Let’s say you just bought a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso with a top speed of 208 miles per hour and acceleration of zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Where are you going to exploit its potential? Certainly not on congested U.S. highways, with speed traps at every corner.
Your best bet is joining a car club (either general or specific to your model), taking performance-driving lessons, and signing up for a track day. Most racetracks have one-day and weekend programs for novice-to-expert civilians with a fast car and a can-do attitude.
“Track days have given the high-performance driver a safe venue to fulfill the ‘need for speed’ in a controlled environment,” says Peter Bush, a gearhead radio host based in Connecticut. “In most cases, instructors are provided for both the newbie and the seasoned driver looking to further hone his or her skills. Track days make better drivers, and they’re a far better choice than the liability of operating irresponsibly on public roads.”
The private Monticello Motor Club in the Catskill Mountains of New York holds its events at a 4.1-mile track with 22 turns and 1.5 miles of straightaways, on the site of the former regional airport. The club, now in its 10th year, “started out with a few guys who had nice cars and wanted to drive them,” says Nat Mundy, the club’s executive vice president. “Now it’s more formalized; it’s not just us renting a parking lot somewhere.” All are welcome, he says: “The cars are Mazda Miatas, Porsches, all kinds of cars.”
On the West Coast of the U.S., the aptly named Fast Toys Car Club sponsors all-day track events at multiple tracks. A one-year racer membership guarantees a spot at five events in California or Nevada. The events offer the option to drive your own car as much as you’d like, although the track is limited to 40 cars. The price of admission includes a driving coach, lunch, and access to garages at some tracks.