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.