Thursday, March 14, 2019

Driving Speed Vegas in a Ferrari 488

Speed Vegas

We visit Las Vegas about once a year or so.  I don't gamble and I am not much into the night life either but Vegas has many more things to do than that.  One great example is Speed Vegas. I found this a few years ago and it has been on my list to try for a while.  I finally did it.  I would recommend it to others.  They have a nice selection of cars and you get to take them on a track at speed, where these sports cars belong.  While you can rent cars like these and drive them around on the street, that is actually more money and you will never (legally anyway) feel what they can really do.  At Speed Vegas though you do get to feel the car at speed on a track.  They have great instructors and the process is simple.  If you have never been on track at speed, this is a great way to get introduced to it.  If you have done track days, this is a great way to see what those cars you have been pining away for are really like without having to buy one. While the cost is about the same as entry to a track weekend, this is a different thing being able to drive their cars.

Looking at the selection of cars the two I wanted to drive most were the Ferrari (458 or 488) and the Porsche GT3 RS.  Since I had never even driven a Ferrari, I chose the 488 with their 5 lap package.

They start with a drivers meeting like any other track event.  There they explain the track layout, basic cornering and braking, explain the cones, passing, etc. They fit you with a helmet, pair you with an instructor and out you go to the car. Heading out to the track you test the brakes, wait for clearance, and enter the track.  The instructor talks very quickly showing you the line, braking and turning points, shift points, etc.  For the next 5 laps you just keep correcting mistakes and improving.  At the end you get a photo of you with the car you drove.

The track is a collection of small corners along the back and a decent mostly straight on the front.
Its not my favorite track but it does the job well to let you feel the cars. The first time to drive a track it is clumsy.  It takes a while to learn the track and get good at it.

If you have never done track days before, I would recommend starting Speed Vegas with the Cayman.  It is less money and it would be a blast at this track.  When I was there they had a Cayman GTS and 5 laps in it was under $200.  I would think this would be the best bang for the buck your first time here.  Then once you are familiar with the track in the Cayman, try one of the more exotic cars next time, or add another car right after (which has a discount).  For me I plan to try the GT3 RS next time, presuming they still have it then.


If you are interested in cars that Speed Vegas does not have, or you want to try a different track, there are another places very similar at the Las Vegas Speedway Commerce Center North if Las Vegas.  For instance Exotics Racing and Dream Racing.

The Ferrari 488

This is the first Ferrari I had ever driven.  I rode through town in a 430 once but that was my total time in a Ferrari up to now.  This car makes about 660HP.  My Cayman S makes less than half that. The Ferrari does weigh about 300lbs more than the Cayman S though. The brakes were great.  They were steel rotors for track duty but had a solid feel and you could push them very hard.  They were easy to modulate and not prone to lockup.  Honestly, it was similar to my Cayman S with moderate track pads.  We had it in sport mode the whole time.  The traction control was too aggressive in this mode.  I am pretty sure the delay in power was much more than turbo lag.  At times under hard cornering when you wanted to apply the power and track out it was very slow to respond.  It had more under steer than I like too.  As far as cornering, it did not feel like it had anything over my Cayman S.  In fact, the Cayman feels more connected and agile. Once the power came on full it accelerated nicely but was never a handful.  The car was great to drive but honestly I still love my Cayman S.  Maybe if I drove the car much more, and took it to a few track weekends I would change my mind but I doubt it.  I left still loving my Cayman S which is a good thing.


1 comment:

Greg Prosmushkin said...

Thanks for taking the time to share this wonderful post with us. It was great seeing the awesome video that you shared in this article. It looked like a sweet time. Have a great rest of your day.
Greg Prosmushkin