The need for speed

The Lamborghini Academy is for the serious car lovers… and me, it seems. Here’s what it’s like to spend a day on the track with a new Lamborghini!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

Updated:

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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!

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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 anything from Microsoft could even pretend to have.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

“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!

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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.

Test drive a Lamborghini, The Lamborghini Academy, Imola Racetrack, Italy

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:

THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN BOLOGNA

Bologna is a great place to base yourself to explore the region. Here are my tips for some of the best accommodation.

BACKPACKER

For a good budget option, I would suggest the Dopa Hostel near the city centre.

BUDGET

For an affordable hotel, Albergo Panorama has good rooms right in the town centre.

BOUTIQUE

If you’re looking for an interesting design hotel, I would suggest Art Hotel Commercianti.

LUXURY

And to splurge, the Savoia Hotel Regency is probably the best in Bologna.

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.

54 thoughts on “The need for speed”

  1. 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!

    Reply
    • 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…) 🙂

      Reply
  2. 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…).

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
    • 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! 🙂

      Reply
  4. 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:

    Reply
  5. Wow, Lamborghini, This car is amazing. I’m a big lover of this car. Seeing this car makes the mind happy. You have shared good knowledge and Nice to read your blog.

    Reply
  6. 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…).

    Reply
  7. Man, I simply love Lambos and one day I’m going to own one. So jealous you got to have a drive of a Gallardo. Did you get to drive the Aventador? That’s my true favorite! Nice feature thanks.

    Reply
  8. I used to fly airliners for a living and it always made me giggle landing in Bologna because they use a Lamborghini as the “Follow Me” vehicle for arriving aircraft. Sadly I never got to drive one.

    Reply
  9. It’s a good story Michael. I’ve never had the opportunity to ride in this vehicle, and it would be far too tough for me to own a vehicle of this caliber. In any case, have a good time on your ride.

    Reply

Leave a comment