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March 6, 2012

News & Features

Disney's new driving track sure to be a wild ride

Tampa Bay Times

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The Exotic Driving Experience is located at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. (Disney)

To most of us, exotic cars — or supercars — are just something we fawn over while reading automotive magazines or watching "Top Gear." The closest we get to one might be at a "do not touch" auto show exhibit.

Until now.

Richard Petty Driving Experience is expanding its offering with the new Exotic Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. The new attraction puts you behind the wheel of a performance car for a fraction of the cost of ownership. Each session takes you six laps around the one-mile track configuration, which incorporates the high banks of the speedway as well as a Formula One-style street course. Prices range from $169 to $419, depending on the car.

The cars
  • Drivers can take six laps in any of these vehicles for $169-$419:
  • Porsche 977 S ($169) Zero-100 mph in 9.6 seconds; retails for $100,480 and higher.
  • Audi R8 ($239) Zero-100 mph in 8.7 seconds; retails for $149,000 and higher.
  • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 ($299) Zero-124 mph in 11.8 seconds; retails for $220,000 and up.
  • Lamborghini LP570-4 Superleggera ($389) Zero-124 mph in 10.2 seconds; retails for $260,000 and higher.
  • Ferrari 458 Italia ($419) Zero-100 mph in 6.7 seconds; retails for $280,500 and higher.

"Many of us have dreamed of owning one of these cars, but realities won't allow us," says Mike Bartelli, Petty's chief marketing officer. This program gives you a safe and affordable way to experience the acceleration, braking and handling of these exotic cars, he says.

Ready to take the wheel?

Some common questions and answers:

Q: How many laps do I get?

A: Six. The one-mile course incorporates part of the oval and a Formula One-type street course in the infield with a hairpin, esses and switchbacks. There are 12 turns.

Q: Do I get any instructions?

A: Drivers go through a 45-minute class with a video featuring race car driver Christian Fittipaldi with tips on how to navigate the course. When on the track, an instructor will ride with you.

Q: Do I have to know how to drive a stick shift?

A: No. All of the cars have automatic transmissions. Those who prefer more control can use the paddle shifters.

Q: I'm short. Will I be able to reach the pedals?

A: Most likely so. The sport seats are adjustable (some more than others), and visibility shouldn't be an issue. Short drivers probably will have fewer problems compared with tall drivers, who might have to squeeze in.

Q: How old do you have to be?

A: Minimum age to drive is 18. A driver's license is required.

Q: I don't want to drive. Can I just ride along?

A: Thrill rides will be available for $99 for three laps in one of the cars. The minimum age for a ride is 14.

Q: What do I have to wear?

A: Socks, closed-toe shoes and long pants. The track provides a head sock and an open-faced helmet.

Q: How fast will I go?

A: It depends on the driver, but you can exceed 100 mph if you're good enough. The experience focuses more on the feel of the car, not the speed. In fact, the speedometer is covered up to keep you from getting distracted. You can see how fast you went -- and watch the video -- afterward.

Q: Do I have to sign anything?

A: Yes. A liability waiver is required. There also is a required $35 driver release fee for insurance.

Q: Are photos included?

A: No. But photo packages are available starting at $17.50. Video with in-car data (including speed and lap times) is also available for purchase, starting at $89.

For more information, visit exoticdriving.com.

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