Also, everyone's staring at me. Color me self-conscious, but there aren't enough Garth Brooks songs on an iPod (oh, and I played them all-loud) to hide the fact that I ain't from around these parts. That's exactly what the police officer told me last night when he yanked a Rosco P. Coltrane U-turn at the sight of the Ferrari's New Jersey license plates and pulled me over for doing 35 mph in a 35 zone. So now I worry: Will the spectators beat me up if I'm slow? What if I get distracted by some shiny object and forget to hit the brakes at the end of the track? Oh, look, there's an RC Cola can blowing down the runway. Concentrate! Oh, the pressure!
Thankfully, the Ferrari suffers from no stage fright, so when it's time to go, the 458's computer spins the engine to four grand, dumps the clutch, and performs a flawless launch. Electronics control the wheel spin, the power output, and the gearchanges; my only job is to keep the pedal on the floor and the car pointed in a straight line.
It's amazing how a g or so of acceleration will rid your mind of anxiety. The flat-crank V-8 behind me is caterwauling with the timbre and intensity of a gaggle of chain-smoking old ladies being chased through their trailer park by a zombie.
Relax, I think to myself, this is an Italian supercar, not a creaky econobox bowingunder the force of an engine producing four times the power it was designed to. It was built to easily tolerate whatever speed it'll reach in a mile; the fireball forecast is slim, and there's practically zero chance of a smoldering connecting rod flying through the radio faceplate.
Shift after instantaneous, brutal shift, the Ferrari hurls itself down the bumpy track, and the faster it goes, the more I relax. Even though the 458 is dancing around in the strong crosswinds as it crosses the mile mark, its big carbon-ceramic brakes haul it down to highway speeds before I've covered even half of the half-mile braking zone. Bang, boom, done, it's over-and with exactly zero drama.
If you thought eleven seconds of fun was exhausting, you should try twenty-nine.