The only thing better than zooming around a racetrack in a Porsche 991 Carrera might just be driving those laps in a Lamborghini Superleggera. Just ask David Curry, northwest region manager for Nestlé Purina PetCare, who added a sports car driving event to his client meeting in Las Vegas in November 2011, and it went so well that he booked a similar event in June 2012 and has plans to buckle up again next year.
Curry has nine sales managers reporting to him, and for his recent Las Vegas client meetings, each manager was asked to invite a veterinarian for two-and-a-half days of continuing medical education, a stay at the Marriott Cosmopolitan, and a couple of hours of adrenaline-pumping fun behind the wheel of dream-worthy race cars. Supplying the high-speed experience is Exotics Racing, a 3-year-old company operating at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With a garage filled with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, and other glamorous cars, Exotics Racing just opened a new 1.4-mile private track in August.
Curry’s groups have been mixed—about a third are women, who Curry says are just as excited about the experience as the men. He added aelement to his recent trip, a Mini Cooper Team Challenge, where randomly paired teams of two take turns weaving Mini Coopers through a tight course of orange cones. “It was the best part of the day, anyone will tell you. Everyone was cheering each other on,” says Curry.
The group experience typically lasts two to two-and-a-half hours, says Jim Switzer, vice president of sales at Exotics Racing. It includes 30 minutes of classroom instruction, a reconnaissance trip around the track in a Porsche Cayenne driven by a racing instructor, a briefing on the specifics of each driver’s assigned sports car, and laps around track. Group packages are usually five laps (about $299 per person) or 10 laps (about $549 per person) with a change of car midway. Typically groups are fewer than 60 racers, but events of up to 500 are possible, and customization options include vinyl decals on the race cars with your company or conference logo.
From a meeting-planning perspective, Curry’s Las Vegas events have another interesting twist. He splits up the planning responsibilities among his nine sales managers, asking each to coordinate an element of the event, such as air travel, ground transportation, hotel booking, catering, education, the racing event, and so on. “The meeting planning is part of the teambuilding,” he says.