Ride the rainbow of supercars
August 9, 2010
EAGLE COUNTY – My heart rate increased with the RPMs and my hands were visibly shaking.
It was Saturday, roughly 5 p.m., and I’d just set a new speed record for myself in a $304K Mr. Happy Face-yellow Bentley Continental Supersports. As the 621 horses beneath me screamed, pinning me to the molded seat, I suddenly understood how people become addicted to speed. The rush is like nothing I’ve felt before.
On Saturday, my younger brother, Ryan, and I participated in the World Class Driving event. For just less than $1,700, a mere mortal can drive a handful of the world’s most exotic cars, worth approximately $1.5 million: A Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, two Ferraris, an Audi R8 V10 and my personal favorite, the Bentley. The half-day experience started at The Charter in Beaver Creek.
As our group of a dozen people ate lunch, we listened to Didier Theys, a renowned Belgian race car driver who won the 24 Hours of Daytona twice, explain the rules. In a nutshell, they were: don’t drive too aggressively, be safe and speed at your own risk (“we don’t have the police on the payroll,” Didier joked). The “experience” is not a driving school, and they don’t promote aggressive driving.
“We encourage everyone to drive the cars like they own them, with finesse and common sense,” Theys said.
Standing at the front of a conference room, Theys mapped out the afternoon. Driving a Dodge Charger rental, he would lead the train o’ supercars up state Highway 131, north of Wolcott, while Bill Reiss, the logistics director, would bring up the rear. The five money cars sandwiched in between. The rules were simple: No passing each other; stay at least 200 yards behind the car in front of you; keep the traction control on and the radio off.
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We’d be gone approximately four hours and we’d stop every 30 minutes and switch drivers and cars. Each car had a radio so the instructors could communicate with each participant.
Ryan and I shared the experience, which meant he drove both fire-red Ferraris (an F430 coupe and a 599 GTB Fiorano) and the Lambo, while I drove the silver Audi and the Bentley.
First up was the Lambo. I’m here to tell you that if you drive a orange Lambo into the middle of Avon at 1 p.m. on a Saturday, people stop and stare. Drivers crane their necks and weave even more than usual in and out of the roundabout lanes.
We hopped on the interstate, and as I was sucked into my seat, I grabbed for the leather strap on the door and inadvertently shrieked. My brother glanced at me, grinning big.
“This is why they only get 8 miles to the gallon,” he said.
When I wasn’t riding shotgun with Ryan or taking my turn driving, I either rode with Theys in the pace car, or Reiss, in the back of the pack. This gave me a chance to quiz them incessantly. Theys discovered the route we used five years ago when he came to Colorado to ski with his family over Christmas at Steamboat Springs. He found himself in Wolcott at 6 p.m. just as it began to snow. That’s when he fell in love with the road’s twisty turns punctuated by long straight-aways.
I pointed at the black Valentine One radar detector attached to the inside of the windshield.
“Has that saved you a few times?” I asked him.
“Of course,” he said, smiling. “It’s like American Express – never leave home without it.”
We made it back to Beaver Creek without any flashing lights, not a scratch on any of the cars and big grins on each person’s face.
For more information on World Class Driving (the tour hits 45 different locations across the U.S., including Taos, N.M., on Aug. 14), visit http://www.worldclassdriving.com, or call 877-597-6403.