A high-speed rollercoaster with a steering wheel
It's 7 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning, as me and my work buddies arrive at John Scotti's Exotic Cars dealership in Montreal. This purveyor of supercars set up a lap day on the Sanair Raceway for their customers, and since they now sell the T-Rex, current owners of this featherweight beast were also invited. A dozen of them showed up, as well as owners of Lambos, Porsches and Lotus' that we drooled over.
We tagged along for the ride, as they planned to set me and my colleague Matt loose in a couple of factory-owned demo T-Rexes, while the gang was inside following a brief course on how to behave on the track. The plan was simple and fool-proof, right? We'd get to whip the T-Rex around a few laps, we'd catch some of this on video, and head for home right on time for lunch. Wrong.
Some... ahem... logistics problems prevented us from climbing into either one. Oh well, this sort of stuff happens, I guess. However, we rode shotgun in a couple of T-Rexes, and the person who graciously gave me a ride was aboard his 8th T-Rex, Mr. Jean De Larochelière.
So, we leave John Scotti Exotic Cars around 8 a.m., and the impressive line-up of cars heading down the highway polarized onlookers and drivers in other lanes. As we're at the back of the pack trying to keep up in a somewhat un-exotic V6 Dodge Charger, the three lanes of the highway
were merging into one because of a construction site. And then the inevitable happened; a semi in the lane beside me turned on his blinker and starting inching in my lane, forcing me to let him pass. When the three lanes re-opened 100 feet later and the semi moved over, the gang I was following was gone. As the 18-wheeler blocked my view ahead, the gang floored their machines and disappeared, they just vanished! Apart from a few who stopped for gas, I caught up most of the gang... in Sanair's parking lot.
OK, back to the track. "Which is the craziest of you two?", I asked both drivers as I was putting on my helmet. The next thing I know, I'm sliding in the passenger seat of the T-Rex that belongs to the one that acknowledged as the craziest. Um, sure. On this cold morning, though, I put on a couple of extra layers, and I needed every one of them. We blast off on the short road course, which consists of a quarter-mile straight line and a few twisties. Barrelling down the straightaway, I peek at the digital speedo and we're careening at 189 km/h as the curve is about 30 feet away and I'm convinced that we're not going to make it. Wrong again. The driver stomps on the brakes and my eyeballs almost pop out of their sockets. The braking force is nothing short of stupendous. Then, we take the curve, and this is the best part about the T-Rex.
This machine has the cornering force of a roller coaster on its rails. We'd take every corner with more aggressiveness then the last, and the T-Rex never slid. In fact, the only time I heard a tire scream in pain was when the driver mashed the throttle and the steamroller 315/35ZR17 rear tire broke loose. Of course, a flick of the steering wheel in the opposite direction, and we're back in control. Remember in the Road Runner cartoons, when Wile E. Coyote would strap himself to a rocket and light it? The rocket would blast off, leaving the coyote sitting in midair. I almost felt the same way when the T-Rex would take a corner. If I wasn't strapped tight in the sport seat, I would've done a fairly good imitation of Wile E, scraping my behind on the asphalt.