You probably read stories in car magazines about showing up to a private track and getting turned loose in exotic cars and think, "that would be pretty cool." Well, you may not know you have the opportunity to do that if you happen to be in Los Angeles. Exotics Racing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., operates a fleet of exotic cars that is meant for the average person, with no prior track experience, to show up and drive on a road course.
The Exotics Racing track in LA is made up of 8 turns with a total length of 1.2 miles with a front straight 1,600 feet long. They have a similar track at the Speedway in Las Vegas, but let's be honest, who goes to Vegas to drive cars in 115-degree heat? When we visited, cars ranged from Porsche Caymans and Corvettes all the way up to a Ferrari 488 and McLaren 570S. Cars vary in price and start at roughly $200 for five laps. As the value of the cars goes up, so does the price and additional laps can be added on to your package on site. Most visitors will also opt for the in-car video of their experience, because as we all know, if you don't post it to Facebook, it never happened.
Once you arrive, you get a brief but informative classroom session, explaining the track, basic driving technique and warning you not to hit stuff. After the classroom, you get a ride around the track in a Porsche Cayenne to identify sightlines, learn car positioning and see how pit-in and pit-out work. When it is time to drive, you sit in the car with an instructor who talks you through your laps.
The track is built in an old overflow parking lot for the speedway, but the entire racing surface has been repaved. The track is technical with just enough elevation to let you know it's there. There are definitely some bumps and pitches that can throw the car off line and unsettle the suspension, so this isn't like driving on an indoor kart track. The McLaren I drove was reaching 130-plus mph at the end of the straight, so that gives you an idea of how fast the track is.
I hear people say all the time that they want to fly into LA, rent an exotic and drive Pacific Coast Highway. Don't do it. PCH is full of traffic, construction and Angelinos. You won't have any fun and you certainly won't get to do anything that will help you to really appreciate an exotic car. Take that same amount of cash, drive your rented V6 Mustang convertible out to Fontana and drive an exotic the way it is meant to be driven. If it was me, I'd start in one of the slower cars to learn the track, maybe for the 5-lap experience. Then move up to whatever it is you've always dreamed of driving. I ended driving the LV02 racecar that Exotics not only uses for these experiences, but also for an arrive-and-drive racing series. If you really want exotic, nothing is more thrilling than an actual tube frame, purpose-built, road racing car. If that doesn't impress your Facebook friends, well who cares, they're Facebook friends. Do it for you.