Mark Shaefer is a Jalopnik reader with a problem. It is, however, an enviable problem, and one I hope we can all help him solve.
Shaefer, who posts as 31ModelA, recently received a supercar driving experience as a gift. He has a choice of supercars to drive at Talladega, but he can't figure out which one to choose. Maybe we can help him out. Here's the email he sent me:
Here's my conundrum: my wife bought for me and brother tickets to a supercar driving experience at Talladega's road coarse for March 23rd. I was jumping out of my socks with that news alone, but it is the second part that really has me twisted. I have to choose only one out the following lineup to drive that day:
Ferrari F430 F1
Porsche 997 (911 Turbo)
Audi R8 4.2 FSI Quattro
Mercedes SLS AMG
A bit on both of our car histories, in case it informs any advice: We both learned, at age 15, to drive on an '86 Suburban (my brother in '95 and me in '97). This was something of a rite of passage, whereas my father believed that if you could drive a Suburban on I-285 in Atlanta in 5:00 traffic at age 15, you were ready to drive whatever at age 16. We eventually ended up with a Saab 900 Turbo convertible (me) and a '97 Discovery (my brother - he still drives that to this day). I ended up with a Discovery for a few years too until, through certain events involving the demise of the Saab, I ended up with a 1931 Ford Model A Cabriolet. I drove the Ford for 2 years - all of my driving, day and night, rain and shine, you name it. (This was after my father had done the same with it for 5 years.) When I went back to school, I got an '06 Infiniti G35x (auto). I have driven the Infiniti "with spirit" on numerous occasions, and enjoy that greatly. I have explored the upper limits of its front-end grip, for whatever that's worth. (Probably not much seeing as it's, relatively, not too powerful).
The most powerful car I've ever driven (aside from some extremely large Caterpillar machinery at work) was a friend's father's Shelby Cobra. I have been assured that it is original, although I have entertained some debate contrary to that claim. Nonetheless, it was ultra light and bloated with horsepower. I only ran it in mostly a straight line, but it was a very fast straight line that should have scared me more than it did. The Model A taught me what it means to truly feel your way around a machine. While the Saab made me interested in cars, the A taught me to love them 'til my dying day. My brother, while in love with his Rover, is hopelessly inept when it comes to a manual transmission. Or power.
So, there you have it. This is who we are, and we are going to drive 500+ horsepower cars really fast and want to make the most out of our experience. I have been a reader of Jalopnik for many many years - since your launch. Before I even got the news from my wife about the tickets, I day dreamed that I would submit it to this community for help in deciding what to drive. I have a favorite, but I am keeping that to myself.
Can y'all help make the day dream come true? Go back and read through my posts - I post under the handle 31ModelA. I love cars, and I love this site. Help me out!? Thanks for your time.
First of all, Mark, you're one lucky guy, both because of your awesome wife and because of what you're about to do. Now you just have to choose a car.
Frankly, I can't decide what to tell him myself. My first inclination is that since he doesn't seem like an extremely skilled track driver yet (nothing wrong with that, of course!) he should go with the Audi R8 or the Lamborghini, since their all-wheel-drive systems may be slightly more apt to bail him out of he gets into trouble. Both of those are serious cars that shouldn't be underestimated, however.
But my gut tells me that if you're gonna do a track day, go balls to the wall and do it in a real, honest-to-God mid-engine Ferrari. #YOLO, baby. Then again, the Porsche and the SLS AMG are extremely potent as well. You can't go wrong with any of the cars on this list, except maybe the California — it's not exactly in its element here, but it's still fantastic in its own way.
Help Mark out, readers. Which one would you drive and why? Let's see if we can reach a consensus!
Photo credit Lamborghini