|Me and the Ferrari F430|
In the lead-up to last Christmas, my husband started dropping hints that I shouldn’t expect as exciting a present as the year before. Given that the previous year’s gift had been the chance to go on the Mercedes-Benz winter driving course I believed him. I shouldn’t have.
Christmas morning found a diecast Ferrari in my stocking, together with a certificate for five laps in a Ferrari F430 at the ICAR Experience in Mirabel. Of course, there was a bit of a wait, since they don’t take the exotics out on the track in the winter, but I eventually booked an appointment for June 24.
I’d figured since it was the middle of the week, even though it was a holiday here in Quebec, they wouldn’t be that busy. Ha! There’s a lot of stuff going on up there. They have a go-kart track and a carting track, in addition to at least one track for cars. We had trouble finding a parking spot. Despite that, the line-up to check in was short, and soon I was waiting to be called for the orientation class prior to track time.
Then it was on to the track itself and another short wait in line. I’d been expecting the car to be red, but I have no complaints about the shiny black one I got to drive. I’d been a bit worried because I’ve never driven a standard, but it was a semi-automatic, so there was no clutch or gears to deal with. With the instructor in the passenger seat directing me, I waited for someone in a Corvette to pass and then entered the track.
It took me a couple of laps to get my bearings, both with the track and with the car, but after that it was grand. While I’m sure I didn’t break any speed records, I wasn’t the slowest one on the track either. The car handled beautifully, with steering, gas and brakes all very responsive. The engine wasn’t as loud as I expected, but it certainly had power. Especially the last time around when I gunned it on the straight stretch.
I really enjoyed the experience (I'm still smiling), and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s ever wanted to drive an exotic, or just see what their own car can do on the track. Have to admit I couldn’t follow the pre-track lecture, which was delivered entirely in French (I do speak some French, but I’m not bilingual), so be warned if you’re not comfortable in French that the Mirabel location might be a problem. All the other staff members I encountered did speak some English, however.
Also, do spend the extra money and go for the five lap package. That gives you time to get comfortable with the car.