The need for speed

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

The need for speed


This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Lamborghini Academy, Italy

Someone had told me that when you turn on the engine of a Lamborghini, you feel your heart roar along with it. In my case, I think it skipped a few beats. There’s something quite terrifying about being put behind the wheel of a machine that has the power to reach 350km/h… especially when you don’t even own a car yourself.

The Aventador had been sitting in the pit lane of Italy’s famous Imola racetrack since I arrived, challenging and inviting me to feel its power. The hand painted red exterior of Lamborghini’s finest design shimmers in the sun. Even motionless, it exudes speed. Streamlined and sleek, it is a car as impressive on the inside as it is beneath the bonnet (if you can call it a ‘bonnet’ when you’re talking about a $500,000 sports car). My time with it will come.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

Today is going to be no day for play. I’m not here for a thrill-seeking joyride. This is the official Lamborghini Academy and some of the world’s best drivers have been recruited to teach me and the other six participants how to handle this beast on the track. There will be speed, there will be slides, there will be corners, there will be straights and, I fear, there will be at least one change of underwear.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

Racing around Imola

I get in the first Lamborghini I’m going to try and fail the initial test. As the first lap begins I find my car motionless. No amount of pedal-pushing, wheel-turning or quiet sobbing is making it move. How could they have put me in this car on my own with so little instruction? Sure, we are going to be learning a lot once we are out on the road but perhaps it would’ve helped if I’d been told how to turn the thing on!

An instructor runs over to help – ah, the big button in the centre panel with the word ‘start’ on it. It makes sense, although I didn’t realise Lamborghini had modelled their control panel on Windows 98. Still, I’m on the move now – and with much more speed than any Microsoft could even pretend to have.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

The car drives so smoothly. It seems to glide along the track as I push down cautiously on the accelerator. And it’s responsive too. It’s as though it knows what my hands are going to do with the steering wheel before I do. I relax a bit into the seat (hitting my helmet on the low roof in the process) and start to concentrate on the track ahead.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

The Lamborghini Academy is all about personal and individual training. For our track runs we go out in groups of three cars. The first car has two instructors who are leading the way, setting the speed and demonstrating the best positions on the track. In the other two cars are two of us, the race novices. Using a radio straight into speakers in our helmets, the instructors talk us through the course, giving advice on how to take corners, when to brake, how to chicane through the chicanes. Watching in their mirrors, the instructors help correct our technique, encourage when we do well or (as is usually the case with me) point out when we make mistakes.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

“Pay attention to your braking point,” the instructor keeps telling me. I mishear it every time as ‘breaking point’, a subconscious nod to my rising stress levels. It’s actually not as hard as I imagined it to be and it feels like the car itself is helping me most of the time. But the level of concentration you need is so great that I feel constantly tense, a slight shake in my legs and sweat soaking my shirt. No wonder professional racers are all so skinny!

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

Round and round we go, the corners becoming more familiar and the straight increasingly tempting to accelerate along. We do a few laps and then rest before heading out for the next set, changing cars to try different models (and colours). Each time the speed increases. My technique also improves and it starts to feel a bit more natural… assuming skidding around corners at 200km/h is what nature intended us to be doing.

lamborghini, lamborghini academy, driving, race cars, imola, aventador

For someone like myself, a nervous driver at the best of times, the experience is emboldening. I feel myself becoming one with the Lamborghini as the day progresses. For the other drivers, most of them owners of sports cars already, it’s just as affirming. This isn’t like driving on the normal roads… even on some of the European freeways. There are only a few people who will ever have the chance to control a car at this pace on a track like Imola. As it turns out, deep down, we all have the need for speed.

Other Lamborghini Academy posts:
* High-speed driving tips from Lamborghini’s chief instructor.
Lamborghini’s students: You’ll be surprised at who actually attends the academy…

You can check out the official page for the Lamborghini Academy here

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Lamborghini and the Emilia Romagna tourism board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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  • Erin De Santiago | May 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Still a bit jealous, but so happy for you guys! It sounds like such a great experience. Great photos btw! ;)
    Erin De Santiago recently posted..No Checked Bags in Italy for #Blogville project with Emilia Romagna Tourism BoardMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      It was definitely a lot of fun. And, to be honest, not quite as scary as I thought it was going to be. Maybe you’ll get a turn next time… :)

  • Jeremy Branham | May 10, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Well at least you didn’t have any traffic to deal with! :) What an awesome experience but I would be a bundle of nerves as well. I can handle MY car OK but not so sure about a lamborghini at high speeds!
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Can your best travel experience really change your life?My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Not having traffic and other cars made it so much easier! Especially seeing as everything was on the wrong side for me. The hardest thing I find when driving on the wrong side of the road is avoiding all the other cars who are in the lanes I ‘drift’ into. (ps, I didn’t tell the Lamborghini folk that I tend to get confused about that kind of thing…) :)

  • Nina F | May 10, 2012 at 1:05 am

    What a spectacular experience. You are so lucky! I was born driving a car, and so would LOVE to be behind the wheel of a Lambo (and hopefully find the “start” button…).

