For a year and a half or so now I’ve been on deal-a-day lists like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Amazon Local. Several driving experience deals have come and gone, to be expected considering I live in the land of Nascar and Indycar (aka Indiana). When the first decent one came up, I’d asked MG if he’d be interested in it and he told me no. And then two months later he admitted that he had been interested, but the bastard hadn’t wanted me to spend the money. That burned my butt. So I kept a look out for deals after that.
At least three other deals popped up since then. Some research showed that they featured handicapped vehicles and minuscule amounts of time behind the wheels. Xtreme Xperience popped up on Amazon Local, featuring not Nascar or Indycars but super cars…the kind MG drools over on Top Gear. Yeah, I knew I had to research it. Especially when a few clicks showed they had one of these Nissan GT-R Godzillas (see the blue car above). Anyone who has played GranTurismo with MG knows he’s lusted after Nissan Skyline for at least fifteen years, and the GT-R is apparently the next iteration. So yeah, I was sold. I did a little more research to make sure he wasn’t going to be disappointed in the experience–that he’d actually be able to drive, and drive fast. Yup. The reviews assured me it was awesome.
I asked if we had any plans that day without telling him any details. MG assured me we didn’t. I told him I had to make a tough decision and I hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed (the tough decision was whether or not I booked him into the GT-R or the Audio R8). He said he was certain whatever I picked would be fine. I told him to remember he’d said that 😀
So I bought the deal on July 21st for a driving date of August 30th. And then I kept him in suspense for more than a month. Everyone I told praised me for my ability to keep a secret. Yeah, I have that kind of control when it comes to gifts-for-MG but not for chocolate 😉 But I couldn’t just let it be easy for him. Every week I’d sing a little song about how we were doing something secret on August 30th just to keep him on his toes. And during the second half of August I’d drop mean hints like, “It’s not in Indy but it’s not in Brazil either.” and “You’ll be hungry after. We’ll go for BBQ.” and the meanest of all, “You’re going to need a change of clothing.”
He was convinced I was taking him skydiving or in a hot air balloon.
And so on August 30th I suggested we go to breakfast and took photos of his what in the world are you doing to me later face. (Ex A.)
Filled with bacon and eggs, we hopped in the car and drove east. Because we didn’t get off at the Brazil exit, he was completely thrown…he correctly thought I was taking him to something racing-related and thought we’d go to the Lincoln track in Putnamville.
I sat grinning madly and giggling in the passenger seat. When I asked him if he had any idea what I’d done to him, he said, “Tickets Top Gear Live?” I frowned at that. My surprise, though awesome, wasn’t quite as awesome as that.
Here’s the look on his face when we arrive (Ex B.). It’s not much different. He wouldn’t cooperate and give me the jaw-drop I’d hoped for.
He figured out pretty quickly that I had, indeed, booked him for a car experience but he didn’t know the extent of it until we got closer and he could see the cars.
Here’s the setup and the cars (except for the Stingray).
After checking in, and seeing all the cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mclaren, Nissan, R8, Ford, & Chevy in no particular order), MG sat through a driver’s course that lasted about twenty minutes. While waiting on him, the excitement of these awesome cars and how noisy/fast they were going around that track got to me. I decided I couldn’t let him have all the fun, so I checked inside to see how much a ride in one of the cars cost. It was only $30 to ride along in the pace car (which was either a Mustang or a Camaro). Though I salivated over the Audi, ride alongs in everything but the Mustang or Camaro cost $90. That was far higher than I was willing to pay.
After MG’s driver course, he decided he wanted to do a ride along as well so he could get the lay of the land…er course. We tramped down to wait in the long line for rides in the pace cars.
They had us put on helmet sock thingies that were shocking red while we waited (red is so not my color).
And waited. We were in line for a pace car ride for forty minutes. In that time it rained, stopped, cleared up, and then started sprinkling again. Part of the problem was the line for the pace cars was huge and the Mustang ran out of gas so they were having to take people around one at a time.
This is as close as I got to any of the super cars.
Finally our time came. They’d refilled the Mustang. MG and I got to go out on the same run. He got the Mustang and I got the Camaro. The driver in my car was nice. He introduced himself as Nick and shook my hand. I couldn’t see much of him beyond his big black helmet nor could I understand half of what he said over the roar of the engine and the chatter on the guy’s walkie-talkie. The ride around the track was crazy fast even though he said he’d only gotten up to 110MPH (the Camaro’s top speed). Into the corners I swear I slammed into the car door and then the armrests depending on which side we were turning, but it was all good. I didn’t get hurt. He tried to persuade me to book a drive in one of the cars, but if anything, that ride scared me more than helped. I told him I had considered the R8 but didn’t think I’d do it justice (it had the cutest put-put sound when someone passed as if it was letting off steam). Maybe next year. MG’s ride along went well. His driver was the head trainer and his helmet was mic’d so they could hear each other. That was a nice feature I could have used.
After our rides, MG set off to get into the line for his GT-R drive. Unfortunately the next batch of eager drivers had descended on the tents and he was dead last. His wait was something like fifty minutes because each driver got to take three laps, the total time is about seven minutes, and there’s some setup time in between. He said the event coordinators were trying to lure people away from the GT-R by offering free upgrades to the pricier cars. No one bit.
At long last his time came.
He got in, and promptly ignored everything the helpful driving instructor in the passenger seat told him to do. Don’t accelerate in the turn? Pshawww. He claimed the trainer guy in the pace car told him to accelerate in two of the turns, so when it came time to do it himself MG did. Meanwhile the guy in the seat next to him is shouting “Brake! Brake! Brake! Brake!” But honey badger don’t give a shit.
The highlight of my day? MG got passed by the freaking Corvette. I won’t ever let him live that one down. From my vantage point, the turns looked super slow. I know he was babying it at the start because the accelerator responded far faster than he’s used to and he nearly rear-ended a Lambo as they were staging. In the end he said on the straightaway his top speed reached 143MPH.
He was pleased and told all his friends and said I’d picked well with the Nissan (though he wouldn’t have been disappointed with driving the R8 either). I’m sure we’ll do this again when/if it comes back next year. And maybe I’ll have the courage to try a turn behind the wheel myself.