FROM MOUNTAIN TO CIRCUIT
Mount Charleston, Clark County, Nevada
THE SNOW-CAPPED tip of Charleston Peak sits at 11,916 feet, overlooking the Spring Mountains, Clark County, and our playground for the week of All-Stars testing. Nestled in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and draped across Kyle Canyon, our test route is a chilly, high-elevation mashup of fast sweepers, winding mountain stretches, and wide-open vistas.
The 8.8-mile road itself lies at about 7,000 feet elevation, with its highest point at 8,437 feet. Nevada State Route 158, better known as Deer Creek Road, goes nowhere, really, linking two routes into the mountains northwest of Las Vegas—a winter sports hot spot—but having no real destination. At the southern end of the route, on Kyle Canyon Road, lies The Resort on Mount Charleston, our base of operations for our days on the mountain. With ample parking, easy access to our chosen strip of pavement, and warm hospitality, The Resort makes braving the 20-degree morning weather much less daunting.
You might think, rightly, that chilly temps and 7,000- footplus elevations do not lend themselves to the utmost in performance, especially for naturally aspirated sports cars and supercars. But what these adverse conditions do lend themselves to is a good dose of reality. By the time these cars land in our All-Stars test group, chances are good at least one of us has already been exposed to them on the press launch—under nearly ideal circumstances, most likely. Consider this the antidote.
But it’s not all frigid hypoxia; once the sun comes out, temps usually come up into the 50s, the pavement warms, and the fun begins in earnest.
You Too Can Experience the Roads and Racetrack Integral to Our Two-Pronged All-Stars Attack
Speedvegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
YOU MIGHT NOT know it, but there’s a racetrack just south of Las Vegas that will let you hot-lap your choice of supercar, including selections from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi, and more, and it’s literally minutes from the Strip. It’s also where Automobile has based its core operations for our All-Stars evaluation week for the past two years.
A small, technical track, Speedvegas doesn’t have a patch on legendary courses like Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, or Road America for outright driving enjoyment. But what it does have is a mix of long straightaways (2,650-foot front straight, 1,000-foot back straight), quick sweepers (including a 20-degree banked turn), and tight technical sections—an ideal balance of features for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of performance vehicles, especially when the evaluating is being done largely by experienced but by no means race-qualified drivers.
One strength you won’t find on a track map is the team at Speedvegas. From the ownership to the most recent storefront hire, the Speedvegas crew is friendly, helpful, and dedicated to providing a great experience. Our weeklong takeover of their facility—storing dozens of high-value cars alongside their own supercar fleet, roaming the track and pits for photos and video, finding brief respite from the desert wind in the loungelike lobby—is hectic, to say the least, but the Speedvegas team not only meets our every need but is also open for business as usual the whole time. They don’t miss a beat.
If you’re ever in Vegas—or if you need an excuse to get there—you, too, can drive the same track we use to evaluate our All-Stars. All you need is a valid license, a little cash, and the desire to haul ass. AM
CHANCES ARE GOOD AT LEAST ONE OF US HAS ALREADY BEEN EXPOSED TO THESE CARS ON THE PRESS LAUNCH— CONSIDER THIS THE ANTIDOTE.
Although it’s small, Speedvegas is deceptively fast, especially for this year’s crop of supercars, which can exceed 150 mph on the front straight.
HEAT TRANSFER What this photo doesn’t show is the temperature gradient and the resulting differences in grip over
the course of the day.