by Cathy Droz
Women Only… at the Racetrack
Female automotive journalists have been complaining for years that when they go on a trip, to test the new models on a racetrack for an auto manufacturer, they hear their fellow male journalists sigh in disgust, as if they are being asked to take down the Christmas lights during a football game. I get a laugh when I look at these men, who think they are Mario Andretti or Jeff Gordon, and can barely high five each other when they return from their “racing” experience. I don’t know why they get so upset having to share the track with the ladies, as all the women I was with couldn’t wait to put their high heels to the pedal.
Knowing this, Lexus was smart and generous teaming up with a marketing group called “Heels and Wheels” and flying in the top 20 female journalists in the country to Palm Springs to participate in a fantastic 2-day learning and racing event. We were there to learn about and celebrate “The Lexus Difference.” This included the importance of women in the auto industry, and the influence of all millennial’s buying habits. I was flattered during a meeting that corporate personnel chose to emphasize parts of my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Buying a Car,” to demonstrate how important women are in the purchasing of vehicles.
We were introduced to the Lexus F Sport vehicles in no particular order (IS200t, RC200t, GS200t) and my favorite, the Lexus RC F Sport. Upon arriving at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway we were greeted by an all-female professional driver’s team. That was so impressive, there were a few men scattered in to time us and flag us over, but the women did the racing and coaching. I met top women racecar drivers in all fields of racing from stock car to drifting to ice and snow professionals. Lea was my coach and she was a stunt driver in the last “Fast and Furious” flick.
Lexus is on a brand-building mission – it’s steering away from quiet and reliable, and aiming for buyers who want something more appetizing. The Lexus RC F is certainly that: it’s a 467-hp 2-door beauty with excellent handling and free hugs in the driver’s seat. The aggressive front grille says watch out, while the sexy curves and lush interior say “hop in.”
The Lexus RC F is priced from the mid-$60,000s, and comes standard with Bluetooth; USB ports; satellite radio; automatic climate control; and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Prices climb to near $70,000 with big options like a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with Harman’s Clari-Fi sound-restoring coding; ventilated seats; blind-spot monitors; and navigation.
The eight-speed has Econ (Economy), Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes, and in Manual mode, it holds gears in second through eighth gears. I drove the track about eight times that day and each time my ability increased and my times showed it. I never felt out of control or frightened but each time came back to the finish with a renewed respect for professional and amateurs alike who do this for a living or hobby.
The Lexus RCF on the road for day to day driving might be more than I can handle, but for any long trips with open road this car handled like or better than any other “German car” in its class.
The trip opened my eyes to a few things: (1) A group of like-minded women from around the country really like cars, writing about them and helping women make good decisions in car buying. (2) Lexus listens to their customers and journalists ,and last but not least; (3) It was so nice not having all those men with testosterone and go pros stuck all over the cars… and raising their hands for Q and A to impress the others and delay us from the cocktail hour.
All in all, if you want a beautiful car you can take to the track or the theater, check out the Lexus F Sport lineup, just try to stay under the speed limit.
For more on the Lexus RC F Sport go to www.lexus.com.