Even in winter, the sun leans down hard on the California desert. I reach up and adjust the visor to shield my eyes, then return my hands to the wheel, trying not to clench too hard. I push my shoulder blades into the seatback and tense my legs in anticipation. From a two-way radio comes my instructor’s green light: “Okay, Eva – go, go, go!”
I slam on the gas pedal and my BMW M2 lunges forward and down the track, hungry for pavement. The needle climbs the arc of the speedometer, but I can’t take my eyes off the sharp bend dead ahead. Getting through it requires keeping my speed until I am almost out of track, so I wait as long as I can bear, then brake hard – a quick stomp-and-release – before steering through the curve, tires screaming.
I never thought I’d be learning to careen around a racetrack, but I’ve come to BMW Performance Driving School in Thermal, California, near Palm Springs, for a full-day intensive in driving fast cars fast. Though I love the freedom of long road trips through big, empty landscapes, I am no speed demon. In my 20 years of driving, I have just two tickets to my name. And besides, with the age of AI-powered robot cars and radically high-tech transportation almost upon us, the idea of honing my driving skills seems nostalgic and quaint – there is no room to drift in the hyperloop.