This Chick Has No Need for Speed

I’d made it three times around the track already, heartthumping, sincerely scared. Yet I hadn’t knocked over any orange cones or barrels, hadn’t tipped the $270,000 Lamborghini LP570-4 Superleggera on its side, hadn’t accidentally bloodied the bored young man in the passenger seat.

This is the Lamborghini I drove.

This is an official photo of the Lamborghinis available.

“I can go faster,” I thought. “This is a race track, after all.” So I pressed harder on the stiff gas pedal. And I zoomed along a straight stretch of the Daytona International Speedway. I panicked at the next bend, whammed on the brake, then took two more cautious mile-long laps around before being told to return to home base. But I’d done it: I’d donned a helmet, climbed into a powerful and sexy automobile, and had my way with the road.

This adventure was thanks to Exotic Driving Experience, which was kind enough to invite members of the media to drive sports cars around the Daytona track. Exotic sets up shop there regularly, and offers the same opportunity at the Walt Disney World Speedway year-round. Prices begin at $169.

Most of my fellow drivers were men, and they were excited, envying the instructors for having the best job in the world, practically panting for their turns behind the wheel of a Ferrari, or maybe a Porsche.

We had a classroom lesson on what to do. The thrust: “Stop when the pro next to you says to, without pause.”). Then we hopped on a shuttle and waited our turns.

I’d never dreamed of driving a sports car. I’m happy with my Prius station wagon, the world’s least-sexy car. But, come on, I had to take this offer. An elderly employee picked up on my panic and gently helped me place a heavy helmet on my head, and gave me a gentle hug while telling me to calm down and enjoy myself, thus confirming that I am pathetic. And that was before I noticed the ambulance parked at the edge of the track.

I got in, and as I started driving I slammed into the headrest repeatedly. It shows in the video I took home with me: My head kept kapowwing against the seat top, over and over. Smooth? Not for me. But gradually I bumped less and rode more, and proceeded along with the allotted six laps.

This is the beginning. Watch my head bump. And bump. (I can't figure out how to insert the actual video.)

Upon my return, I went to a tent under which a woman printed out my riding scores. The young men who’d gone before me were gleeful. Glowing, ecstatic, practically  jumping and clapping, “That was the experience of a lifetime!” They had numbers to back up euphoria “I went 104 miles per hour!” one said, pointing to his printout. “ I went 107!” another exclaimed.

This is one of the guys' printout. Note the top speed of 109 mph.

I’d been too terrified to enjoy my ride the way they did theirs, but surely my computerized report would make me feel better. Think of what I could tell my sons I’d done. Until I looked. “63 miles per hour.” Yes, my fastest speed in a sleek black Lamborghini Superleggera was a piddly 63 mph. I got there by driving 74 on the highway to Daytona. Faster, in the Prius, within the legal limit, than on the road that hosts the thrilling Daytona 500.

This coming Saturday I’ll be flying in a hot air balloon. Thankfully, I won’t be at the wheel.

Keep life fun,