Before I outline my (awesome) experience with Virgin Experience Gifts, I'd like to give you a little bit of background about myself:


I have always been mystified by cars since I was a child. The power, the speed, the sound – experiencing it all vicariously through video games and radio controlled cars.


Then, finally, at 15 years old I had my first car. With the little money I'd saved I immediately got a custom exhaust, racing stripes, and a set of aftermarket rims on the car. It's cheesy to look back at now, but man, it was cool then.


As I got older I moved on to faster and faster cars.


Tweaking, and racing, tweaking, and racing. I drove an hour to a drag strip in New Hampshire every single Friday night for a full summer. I couldn't get enough of the G-Forces from launching a highly modified all wheel drive turbocharged car.


But I would still envy the F1 drivers on TV, and my friends who owned even faster, exotic cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis.


I was always more of a Ferrari fan. The stance, shape, and sound of the F430 has always made it one of my favorite exotics. But, I'd never experienced the exhilaration, the overall visceral experience, of driving one – let alone blasting one around an actual race track where there are no laws or speed limits…until now.


At the end of May, I was celebrating my 28th birthday with family and my girlfriend.


My girlfriend had seemed excited to give me her present for a few weeks and the curiosity was killing me. I'm not one to ever ask for anything nor would I expect anything from anyone as a present, so I had no idea what was coming because I hadn't mentioned anything.


When I opened up the beautiful blue packaging from Virgin Experience Gifts, I was shocked to see this:



It took me a second to comprehend exactly what this meant – two of my dreams were about to come true at the same time – Driving a Ferrari, and racing a car on an actual race track.


No police, no laws, and no speed limits. I could barely hold back the overwhelming emotions I felt from getting such an amazing gift.


The month between my birthday and race day seemed to crawl by, but finally, on the morning of July 7th, my family, my girlfriend and I hopped into the car to go share the experience together.


Driving into the infield at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a surreal feeling. Coming out of the tunnel and being surrounded by the grandstands and the track, you can almost hear and feel what it would be like on race day, even though it's completely silent.


Then, without warning, the apocalyptic loudness of an unidentified exotic fills the air. As you begin to look around there are flashes of yellow, red, blue…the cars blast by one by one and the next thought is “that's about to be me…”


Each member of the Exotic Driving team seemed to be hand picked not only for their knowledge of the cars and the track, but for their kindness.


Immediately upon entering the first room where our instructional video was shown, it almost felt like walking into someone's home. Everyone was smiling and joking with each other.


As our “group leader” walked us through the information of each car, the excitement started to build. The short introductory video played, we went through some questions and track info, and headed out to the cars.


Though I am no stranger to being around exotics, seeing a line of them planted on a race track still speeds up your heart rate. We went through some final preparations, got fitted for a helmet, and got acquainted with my chariot for the next 7 laps of my life.


Settling into a surprisingly comfortable combination of red suede and carbon fiber, the F430 Scuderia feels like you've just entered the cockpit of a jet fighter. Coming from my own car with red interior and paddle shifters, I felt right at home – only lower to the ground, and about to launch myself onto a race track.


My instructor and co-pilot, Joe, was fantastic.


He was familiar with the car and the racetrack to the point where it was as if he'd designed them himself. As we cruised around the track for my first lap, his voice through the intercom illustrated and detailed each cone we past and each line to take during a corner.


The turning point cone, the apex cone, when to begin braking and how hard…the experience is suitable for all skill levels, because step by step instructions are fed to you as you go along.


As each lap passed, I became more and more comfortable pushing the car harder and finding the right lines in corners.


Joe's excitement at my improvements was contagious, and gave me more confidence. Every time we reached the front stretch and I buried the pedal to the floor, the 463 horsepower sitting behind my head sent vibrations through the atmosphere.


Flying through the gears, my goal was to push the car as hard as I could before the braking cones, where we slowed down and were thrown right back into chicane corners.


It also adds a great aspect to the experience to be on the track with other drivers, especially when it becomes a game of cat and mouse. Chasing, and gaining ground on a yellow Lamborghini while behind the wheel of a red Ferrari is definitely a feeling I could get used to, and didn't want to end.


Needless to say, I had a perma-smile plastered on my face the entire rest of the day, and still do.


This experience is something anyone who has an appreciation for fine machinery, power, and speed – to have at least once in their life. One thing is also for sure, my undying motivation to open my garage every day and see one of these exotics sitting there, is renewed.


I have nothing but positive things to say about the Virgin Experience Gifts and Exotic Driving teams and experience. If you are looking to give someone else, or yourself, an experience they're never going to forget, this is the way to do it.


James M. Sama uses his blog Limitless Lifestyle, Twitter, and Facebook to spark thought and discussion. To make people think. To snap people out of their daily routines and wonder in awe at the world around them and remember that they are part of an entire human species, and we are all in this together.