If you are a gearhead and you’re planning a trip to Sin City, you should know there is a horsepower oasis out in the desert called Speed Vegas. This oasis isn’t a mirage or just your imagination, it is a reality — a 12-turn, 1.5-mile racetrack reality — where you, yes you, can drive a multitude of exotic supercars. Have you ever wanted to put the pedal to the metal on a Lamborghini with no fear of getting a speeding ticket, or worse landing in jail? You can do that at Speed Vegas.
I wanted a break from all of the cigarette smoke in the casino, so I chose to breathe in some high octane gas fumes instead.
I was in Las Vegas recently and decided I wanted a break from all of the cigarette smoke in the casino, so I chose to breathe in some high octane gas fumes instead. Just ten minutes south of the infamous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign I found myself standing in the entryway to a Shangri-La for car geeks. All I needed to have fun on the racetrack was a valid driver’s license and a few hundred bucks in my wallet. The only thing left to do was choose what flavor of supercar I would be driving. And the choices were epic.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Here are a few of the outstanding choices at Speed Vegas I had to choose from. I chose to list them from top to bottom by the obvious and most important thing: horsepower.
Ferrari 488 GTB, $350,000, 661 horsepower
Lamborghini Huracan, $315,000, 631 horsepower
Audi R8 V10 Plus, #200,000, 610 horsepower
Nissan GT-R Nismo, $175,000, 600 horsepower
Lamborghini Gallardo, $200,000, 562 horsepower
Mercedes AMG GT-S, $140,000, 515 horsepower
Porsche 911 GT3, $150,000, 500 horsepower
Before I made my decision on which car I would be sliding around the racetrack I had the chance to look around the exclusive parking lot to help me make my choice. The cool part was I could do more than just look at these supercars, I could actually sit in each of the cars, feel the Italian leather, see if the ergonomics worked well with my body. It turns out I found that my butt fits quite well in any car that costs over two hundred grand. Apparently my ass has expensive tastes.
Like any red blooded American boy, I found the Ferrari calling to me. The shape, the color, the engine, the racing heritage, the Ferrari has it all. But, I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to play with. There were a lot of choices and all of them were legit.
I had already driven an Audi R8 V10 Plus around the Circuit of the Americas, so I wanted to try something different. They had Mustangs — you could drive a Shelby GT 350 and a drift Mustang — but I had already pedaled one of those around Buttonwillow Raceway Park for an episode of Horsepower Wars. I wanted to try something new. But what it would be, I still wasn’t sure.
A Little Instruction
Before I got the chance to hit the track in whatever car I decided to rent for some laps, it was time to sit through a quick instructional session from the folks at Speed Vegas. They covered the 12-turn track, apex and braking cones and the half-mile straight where I would get the chance to stand on the happy pedal for a long time and get some serious speed. They made a few mentions of things not to do, “If you spin out or go off the track, the session is immediately over.” That was good to know. Run the car hard, but not too hard or the party will be over early. Nobody wants that.
My Weapon Of Choice
After some debating, and checking my credit limit, I finally decided on my hot rod for the day — a Porsche 911 GT3 — rear engine, rear-wheel drive, and German. This car model has won more races than all of the other cars in the Speed Vegas stable combined. I had never had the opportunity to drive a GT3.
You can’t go down to Hertz and rent one of these cars. And even if you could, you can’t drive on public roads like a total madman on a racetrack. My only real opportunity to feel the power and purpose of a Porsche GT3 was to wheel it around the Speed Vegas track. It seemed like a no-brainer decision. I was going to take the GT3 and drive it like I stole it.
I was assigned an instructor to ride shotgun with me in the Porsche. I felt sorry for this guy.
After I made my choice on the Super Beetle, went through the track briefing, and the filling out of the standard lawyer forms, it was time to kill some tires. These tires would be Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s wrapped on a single center lock Porsche 911 GT3 wheel. I was assigned an instructor to ride shotgun with me in the Porsche. I felt sorry for this guy.
As we hit the track, I buried the accelerator pedal and listened to that sweet flat-six scream. The GT3 was everything I wanted it to be, plus a little more. I paddle shifted through the gears and let the Porsche hug the curves. The car was awesome, especially for a turn-key road car on street tires. This thing felt like a racecar. It’s amazing they sell this car to the general public.
The 911 was fantastic and my instructor did a good job of helping me learn the track and bring my lap times down. The only problem was the faster you go, the quicker the experience goes by. I was enjoying the GT3, I didn’t want my day to end. I only signed up for five laps. I should have paid for more.
Some friends of mine came along for the adventure and rented the Nissan GT-R, while others did multi-car packages and enjoyed some Italian supercars. But in the end, it all ended for each of us. We had to turn our cars back in and jump in an Uber to head back to The Strip. Our party was over. Bummer!
I enjoyed my time at Speed Vegas. The experience wasn’t free, but it cost less than a long ugly stint at a blackjack table on Las Vegas Boulevard. I’ll be back, and next time I have a date with the Ferrari.