The Venues

FROM MOUNTAIN TO CIR­CUIT

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 - By NEL­SON IRESON

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.

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