Father’s Day is coming up fast, and for those looking for a unique gift for dear ole dad, boy do I have an idea for you. I recently was able to try an Xtreme Xperience day of driving…on a race track…in a Ferrari. And if I (a self-admitted) wimp had the time of my life, then you can be sure dad will have a ball. Let’s break down what you and dad can expect before you get behind the wheel…
To start, you will be on a real race track. Not a straight line, but a legit course where professional drivers head to get their need for speed on. Some tracks might be in a circle, but our location was a curvier loopy course at The Autobahn Country Club in Joliet. This is a country club for car-lovers so the course was designed to pique the interest of even more experienced drivers. Upon seeing the course map, I definitely felt the nerves building.
But before they let you near a car, you have to go through Xtreme Xperience driving school where you learn about cars you will be experiencing, the road course racetrack you will be driving/riding, and you will learn basic racing fundamentals and safety from a pro. Plus they get you excited to be driving your chosen car!
Then it’s out onto the track, and into your (suuuuuper flattering) helmet/gear. Yes, I look like an alien, but it did make me feel more professional and is also an important safety component. From there you have two driving experience options:
- driving (3 laps, with a professional driver riding in the front seat)
- riding (along for the ride in the front seat with a pro driver hitting the gas)
I elected to do a quick ride along, which was very helpful in terms of having a better feel for the course, getting used to hearing their instructions of when to break/speed up/coast/turn etc, and also was a cool viewpoint. When I was driving, I was paying more attention to my driving, as opposed to sitting back and enjoying going almost 100 mph around sharp turns. The ride along was like being at an amusement park…driving myself was like what I dream being in a Fast & Furious movie would be like.
And so now onto the driving itself! There are a number of cars you can choose from when booking your experience, including a few different Ferraris. I chose this Italian speed demon because the instructors told me it was fit well for shorter people (like me) and also had the most race car-like driving experience.
I sat with my wonderful, and patient, instructor and tried not to have a panic attack while we waited for our turn to hit the road. Thankfully for me, he was patient, knowledgable and kept me calm until I hit the gas. And then we were off! It was a full adrenaline rush, and I loved flying around the turns! My instructor talked me through every curve in our trusty headsets, and also encouraged me to go faster, turn sharper and generally bring out my inner speed demon. But all very safely!
In class before, we were told that women tend to be better at these courses than men (haha) because we follow directions better. For me, following those directions meant I never felt out of control or unsafe, even if I was pushing my limits of comfort. It is never something I would ever have thought I would love, but once I got out of the car, all I wanted to do was race some more laps!
This is the perfect Father’s Day gift, or just day of adventure, for any Ricky Bobby lovers out there who want to test their limits and get behind the wheel of a real speed machine. Just make sure to watch your speedometer when you’re back driving your own car home!