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.
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.
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 anything from Microsoft could even pretend to have.
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.
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.
“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!
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.
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…
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.
For a good budget option, I would suggest the Dopa Hostel near the city centre.
For an affordable hotel, Albergo Panorama has good rooms right in the town centre.
If you’re looking for an interesting design hotel, I would suggest Art Hotel Commercianti.
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.
47 thoughts on “The need for speed”
Still a bit jealous, but so happy for you guys! It sounds like such a great experience. Great photos btw! 😉
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… 🙂
Hey, this looks awesome! Its been my dream to do this since i was a child. Do you remember the cost of this?
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!
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…) 🙂
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…).
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!
Nice Michael! I just did this as well, but in Mexico. So much fun!
Love the sound of that engine… 🙂
Awesome! The engine sound really is pretty cool… you feel it the whole way through your body!
Im so interest on the Laamborghini Academy driving course…
may I know how much for the course and it take how many days ?
The academy normally goes for one and a half days – but it’s only run occasionally. This link will give you the latest info on where and when the next one will be held: http://www.lamborghini.com/en/events/
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.
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!
Sexy cars and a fun adventure! Not bad for a day’s work!
I’ve certainly had worse days 🙂
Sweet! What an experience. I think I’d Sh*t myself…
I think I came close… 🙂
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!
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!! 🙂
Oh come on, this is too cool! Turtle in a Lamborghini….?? 😛
Slow and steady wins the race… that’s what the turtle always said!
What a unique experience! Based on my driving record, I think I’d rather have someone else at the wheel 🙂
That’s what I thought too. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic so it was pretty hard to crash into anyone else!!
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.
Always glad to help. Although he might not be quite as excited when he finds out it costs 5000 euros…
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.
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! 🙂
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?
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! 🙂
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 🙂
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 🙂
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!!!
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:
That’s what I thought too. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic so it was pretty hard to crash into anyone else!!
Yes – such a good point. I had a hard enough time just keeping the car on the track. If there had been traffic, I would have been stuffed!!! 🙂
Nice story. I have never get the chance to sit on this car and It’s way too difficult me to buy car like this. Anyways enjoy your ride.
I think it’s difficult for most people to buy a car like this. That’s why this experience is a great way to try it out! 🙂
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.
I’m glad you like it! I think there’s a good reason why Lamborghini has so many fans… and I have definitely become more of one myself!
These cars are just *amazing* and *stunning*.
I’m almost broke, can’t afford something like that anytime soon.
Ha! I don’t think most people could afford a car like this. But I hope you get a chance to drive your favourite one day – that would be fun!
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…).
Wow, Lamborghini, This car is amazing. I’m a big lover of this car. And driving this car would be dream . You have shared good knowledge and Nice to read your blog.
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.
I still get in cars looking for the key ignition system and get a gentle tap on the shoulder and my lovely wife saying to me “press the button”.
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.
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.