September 26, 2008 / 2:15 PM / 10 years ago

Making your Ferrari fantasies come true

MILLVILLE, New Jersey (Reuters Life!) - It’s the stuff of fantasy, driving a Ferrari on a private racetrack at over 130 miles per hour, and then an Aston Martin, a Mercedes AMG, a Porsche Turbo and a Lamborghini Gallardo.

A Ferrari F612 Scaglietti is displayed during the first media day of the 78th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“Drive it like you stole it,” said a representative from Supercar Life before closing the door on a $175,000 Ferrari F430, a silver beauty with a top speed near 200 miles per hour.

Supercar Life, a Massachusetts-based company that was set up in 2003, enables its mostly-male customers to drive five of the world’s fastest cars on a private racetrack.

But at $5000 the day-long fantasy doesn’t come cheap.

For the money customers get eight laps around the twisting, 2.25 mile course in five luxury cars. Four laps are in the passenger seat while a professional driver maneuvers the course, but four others are at the wheel, chasing the instructor in an identical car.

“When you drive them back-to-back it is almost like a wine tasting, you get a sample of each,” said Mark Hamilton Peters, one of the drivers.

“Don’t be shy with the pedal, it’s not your car,” he added with a smile.

The business is the brainchild of Jan Otto, a 48-year old who sold jets and high-end audiovisual equipment. In addition to New Jersey, the company also holds events in Florida, California and Los Vegas.

About 400 people have driven Otto’s cars. So far there have been no injuries or wrecks, which he attributes to technologies designed to prevent cars from sliding or spinning out.

“Ten years ago we could not have done this for reliability issues and stability issues,” he explained.

Three types of people — the wealthy, thrill seekers and those who want to drive pricey cars on a racetrack — are his typical customers. Most are men between 35 to 65 years old.

John Penido, a 55-year-old Brazilian who works in the financial industry and recently inherited some money, said driving exotic cars was something he had always wanted to do.

“It was the cars, you cannot buy these cars, so it is great to have a chance to drive them,” said Penido. “I won’t be able to enjoy this the same way when I am 78 years old.”

Two other men who said they worked on Wall Street declined to give their names, saying that it would not be good business for their clients to know they were spending thousands of dollars for a day of fun when the financial markets were reeling from the U.S. housing slump and the credit market crisis.

“For some people, right now it is not the most politically correct thing to talk about,” said Russell Datz, who does public relations work for Supercar Life.

But for most, the money seemed to be worth the experience.

“It is like skydiving or diving on the Great Barrier Reef, it is something that you might only do once, but I will remember this day forever,” said Nick Borys, a 48-year-old doctor from Columbia, Maryland, who looked as if he was on the verge of tears as he stepped out of the sumptuous interior of the Aston Martin DB9.

Reporting by Chris Reese; editing by Patricia Reaney

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