Yes, that’s an actual thing. In the outskirts of Chicago, you can get a country club membership at a place where the focus is on the golf carts rather than the golf. Oh, and the golf carts are race cars. And you can buy property and build your dream garage. So what would I put in mine, you ask?
2013 Ariel Atom SRA ($40k)
Jeremy Clarkson made the Ariel Atom famous in his face-bending Top Gear review. This track weapon can be purchased in street-legal spec, as well as in a color that doesn’t look like some kind of Mad Max taxicab, but what’s the fun in that? If you’re gonna get a track car, it should be a track car.
Runner-up: 2015 Ford Mustang GT custom built with a supercharger, 599HP, and track gear. It’s a Jeremy Clarkson special – I’d be yelling “MORE POWER!” as I ripped it around the track. I even dig the digital camo graphics, although not on the interior parts.
1960 Austin Mini ($14k)
They say it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is a fast car slow. Since I covered the fast car with my first choice, this one would be my slow car.
The more typical choice for a fast-slow track car would be any Mazda Miata, especially since you can race in the Spec Miata series against other owners. I’m just not that into racing other people (I’m not that kind of competitive), and more into racing myself, beating my own past times. This would give me a fun way to do that.
And it’s just adorable.
Runner-up: 2013 Morgan 3-Wheeler (or this 2012) – as with the Mini, it’s not exactly a fast car, and in fact it’s a rather terrifying car on a track. Like the Atom, it was on Top Gear too, although with much-less-impressive results – Hammond could barely keep it on the track.
Factory Five Cobra Replica ($26k)
I’m never going to own a real Cobra. It’s just not gonna happen – even if I could afford the seven-figure price tag, I wouldn’t want the pressure of owning one of Carroll Shelby’s original creations, something that I’d have to baby and keep sealed in a garage.
With a Factory Five replica, I’d have all the fun of a Cobra, but none of the pressure. And at $26k, I wouldn’t feel guilty about hooning it around a track, learning to slide it sideways, and have a genuinely good time. I wouldn’t feel guilty about setting up the suspension specifically for the purpose of drifting, something I’m sure would take one heck of a lot of work and money. (There won’t be any drifting in the Atom or the Mini.)
Runner-up: 1997 Dodge Viper GTS. Like the Cobra replica, this isn’t really a great track car if you want to learn solid cornering fundamentals – but that’s what the Atom and the Lotus are for. This 450hp brute is for sliding sideways.
2012 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon ($56k)
It’s only practical, really. When I’m at the track, I need something reliable and spacious to go fetch tires, parts, and food. The fact that it has 556 horsepower and goes 0-60 in under 4 seconds is completely irrelevant. Also, it has a 6-speed manual transmission.
When “Maximum” Bob Lutz said GM would build the CTS-V wagon, the Internet anointed him with sainthood. There’s no practical reason for this car to exist, which means I’d love to have it. And I’d definitely love to go flying around the track in it from time to time, taking Miatas by surprise. Hell, it’s probably faster around the track than the Factory Five or the Mini (but probably not the Atom.)
This choice does completely blow my budget. Ah, well. Racing’s expensive.
Runner-up: 2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10 6-speed. Truck body with a Viper V-10 engine. Perfectly practical. Sure, you can get a faster truck today with a more conventional engine, but … truck with a Viper V-10? That’s just awesome.