    • Michael Turtle | May 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      Well I hope you get a chance one day then. I loved it and am obviously not a huge enthusiast. So I can only imagine what it would be like for a big Lamborghini fan!

  • Matthew Karsten | May 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Nice Michael! I just did this as well, but in Mexico. So much fun!

    Love the sound of that engine… :-)
    Matthew Karsten recently posted..Fresh San Blas Lobster [PHOTO]My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Awesome! The engine sound really is pretty cool… you feel it the whole way through your body!

  • Adam Tan Choon How | May 11, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Im so interest on the Laamborghini Academy driving course…
    may I know how much for the course and it take how many days ?

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  • Todd Steiner | May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, my jaw almost dropped! This is my dream car ever since I was a teenager, but I can’t afford purchasing its beauty. I guess having it will just be a dream for me.

    • Michael Turtle | May 16, 2012 at 1:18 am

      Yeah, it’s certainly not a cheap car. But, after having driven it, I can see why people are prepared to spend so much money to have one!

  • How to drive fast and safe: Driving tips from Lamborghini - Time Travel Turtle | May 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

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  • AlexBerger | May 15, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Sexy cars and a fun adventure! Not bad for a day’s work!
    AlexBerger recently posted..Dinner and a Sunset in AssisiMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 16, 2012 at 1:21 am

      I’ve certainly had worse days :)

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  • Cam | May 19, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Sweet! What an experience. I think I’d Sh*t myself…

  • Cole @ Four Jandals | May 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Okay this just reached number 2 on my list of things to try. One is being a passenger in a Formula 1 car. Hoping to do this on our trip to Rimini with the #blogville house soon!
    Cole @ Four Jandals recently posted..Visiting the Edinburgh Dungeons – Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      Only number 2? When number 1 is just being a ‘passenger’? Man, you don’t understand what it’s like to have the steering wheel of this baby in your hands!! :)

  • Steven Taylor | May 27, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Oh come on, this is too cool! Turtle in a Lamborghini….?? :P
    Steven Taylor recently posted..Lake Chaxa FlamingosMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 27, 2012 at 5:20 am

      Slow and steady wins the race… that’s what the turtle always said!

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Jun 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

    What a unique experience! Based on my driving record, I think I’d rather have someone else at the wheel :)
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #93: Attract Hummingbirds To Your GardenMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      That’s what I thought too. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic so it was pretty hard to crash into anyone else!!

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family | Jul 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Ahh… my husband would think that this is the best thing in the world! Another reason I can use to convince him we should move to Italy for a few months of living and travelling.
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Photo a Day – Day SevenMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Always glad to help. Although he might not be quite as excited when he finds out it costs 5000 euros…

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  • Cornelius Aesop | Jan 10, 2013 at 5:47 am

    I think I can best sum up my thoughts on this post in two words – Vroom Vroom.

    Yup, maybe said with a hint of jealousy but that about sums it up.
    Cornelius Aesop recently posted..Packing List for South AmericaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Ha ha. I think you’ve summed it up perfectly. And it’s ok to be jealous, I wrote it with five words in mind: na na na na na! :)

  • Tom Barrett | Jan 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    WOW. WOW. WOW. I’m very envious of you and the people that went on this experience.
    Definitely is on my bucket list for this year.
    How much did you have to dish out?
    Tom Barrett recently posted..True StoryMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Hey Tom. I was a guest of Lamborghini but it’s quite a few thousand euro for the experience. But it’s a tiny group and you really get to spend a long time on the track and in the cars (all day basically). Check out the website if you’re interested in doing it… could be fun! :)

  • Sebastian @ | Jun 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Sounds awesome. Driving 200 kph is normal for me (I live in Germany, we drive up to 275 kph) but driving this in a Lamborghini on a race circuit must be awesome :)
    Sebastian @ recently posted..Roadtrip in Deutschland: 6 Stops in 5 Tagen, Norddeutschland Entdecken!My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jun 23, 2013 at 1:11 am

      I couldn’t handle the speed! I don’t mind travelling that fast but I don’t like to be in control because I don’t trust myself :)

  • Sam @ | Dec 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I dont drive just yet (due to laziness) but this is my dream!!!
    I would be terrified of driving a car that costs the same as a house!!!

  • ukash kart | Jan 4, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Okay this just reached number 2 on my list of things to try. One is being a passenger in a Formula 1 car. Hoping to do this on our trip to Rimini with the #blogville house soon! – See more at:

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