Breaking the 200 MPH Speed Barrier With World Class Driving
by Alain Gayot
Some say that hitting 200 mph in an automobile is equivalent to breaking the sound barrier in an airplane. Technically, there is a 568 mph difference, and yes, 200 mph on the road is scary fast. But for [rich] adrenaline junkies, it’s guaranteed to satisfy. In addition, you are in total control of the vehicle, albeit with a racing instructor in the passenger seat. If you tried on your own, providing you had the right tool, you probably could not and would not make it.
Enter World Class Driving and their friendly and experienced instructors, and your dream comes true. Well, it could. Not that it ever was my dream to achieve that speed on the ground, but I did have the opportunity do to it and was comfortable enough to try. I thought, “What’s the big deal?” I had gone that fast flying airplanes (and even up to twice the speed of sound flying the Concorde as a passenger). Let me tell you, this is just as thrilling, but requires much more work, preparation and precise coordination.
Bringing automobiles and airplanes together once more, the event took place on the 12,500-feet-long (2.7 miles) runway 30 at the Mojave Spaceport in the Californian desert. The airport shuts down during speed runs when pilots give way to auto-pilots. There is an art to this, and a scientific foundation, but the driver, instructor and the car must become one for a chance to get past 200 MPH; and this only for a second or so, during which you are covering the entire length of a football field before you must slow down and apply heavy braking.
Although the run takes place on a straight line, you execute a 180 degree slingshot of a turn so that you are already at 100 MPH at the beginning of the runway and then on a mission to double that velocity. 120 MPH is a piece of cake, as you are in a half-million dollar car, after all—I did it in a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. 140 is easy, 160 occurs and then the hard labor starts.
There, you have to fight increased wind resistance and find the smoothest path on the runway. The car begins to shake some, wind noise increases in synch with your adrenaline level, your right foot weighs heavy, and ever so “slowly” you pass 180 mph, perhaps 190 mph and, if you are so lucky, the 200 mph barrier.
By then, the speedometer is a bit jagged, but everything outside looks linear, and the line of orange cones marking the start of the braking zone is coming at you like a meteor; scary, fun, and tres fast. You want to be sure to pass the milestone and become addicted to the speed and feel invincible by now.
With a quick glance, I see the needle on the gauge jump to 203 mph right before my trusty instructor signals that it’s time to land. Stopping the car properly in the designated distance is part of the exercise, and thanks to a training session earlier in the day, everything came to rest safely. Funny enough, the key to success—like in most sport—is to be cool and relaxed. If you try too hard, you won’t make it.
So if you have $6,000 burning a hole in your pocket and have lost trust in the NASDAQ, invest it with World Class Driving and its team. But you better hurry, because once 200 people reach the milestone, then the program ends, and about 70 speedmongers have already done it. That’s a whole lot less than the number of people who break the speed of sound routinely—although that is smaller now since the demise of the Concorde.
Read more about the World Class Driving Car Club.
Find out more about Breaking the Speed Barrier.
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