“I feel the need… the need for speed!”
For as long as I can remember, my brother’s dream car is a Nissan Skyline. While not available in the US, the Nissan GTR is the spiritual successor of the Skyline. So when we went on a quick 3 night guys trip to Vegas, last week we naturally had to go and drive a Nissan GTR. Las Vegas is one of only a handful of places in the US where you can take a Nissan GTR out on a race track and truly push the car to it’s limits. We ultimately chose Exotics Racing for our driving experience instead of Speed Vegas and Dream Racing Vegas because based on reviews it had the funnest track to drive on.
They have a large variety of cars to choose from ranging from $199-$499 for a five laps experience. Additional cars are offered at a discount after you arrive, and they offer additional laps at a discount as well. We picked the GTR before hand which was a cost of $249 dollars for five laps, however, we booked with a promotion they had online which gave us an extra lap for free. The prices for the other 3 places are pretty much identical including the free extra lap when booking online. Despite ample searching, there were pretty much no groupons/living social/travel zoo deals for any of these places. All the coupons for those sites always excluded the driving experiences. They are clearly not desperate for customers and do not give out discounts other than the free lap if you book online through their website.
The experience is about a 15 minute drive off the Las Vegas Strip. They offer a shuttle service that runs a couple times a day, but since we had a rental car we just drove out there. We got there 15 minutes before and checked in for our experience which was scheduled to start at 10PM.
They give you a colored wrist band indicating you are a driver and a USB key that attaches to your wrist that records your racing experience. They take your drivers license as well while you are there, and give it back to you at the end after you turn in your USB key.
We were led into the briefing room where you watch a short video showing you racing highlights along with a run through of what the different color cones on the track mean.
They also show you a video of the entire track and talk about what lines to take through each turn, along with what to expect from your instructor and how to pass a car. The sound system in the briefing room was definitely beyond what I expected and was very loud. If you have younger children accompanying you into the briefing room, it could be a little loud for them. After the video, you are further briefed by an instructor on what to expect on the track, and how to maximize your speed out on the track.
After the briefing, you leave the room, and then wait in some silver chairs while waiting to go on your Discovery Laps.
These laps are done in a black Porsche Cayenne SUV.
For a cost of $20 dollars, other non driving guests are allowed to accompany you on your Discovery Laps if they are 11 years old, a minimum of 80 lbs and 4 ft 9 in or taller. The instructor drives through the track twice, giving you a feel for what the track is like.
While waiting for our Discovery Laps, I wandered around the lobby. They had some a some nice car themed decorations on the wall.
There was also an outline of the track we would be driving, that you could study to further prep you for your time on the track.
They also had a Virtual Reality driving simulator that you could try for $39, however, it was never used while we were there given that the whole reason most people come out here is to drive the real thing.
Also, there is a small cafe with some snacks if you or your family gets hungry while waiting.
It was finally our turn to do our Discovery Laps and we got in the Porsche Cayenne. Our instructor took the corners much harder than I would have ever thought was possible in a Porsche Cayenne. When we first got into the car, we were told that there were no pictures allowed due to the roughness of the ride. Initially, I was a little skeptical, but I must say, for what the instructor called a “soccer mom” car, he definitely maximized it’s potential. I was in the back seat with my seat belt on and I was definitely getting thrown around a little. It was definitely more entertaining than I thought it would be and made me reconsider just how nimble a Porsche Cayenne really is.
Afterwards you go back inside the building and check in for your laps at the pit-lane counter.
They take a quick photo in front of a green screen that you can purchase later if you so choose.
You then get fitted for your helmet, and then wait for your turn to drive your super car.
During this time you can wander around and look at the cars. There are overhead speakers every around the facility letting you know when it’s your turn, so you do not have to worry about missing your turn. There is a screen showing who is in your current session, that also shows the best laps times once you are done.
My brother went on his drive first.
He went one lap and his car malfunctioned and wouldn’t shift up. It took two more laps for them to decided to do a pit stop and check out the problem. After some troubleshooting they found the problem and he got to restart his experience doing another 5 full laps in the GTR.
While he was driving I went up to the observation deck which is above the small outdoor picnic area.
The observation deck gives you a view of the entire track from above.
This was the best place to get some video of the experience, however, the main floor area has a better angle to take pictures of the car while racing.
After he was done it was my turn and to do 6 laps in the GTR. They put a little reminder on the course as you are getting onto the track, just to make sure you remember to go fast.
