The Great Recession may be over, but there's still a long way to go before the typical driver can park a $500,000 Lamborghini Aventador in his garage. Still, that doesn't stop supercar fans of limited means from daydreaming about driving one someday.
This is not lost on supercar manufacturers, many of whom have realized that their well-to-do clients aren't their only source of revenue. There's money to be made in selling the supercar experience, in allowing average Joes to drive like high rollers for a few minutes.
For just a fraction of the cost of taking one home, laymen drivers can now get inside a Ferrari, Porsche or other luxury supercar and tear up a closed course at breakneck speeds. This thrilling experience is sold by independent businesses and the manufacturers themselves, and even though it's over quickly, it's exhilarating and unforgettable.
Read ahead to see some of the vehicles that are currently available for fleeting—but amazing—supercar experiences.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 26 March 2013
World Class Driving is a Las Vegas-based company that bills itself as "the original supercar entertainment company." It offers clients the opportunity to drive a multitude of iconic vehicles on road and track
The 360 Track Experience offers clients the use of a Ferrari 360 Challenge at one of several locations across the country. The company also offers clients private instruction before they get in the car and burn rubber. Drivers can purchase 40 laps for $3,995.
DFW Drive Your Dream is a Texas-based business that offers the chance to drive one of four "dream cars," namely the Ferrari F430, the Porsche Boxster Spyder, the Audi R8 or the Lamborghini Gallardo.
The Gallardo goes from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds and can reach over 200 mph. It retails for about $200,000. DFW Drive Your Dream allows clients to live the speed demon lifestyle for one hour, at a cost of $429.
Exotics Driving Experience is owned by Petty Holdings, the namesake of none other than NASCAR's Richard Petty. According to its website, customers get "the opportunity to drive a supercar the way it was meant to be driven," namely, on a racetrack at high speeds.
The Virage by Aston Martin is one of the supercars available. It goes from zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds, and zero to 100 in 9.1 seconds. It retails for over $219,000. Exotics Driving Experience, however, will let you take one out for a spin for a much more customer-friendly $269.
Many supercar experience businesses have several brands for their clients to choose from. The Audi Forum in the Raceway at Sonoma is not among of them. As the name suggests, the Audi Forum allows drivers the chance to test an Audi, only an Audi and nothing but an Audi.
According to the website, clients have a range of options for driving the R8, from introductory to advanced programs. They range in price from $1,395 for the sedate "Roads of Sonoma" program to $2,995 for the advanced drivers program.
The Porsche Experience Center in the U.K. allows drivers to test a variety of supercars on a range of courses. This includes the coveted 911 Carrera, which can be tested in the Evolution 911 program.
According to the brochure, the program lasts 90 minutes, split into 30 minute intervals each for the Carrera G Series, the 993 and the 991. Clients can to take part in the Evolution 911 program for just under $500.
Supercar Drive Days is a U.K.-based business offering all the top-of-the-line dream cars anyone would expect, such as the Aston Martin, the Lamborghini and the Bugatti Veyron. But clients wishing to drive the Bugatti do not necessarily drive just one car.
The company offers a $3,779 package in which the client first completes three laps in a Mercedes AMG 63. Then, after skills are assessed, the client completes three laps each in an Aston Martin DBS, a Ferrari 458 Italia and a McLaren MP4-12C, before finally earning the privilege of moving on to the Bugatti.
Based in scenic New Jersey, GT Dream Cars offers every elite vehicle that one would expect of a self-respecting supercar experience company. This includes the Maserati GranTurismo, which clients can drive for three laps at a cost of $237.
According to the website, this fee adds up to about 10 to 15 minutes of drive time. That may seem a little steep for such a relatively short time at the wheel, but compared to buying one for the manufacturer's suggested retail price of $110,000, it's a steal.
The Racing School in the U.K. offers "corporate driving days," a unique spin on the traditional method of wining and dining potential business clients. Instead of dinner at Tony Roma's and tickets to "The Lion King," executives strengthen their business relationships with the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of driving a supercar.
One of the available vehicles is the Giulietta by Alfa Romeo. The website describes the sound of the car's engine as a "raspy purr" and lauds its ability to negotiate tight corners and hairpin turns. This car is available as part of the Formula 1 Driving Day package, which requires a group of at least 10 people at a cost of $1,816 per person.
Located in Las Vegas, Exotics Racing has a 1.2-mile course with seven turns and an 1,800-foot straightaway. According to the website, the course was validated by the official track designer of the IndyCar Series.
The McLaren MP4-12C, among its latest arrivals, has a 3.8-litre V8 and twin-turbo engine. Five laps in this supercar costs $399, but if that just won't do the trick, as many as five more laps can be added, at a cost of $70 each.
Jeff Allen and Perry Barndt are gamblers—their game being classic and exotic cars. They travel the country looking to buy and sell them. Whether it's a rare Shelby Mustang or a vintage hot rod, the key is buy low and sell high, something that doesn't always happen.
Selling cars is a dangerous business, but perhaps there's no greater risk than negotiating with your own father. Tom Souter, Jeff's dad, runs a classic car dealership around the corner from Jeff's shop in Lubbock, Texas. They are not just regular trading partners; they are trading partners hell-bent on one-upmanship. Tom said doing a deal with his son is like being locked in a closet with a porcupine: "It's gonna hurt, but you know it won't kill you."