Spectre 341 Challenge

And launch control in a 911 Turbo is something to behold. Put your left foot on the brake, pin the throttle, and the 3.8-liter flat six revs to about 6500 rpm in anticipation of what comes next. And what comes next is bulletlike, near-Bugatti Veyron acceleration. There's just no waste in the system -- no wheel spin, no pause between shifts. When you pop your foot off that brake, it's like gravity's suddenly gone sideways.

Of course, after I leave the line with proper drama, I slow right down. Besides the cold tires, there's the fact that I don't know the road. If you've ever been to a track, you know that you don't learn it in ten laps. Maybe by twenty laps you've got the line down. After that, you can start working on trimming your times. But I won't get twenty runs up this hill, and most road courses aren't 5.2 miles long. Right now, I don't even know which way the corners go. And, unlike a modern road course, there are no cozy runoff areas here. If you make a mistake, you're either going into the mountain or off of it.

I take it easy, perhaps a six-tenths pace, trying to map the course in my mind -- this corner leads to a nice straight, but this one doubles back on itself. Don't want to get those confused. I also see that the road flattens out near the top of the run, completely changing the car's handling. Most of the way up, the car is pointed uphill, transferring weight off the front end and making the car want to understeer. Then, all of a sudden, the front end has grip and the car becomes more neutral. Or perhaps tail-happy. That Viper accident happened near the top, I believe.

I finish my run, coming across a bridge in front of the local sheriff's office (a nice reminder to slow down), and turn back onto an open public road to head back to the starting line. For all the fear and stories of mayhem, that was just really...fun. I mean, I just drove a 911 Turbo on my own private road with complete disregard for the speed limit. While cops watched. How great is that?

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