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Exotic Rides Cancun: Racing a Ferrari F430

The 483-horsepower Ferrari F430

The 483-horsepower Ferrari F430

Coming out of the final turn, I slam the gas pedal until it's flush against the floor.

The 483-horsepower Ferrari F430 responds immediately, and I savor the smooth acceleration of a car designed to go from 0-60 MPH in 4.0 seconds.

But the first turn comes up fast, a yellow cone warning me to slow down before we enter a series of twists and turns on the back side of the track.

My confidence is high as I navigate the curves, thrilled to be at Exotic Rides Cancun a year after they first invited me to visit.

Entrance to Exotic Rides Cancun

Entrance to Exotic Rides Cancun

I'd arrived at the facility a half hour earlier, at the scheduled time of 12 PM, and was quickly greeted by cool air conditioning, and friendly staff.

The main reception area was bright and spacious, with plenty of seating. Floor-to-ceiling windows offered a direct view to the track.

As I was filling out paperwork, my contact, Fernando, greeted me with a smile and introduction. He tells me we'll catch up after my driving experience.

I join a 50+ year old Canadian woman, and a couple, in a small room with the driving instructor.

We watch a short safety video specific to drivers of the Ferrari F430, and then walk out to the track.

Behind the wheel

Behind the wheel

There's an outdoor bar set up with umbrellas, allowing spectators to watch their friends and loved ones.

First, we all take turns going around the track twice as passengers in a black Camaro SS.

These “discovery” laps help ensure we have at least a hint of how the track is laid out before we get behind the wheel.

Along the way, our instructor points out all the color-coded cones, which signal where to aim the car, and where to start braking before entering the turns.

These points of reference help ensure we navigate the track in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Another driver takes laps around the race track

Another driver takes laps around the race track

The driving instructor asks for the first person, and I don't hesitate to step forward. One of the staff hands me a helmet.

I'm not totally unfamiliar with this car, having driven the convertible version, the Ferrari F430 Spider, in the French Riviera last year.

But driving on public roads ensured my anxiety levels were high, and I had to constantly use the paddle shifting to change gears.

At the track, we were going to drive the F430 in automatic, no shifting required.

The ease of driving these exotic cars in automatic ensures everyone from teens to senior citizens can get behind the wheel, and have a blast.

Drivers hit the gas coming out of this turn, as it leads into the track's longest straightaway

Drivers hit the gas coming out of this turn, as it leads into the track's longest straightaway

Driving on the track is a very different experience from regular roads. I have nothing to worry about except trying to go as fast as possible on the straightaway.

Despite the lack of traffic, I drive cautiously my first lap.

Realizing I only have two laps left, and thus two chances to hit the gas hard, I floor it coming around the last turn, which leads into the straightaway.

It feels like we're going fast, but the instructor explicitly told us not to look at the speedometer, so I can't say for sure.

I resist the urge to ask him how fast I'm going, remembering that all three laps were being recorded on video.

After an exhilarating three and a half minutes (about one minute and thirty seconds per lap), I pull off the track, and exit the car.

The male customer puts on his helmet, and pauses for a photo by his girlfriend or spouse, before getting in the car. He's bought five laps, and makes full use of them.

The third and final customer is the older woman from Toronto, Canada. The track day in the Ferrari is a birthday gift from her husband.

Her excitement had been tangible from the moment we met, and now it was her turn to don the helmet, and drive one of the world's finest cars.

I watched her take her laps. The roar of the engine gives no clues to the woman old enough to be my mother inside.

The 563-horsepower Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

The 563-horsepower Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

Once everyone's done, I go inside to check out the video footage. It shows not only the driver's view from the car, but the lap times and car speed.

I patiently await my top speed. 80 MPH. I was hoping to break 100, but it's a short straightaway, and I probably wasn't hitting the gas earlier enough to take full advantage of it.

I buy a single print (the one of me in the driver's seat) for $25, but skip the video.

Fernando returns, and I share my experience on the track. He then offers to take me through their garage to see the other cars which give Exotic Cars Cancun its name.

Tops on the list is a black Lamborghini Murcielago, which can go from 0-60 MPH in 3.3 seconds.

It's a beautiful car, and I walk around it, fantasizing about a drive one day.

A yellow Lamborghini Gallardo

A yellow Lamborghini Gallardo

The yellow 500-horsepower Lamborghini Gallardo with black rims is a beauty too.

This Ferrari 458 Italia is the latest arrival in the Exotic Rides fleet. It's the latest model, replacing the F430.

This Ferrari 458 Italia is the latest arrival in the Exotic Rides fleet. It's the latest model, replacing the F430.

On the other side of it is the newest addition to the garage, a Ferrari 458 Italia, which had just arrived, and was still being readied for customers, and the track.

Fernando explained the maintenance required for these kinds of cars. Every month, mechanics fly in from Mexico City or the USA to service them.

I linger, enjoying their company.

In addition to driving the cars on the track, it's also possible for customers to go on road trips to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and even as far as the ruins of Chichen Itza, a 6-7 hour drive round trip.

The road trip option, if you get a few cars, is an excellent bachelor party style adventure.

During the high season, Fernando tells me they can have over 100 customers a day at the track.

When I ask him about the typical customer, he says it's mostly normal people.

Occasionally, billionaires will stop by for a drive, like the son of Carlos Slim, a Mexican businessman who's currently the wealthiest person in the world.

Sir Richard Branson visited too, choosing to race the Go Karts instead of the cars.

The Pit Stop restaurant overlooks the race track

The Pit Stop restaurant overlooks the race track

Inside Pit Stop, the on site restaurant, pictures hang on the wall of other notable patrons, including world-famous Spanish chef Ferran Adria.

The restaurant overlooks the outdoor bar, and offers an opportunity for drivers to extend their time at the track, soaking up the atmosphere.

The menu features a mix of traditional Mexican food, and Western favorites.

In fact, I decide I'm not ready to leave, and sit down for a juicy cheeseburger, a brownie sundae, and a view of the next driver preparing to take his laps in the F430.


My driving experience was compliments of Exotic Rides Cancun.

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