Exotics Racing Details:
- Suppercar driving experience | Cost based on car choice
- Driver instruction | No experience necessary | Menu of options
- Private track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway
- 5-lap options ranging from Porsche Cayman to Lamborghini Aventador
In today’s rite of passage hierarchy, flogging a sports car falls somewhere between “going all the way” and hunting dangerous game. But what are us speed-hungry common folk to do when supercar price tags float deep into six figures? Rent an ill-maintained exotic for the weekend? That’ll cost thousands, and you better not curb it. A serious track school, while highly advised, ain’t cheap. Those pop-up cone course exotic car experiences seem like a carnival tease at best. Aside from befriending a supercar owner, few average guy options exist for those curious about pure four-wheeled performance. Exotics Racing and its a la carte menu of driving experiences is working to change all of that though.
2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S - First Drive
“The idea has always been to give access to these cars to as many people as possible by keeping the prices low and adapting the track experience to all levels of drivers,” said David Perisset, Exotics Racing CEO. “Romain Thievin [co-owner] was a professional racecar driver at the time, and his expertise and knowledge was key in transforming this idea into a successful business model. It launched first in France, near Paris, in 2005. Then US in 2009.”
Exotics Racing opened its American doors in Las Vegas and has since rapidly expanded into Southern California. The only stipulations are you must be 18 years old and have a current driver’s license. Cost is purely dependent on car choice(s) and number of laps - no deposit or insurance liability is required. Today the most popular fleet cars are the Ferrari F430 and 458 along with the Lamborghini Gallardo LP550.
Perisset recounts business growth of what is now called the largest company fleet of exotics in the world, totaling 48 cars and valued at an estimated 9 million dollars:
“We are both from modest origins, so we put everything we had in one car, and created our website. We then set up the business model to self-finance growth. Since then, we stayed independent. I am not sure if this would be feasible today!
“Others have followed, but our level of experience remains unmatched, due to over 200,000 customers over 9 years of experience (130,000 in the US and over 41,000 drivers in 2013). We have designed and own our racetracks and have a staff of over 140 people. The fact that so many companies are trying to replicate our business model is flattering.”
The Exotics Racing business model could be compared to the process of restaurant dining. You arrive, grab a menu, weigh the options against your bank account, order and anxiously await your turn to dig in. It’s that simple and on a mildly busy day the entire process took about 2.5hrs from start to finish, including both a $299/5lap Porsche 997 Turbo S drive (wow, that car’s fast!) and $100 Corvette Z06 drift ride-along, which happened to be with driver Romain Thievin. Everything is for sale here including flash drive delivered video of your laps - see above. Vehicles are safety checked and maintained after each day of use, as well.
After touring the exclusive 1.2-mile Exotics Racing circuit and plush welcome building at Las Vegas Speedway, I traveled to the up-and-coming Auto Club Speedway location in Fontana, CA, which opened this year. Unlike Vegas, the Fontana facility utilizes a large canvas pop-up structure for now and NASCAR-sized parking lot turned paved and painted 1.2 mile, 8-turn private road course. Where it lacks in elevation change or banking it makes up for in open space to blow a corner.
Along for the ride was a friend that had a) never been on track, b) never driven a modern sports car and c) fancied herself a spirited street driver – the perfect Exotics Racing candidate. This particular Saturday was cloudy but busy. The clientele varied from office dads in tow with photo snapping family to twenty-something’s celebrating a birthday, wives of executives and gearheads looking to add another notch on the belt. We even heard stories of club racers practicing here instead of at track days because of time and cost savings – each lap after 5 ranges in price from $30 to $70, depending on vehicle.
After picking your poison (5 laps in a Ferrari 458 Italia will cost you $349 while a Porsche Cayman R is a cool $199), your group is ushered into a short instructional class where words like “apex” and “braking zone” are thrown around. Then it is off to an instructor led sighting lap in a Porsche Cayenne before finally waiting your turn to take “x” car around the track with instructor sitting shotgun. Expect others to also be on circuit.
A passenger side brake pedal like that found in a Driver’s Ed car and multiple cameras recording each session help minimize risk along with track crash barriers. “We had a couple of front bumper incidents over the years, but nothing major. Our tracks in Las Vegas and Los Angeles are the only ones in the world equipped with the latest generation of Formula One safety barriers. Only a few of the Formula One GP circuits, like the COTA in Austin, are equipped with them,” said Perisset.
While the Auto Club Speedway facility is only open for business on Saturdays with occasional Sunday exceptions, the fully-furnished Las Vegas locale is open nearly every day of the year, catering to Sin City travelers – EDC weekend being one of those times its closed due to zonked-out ravers taking refuge across the LVM complex.
Exotics Racing offers normal people a chance to haul ass in a very expensive supercar. Spending $300 to $500 dollars for a few hours of fun isn’t a routine expense but it is attainable for just about everyone. Our test candidate was beyond thrilled with the experience, citing the sub 3sec 0-60mph acceleration of the Porsche 997 Turbo S as, “awesome.” It also unlocked her want to pursue further track days.
When asked what supercars will be purchased next, Perisset answered:
“Aside from the Bugatti Veyron, which is far too expensive to run, expect all of the greatest and latest of the major exotic car manufacturers. We have just added the new Porsche 991 GT3 to our fleet, and it is the new favorite of all our instructors. The next major car will be the new Lamborghini Huracan, joining our fleet in September.”
You’ll be hard pressed to find someone uninterested in tracking a risk-free Lamborghini Superleggera, Audi R8 or Nissan GT-R. That is the beauty of this business. Menu options are solid and turn around time is quick keeping this capitalistic sports car experience very profitable. There has been an American resurgence in chasing adventure and that plays perfectly into the Exotics Racing business model. Expect continued expansion at both the Las Vegas and Fontana facilities before breaking ground on new venues.