It takes about 1 minute/lap so you are out on the course for a little over 6 minutes. The instructor knows EXACTLY how hard you can push your car. He knows EXACTLY when to brake, how hard to brake, how hard to turn, etc. Also, for those that are concerned about safety, he does have a brake on his side of the car as well to slow you down if he does feel you are taking a turn a little too quick. These instructors are incredibly professional, and somehow maintain their calm the entire time. This is despite the fact that they are riding in a car with someone they have never met, and then having that person drive them over 140mph around a track that you could definitely potentially kill them on. These people definitely earn their pay, and it is recommended you tip them, and I definitely recommend you tip them as well.
Overall, I definitely coulda done better on the track, and I definitely coulda done worse. It definitely gives you an appreciation for what it takes to be a race car driver. I must say that the instructors truly know exactly what the car can handle. Anytime I did not listen to them exactly, just out of sheer nervousness or tentativeness to break out of my daily driving habits, the car would definitely have a drop in performance. I would either lose my grip in the turn, have a harder time making a turn, or lose a significant amount of speed when I shouldn’t have. After 5 laps, you really start to be able to open the car up, but sadly by that point I only had 1 more lap left. I definitely gave it my best shot on my last lap, but interestingly enough, it was my 4th lap that was my fastest.
Once you are done you return your helmet and turn in your USB key and they give you your license back. They then show you a preview of your video. The video also shows you your best lap time as well, along with how fast you were going at all times during your drive. The video is $79 dollars and looked to have good HD quality. It had a cockpit view and your stats and speed throughout the whole time. It also has completely UNCENSORED audio, so just keep that in mind if you want to show your little ones. We chose not to buy the video as we had already spent $79 dollars on the experience, but if you do, the quality appeared very good, and would definitely make a nice souvenir.
We then walked around and looked at the cars for a bit. It is not every day you are in a parking lot surrounded by millions of dollars of exotic dream cars. We took a bunch of pictures and got in some of the cockpits for fun.
If you do not want to drive, you can ride along can add on a ride in the Dodge Charger Hellcat with a professional drifter or just ride along with a professional driver as they attack the course. We opted not to do this as well as our funds are not unlimited, but if we were to go back we would definitely give it a try as it looked fun. Being able to ride with a driver who can truly maximize the car would definitely be a blast, as just riding in the Porsche Cayenne during the Discovery Laps at the beginning was a real treat that we were not expecting.
Ultimately, the entire experience lasted about 1 hour and 45 minutes, however, we had a malfunction with our car, and were also the last group of people to go. If we were the first to go, we would have been done in about an hour. I would budget two hours for the entire experience and more if you want to spend some time outside walking around the super cars.
In conclusion this was a top notch experience. It is definitely a little pricey at a minimal cost of $199 to drive a race car for 5 laps, but I will say it is definitely a unique once in a lifetime experience. There are very few places you can take an exotic super car for a spin on a real racing track, but this is definitely a fun place to do it. The staff was very friendly, and truly seemed to enjoy their job. They are all very passionate about cars and also very knowledgeable as well. The check in process was also very efficient and the staff well trained.
The facility was very well maintained and clean as were the cars. The cars looked showroom fresh, and had minimal wear on them despite some cars having over 25,000 miles. The cars also looked like they have never been through a car wash in their lives, as they were showroom shiny, with no visible streak marks from ever being washed. Everyone was very courteous, and while they were always asking if you wanted more laps or to add on another car, they were never pushy, and accepted the answer of no without any argument.
From a family standpoint, this experience is unfortunately not the most family friendly. In order to drive a car you must be 18 years old and have a valid license. A child must be 11 years old, a minimum of 80 lbs and 4 ft 9 in or older to participate in the Dodge Hellcat SRT Drift Ride-Along, High-Speed Ride Along, or Discovery Laps, so young children are excluded from doing anything. Their lounge area is nice and large with lots of space to roam, which can keep kids entertained for a bit. There was a podium that I saw some kids enjoy jumping off of and playing on.
Kids would definitely love seeing the exotic race cars, however, due to the nature of cars constantly coming and going from the pit area a parent would need to keep a very close eye on their children while in the pit area to keep them from potentially being hit by a car.
Ultimately, while I may not spend $249 dollars to drive an exotic race car again, I am definitely glad I did, and would recommend this place to anyone wanting to drive one. If I was to come back I would definitely do a ride along experience instead to really get a feel for what these race cars can do without my limitation as a driver. Overall, I give it a 5/5 stars.