The 483-horsepower V8 engine roars in front of you as you shift gears, and the speedometer climbs over 150 miles per hour. Gliding down the straightaway, you grip the wheel of a Ferrari F430. You don't need to buy your own exotic car to experience this adrenaline rush: American Racing Experience connects visitors with a similar emprise on four major raceways across the United States. At scheduled times at the Motorspeedway in Atlanta, Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, and Adams Mortorsports Park in Los Angeles, they brief drivers on the handling and controls of sleek Ferraris and V10 engine-powered, six-speed Lamborghini Gallardos. After preparing visitors for the upcoming track with a lap in a pace car, instructors slip into the passenger seat—letting their guests take the wheel for a driving experience more extreme than some TV show set on an island.
Sitting behind the wheel of a 32 Sodi RX7 kart has a way of making you feel like a professional stunt driver. Maybe it's zipping up your driver’s suit or snapping on your helmet. Either way, at Summit Point Kart, all participants get the look they want and the safety orientation they need to cut turns like Andretti when they take on that piece of half-mile track known as the Washington Circuit.
Overhead, lights blaze down on the track’s 22 turns, so karters can race well into the evening or on that day after summer solstice when the sun is too partied out to get out of bed. Racers who get hooked can get themselves a yearly membership card, which discounts the price of racing credits. Little ones enamored with the track can enlist in a four-hour kart school that builds confidence behind the wheel.
2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace allows amateurs to feel first-hand how a real race car rumbles as its tires scorch a professional speedway. Participants can either ride shotgun with an experienced driver or hop behind the wheel to tackle the track themselves. For more of the genuine experience, drivers don the full array of safety gear before climbing or vaulting through the window, including a sleek racing suit, helmet, and HANS neck-protection device.