,” Gance said.

But before the day is over she will have driven over a million and a half dollars worth of cars.

Gance was one of a dozen people in Cordillera on Saturday who handed over $1,500 to World Class Driving to take the wheel of some really, really fast luxury sports cars like the Lamborghini Superleggera (0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds), Callaway C16 (0 to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds) and Maserati Gran Turismo (0 to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds).

Automobile adventures

Jean Paul Libert started World Class Driving in 2006. His mission was to give customers the chance to drive an array of expensive, luxury sports cars so they can make up their mind about all the different experiences and factors that “Consumer Reports” can’t bring to them. It’s a lot cheaper to spend the money for his program than to write a check for the full amount of a car that may just end up sitting in the driveway, Libert said.

“Our proposition is to make sure we can give a chance to people to experience the best automobile adventure,” Libert said.

To him that means giving his customers the chance to drive on the most scenic and challenging roads in the most high-performance cars available on the market today. Libert and the World Class Driving team bring the experience to the customer by traveling to different states with the cars and finding the best terrain to show off the various features of each car ” those pros and cons that can only be discovered by driving them.

Boulder-resident Matt Shmitz appreciated this part of the experience.

“The surprise was the Callaway actually,” Schmitz said. “You think of American technology a little bit behind the Europeans or the Japanese and you got in that thing and it was amazing, fast, subtle.”

Not exactly what the Porsche owner expected before he started whipping it around on the road. His good friend Trevor Pettennude also liked the amount of experience and knowledge he walked away with after just five hours in the different cars.

“It’s a whole experience of driving one great car then driving another one and saying ‘Wow, this is why I like this one better than the first one,” Pettennude said.

World Class Driving is not a racing program, but you’d hardly notice by some of the speeds the drivers would achieve once let out of their cages. Libert’s number one priority is the safety of his customers, so before he lets them take off, he gives a brief seminar on the dos and don’ts of his program.

“Don’t be impatient. We don’t want to show in any way that we are promoting aggressive driving,” Libert said to the class.

Instead he teaches the drivers to handle each car with respect, as if it was theirs, and to not make hasty or rash decisions on the road that could put them or others in danger.

To make sure that drivers don’t go all Mad Max once behind the wheel a pace car is set at the front of the pack and nobody is allowed to pass it. That car is driven by professional racer and World Class Driving instructor Didier Theys.

“This program I really enjoy because you meet people who love cars, who love racing, and it’s a pleasure to do it,” Theys said.

So now that Gance got her time in the Ferrari, is she regretting spending all that money on a scenic drive through Colorado? Absolutely not. And although she knows it’s something she won’t be able to afford all the time, she said this won’t be her last time with World Class Driving.

“From an experience standpoint, this is something that I would definitely do again in five years,” Gance said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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