*Image via here.
This story was originally written by Alexander Howard at Lonely Planet. You can view the full article here.
You’ve bet (and lost) your shirt at the roulette table. You’ve eaten yourself into a coma at one of the legendary buffets. You’ve driven down the Strip blinking in awe at the shimmering neon. So now what? To find Vegas experiences outside the casinos but still guaranteed to get the pulse racing, our Destination Editor Alexander Howard went beyond the call of duty and reports back from the front line.
City of extremes: getting behind the wheel
I am not, it seems, a very good race car driver. At least not in the simulator. Robbie, my instructor, stands with his elbow resting on the roll-cage around me, waiting for me to find the right spot on the digitized track to make a turn. ‘You’re missing the apex’, he says, which is true, because at this point I’m off the track and driving over the pixelated gravel. The racing simulator is like something out of a video game arcade, and I’ve missed the apex nearly every time. ‘You’re braking too soon’, Robbie says with a hint of frustration.
The instructors promise that the simulator is harder than driving the actual track. Driving a race car requires depth perception, which is tough to replicate on a 2-d monitor, and the mind has a difficult time gauging when to turn and brake without the sensation of g-forces. I, for one, hope that’s true, and I sense that Robbie feels the same way.
It turns out, they’re right. After donning a helmet and a racing onesie, I’m squished into the driver’s seat of a Ferrari F430 GT. The ignition, a flip switch and a quarter-sized red button, brings the engine roaring to life. I snake out of the pit area and gun it onto the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the throaty sound of the V8 behind me overwhelming the car. Nearing a turn, my instructor’s Italian-accented voice comes through a pair of helmet-mounted speakers: ‘Brake hard’. I happily oblige, because this is the fastest I’ve ever driven – the car feels as though it’ll be ripped from the track, but I quickly sense the tires’ grip on the road.
The Ferrari F430 GT is a proper race car, fitted with a front splitter, a rear wing and a rear diffuser, all of which function to hold the car to the ground. The effect is immense. The 19in racing-slick tires magically stay on the track. This is not your average Ford Focus.
‘Go, go, go!’ my instructor is saying. I’ve left the turn and the track is open in front of me. I press hard on the accelerator, seeking the apex of the next turn.
Top tip: Book a time around noon, when the sun is high. The glare of a low sun can effectively blind a driver. And for an additional fee, Dream Racing (dreamracing.com) will time your laps – a necessary bit of info when you can hardly look away from the road to glance at the speedometer.
Read more here.