Roller coasters can be exciting and all, but they corner like they’re on rails—literally. Yawn. Rides are so much better when the tires have been happily thrashed on all day and you get just a little bit of slip that’s controllable with competent hands. Oh, and they’re the best of all if they’re in McLaren’s latest hypercar.

These competent hands belonged to Tudor United SportsCar racer Jason Hart, and I got to ride shotgun in a few laps in a McLaren P1 he’d been given a few laps in at Circuit of the Americas.

{ uncontrollable giggling }

This is perhaps the most insane thing I’ve ever ridden in, and I’ve been in a nice variety of mixed nuts on track: a MX-5 Cup whose driver frequently has offs, a tiny Lotus 7-inspired kit car with a pretty big driver, drifters galore who live for killing tires, and a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup that briefly held the track record at my usual local haunt.

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Nope, this thing was nuttier. Way nuttier. Not because it felt out of control like some of the other crazy rides I’ve taken, but puzzlingly, for the exact opposite reason.

It’s clear that the car was struggling for grip on its OEM-spec Pirellis. It’d been hooned, then brought in, then hooned, then brought in, then hooned some more all day. It was at COTA. That’s what COTA is for.

Despite the tires having less than optimal grip, this car just seemed like it was always in control. It had the kind of gentle, progressive breaking-loose that made it feel like I was in a 944 or a Miata. Sure, Hart’s a great driver who does this sort of thing for a living, but he made all of the times when the wheels spun or stepped out to one side seem infinitely controllable in an unexpected way. The P1 twitched a few times in places where I’ve seen cars lose control and eat a very expensive wall, but the car quickly regained its footing and gently clawed its way back to where it needed to point.

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In all other respects, the car was even crazier than expected. There’s a bump that’s developed just after turn 11 on the back straight where the car would go light because it was going so fast. Braking zones for the big hybrid beast were miniscule. Acceleration would shame a rocketship. Oh, and Jason did a phenomenal job of using all the track that I’ll have to remember the next time I want to make rumbly noises with the Lancer over COTA’s myriad striped rumble-curbs.

This is why you should track your supercars. This right here.


Contact the author at stef.schrader@jalopnik.com.

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