Need for Speed

Need for Speed

Adrenaline junkies can get behind the wheel with Exotic Rides Cancun By: Irene Middleman Thomas
Clients can speed around in a Lamborghini with Exotic Rides Cancun. // © 2013 Exotic Rides Cancun
Clients can speed around in a Lamborghini with Exotic Rides Cancun. // © 2013 Exotic Rides Cancun

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Exotic Rides Cancun

Take an hour or so away from the powdery white sand and the impossibly turquoise Caribbean Sea and find your inner James Bond (or Jane Bond) at Exotic Rides Cancun. The Mexican-owned attraction, which opened about one year ago near the Cancun International Airport, allows visitors to drive or ride in the cars of their dreams. If you need an adrenaline fix, Exotic Rides Cancun has you covered.

“Awesome,” “once in a lifetime,” “what a rush” and “amazing” are some typical responses from visitors. Some choose to drive the sports cars themselves and others prefer to sit back in the passenger’s seat while a professional NASCAR and/or Rally Mexico-trained driver whips them around the course, trying to beat their previous lap records.

On a recent visit, I slipped into the silver Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with its Batmobile-like wing doors. I took it for five spins around the track — admittedly, I was scared and never topped 40 MPH, but my husband was beaming, zooming at 100 MPH, living out his boyhood fantasies in a bright red Ferrari.

Exotic Rides Mexico has invested $4.5 million in its fully restored car track and its modern building with a reception area, classrooms, an exhibition area, a restaurant, a VIP lounge and a souvenir shop. Its collection of some of the finest and most powerful cars in the world includes Lamborghini (Murcielago and Gallardo) Lotus, Audi (R8,) Mercedes (SLS AMG) and Ferrari (F430 and Scaglietti 612). Exotic Rides can accommodate up to 600 people per day and recommends prior reservations to ensure the customer’s choice of car.

Customers are provided with insurance and a driving and safety class before heading out on the course with their assigned pro driver. All customers must have a valid drivers’ license from their home country and must sign waiver forms. No sandals or alcohol are permitted. The cars are equipped with video cameras that can capture the experience — and a read on the speedometer — for an extra $60.

After watching the safety video and selecting the car, the driver is fitted with a helmet and taken out to the course, a 1.25 mile-long speedway with a curving circuit and straightaways, allowing for top speeds of up to 148 MPH. The pro driver sits in the passenger seat and coaches customers, coaxing them to try to accelerate and take tighter turns. For nervous types like me, they don’t push.

“Do as little or as much as you want,” my driver, Jonathan, said with a smile.

James Bond experiences don’t come cheaply. The drives range from $99 for the Lotus and up to $699 for the Lamborghini Murcielago — plus tax. For those who opt to take a hot lap experience (three laps) as a “copilot,” prices drop to between $56 for the Lotus Elise and go up to $145 for the Lamborghini Murcielago.

Exotic Rides also provides Road Tours, during  which visitors can book the cars (with pro drivers) for drives to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya or even to visit fine-dining establishments. For real adventure junkies, there is the Drifting Experience, during which customers hop into a Camaro SS, with a top speed of 173 MPH, as a copilot while the pro driver “drifts” through the track and spins the car intentionally making 360-degree and 180-degree turns.

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