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Continued from here.

It's been over two months since this trip, so the details are starting to get a bit fuzzy. Let's see, we decided Saturday night that we just had to check out some of the more popular clubs but didn't take into account that everyone else would be doing the exact same thing. The ghostbar, situtated on the roof of the Palms, has a partial glass floor that offers a look down, straight down 55 floors. The bar was extremely crowded and it took quite a bit of extra cash just to get in. It was so crowded we stayed for maybe 45 minutes, but it was easily enough to get a taste. I don't think we saw any celebrities, but I doubt I'd be able to point any of them out anyway!

On Sunday (Mother's Day), we ate at the top of the Stratosphere which gave quite an extensive view of the city and surrounding nature. Looking straight down onto the strip, I noticed something just a bit out of place... a miniature racktrack! I asked around and we were told that it was a GM track for showing off some of the sports cars in their portfolio and that for just $10, you would get two laps not as just a passenger, but as the driver. Of course we had to go, so I dragged Kat the next day. I decided to drop $20 for four laps and split it up this way: laps on the performance course in a C6 Vette, a STS-V and a Solstice with one off-road lap in an H2. I almost drove the H2 off the off-road course and had the ride-along helper basically screaming at me half the time... it wasn't my fault he wasn't paying attention when I took incorrect approach angles! I'm pretty sure dude was baked and exhausted, but he sure picked up when I almost tipped over the $55k vehicle! Onto the performance course, I had to try out the new Vette first. The interior still seems cheap and the seats were definitely built for 260-pound mid-life crisis men. The models they had on the track were automatic so I can't really speak for the performance, but I definitely enjoyed the torque. The first lap was sacrificed as a get-to-know the course lap and on the second one, I only opened it up a bit more. I was afraid of pissing off the workers after what I had almost done to their H2.

Next up, the Solstice. Black, small and equipped with a manual, all right! The clutch was a bit grabbier than the one in my SVT, so I took it easy getting out to the start line, trying to figure out the engagment point. The first thing I noticed is, same HP as my SVT but so much more torque! Obviously RWD feels different from FWD as well and the sound of the engine isn't as sweet, but torque is so intoxicating. My next car will definitely require low-end torque by the bucketfull (or at least more than the sub-100 ft-lbs I get down low now). The tires on this Solstice were either junky stock tires or were trashed by previous test drivers since the car had decent straight line grip but gave up quite a bit in the corners. Again, I won't make a true performance analysis from these little test runs.

After I was done with the Solstice, I told the test driver that I'd like to check out the GTO. He said that was I good with a stick and obviously had some experience in higher-performance cars and suggested the Caddy STS-V would be a much better match. I hesitated for a moment thinking "STS-V? The old man performance car?" and then figured the GTO was so common I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to try the Caddy. He was right. 470 HP so obviously it had more raw grunt than the Vette but the chassis felt so much more tuned! It's possible they added quite a bit of stiffening over the base STS or maybe I just didn't like how the Vette was set up (har har leaf springs!). Flicking the STS-V around the bends felt so much more natural and it felt just as flat through the slalom.

On my second lap (which would be the final lap of the day), I decided it was time to open it up a bit more and push the car to maybe 8/10ths. Just after the slalom is a decreasing radius turn which I believe was placed there so people don't gas into it, causing numerous spins. Well, I figured I'd be able to keep a bit of throttle going though the turn and suddenly felt the back end get a bit light. 470 HP is a bit much for a novice to throttle steer so the back end started to snap around on me! I know that feeling (the SVT can snap oversteer pretty nicely for a FWD econobox) so I countersteered, got back on the throttle and then caught the car as it started to overcorrect. I started to apologize to the ride-along guy and he said no worry. Numerous people had started to spin and weren't able to catch it and he commented that I was one of the better drivers he had seen. I didn't take that comment as much of a complement since I was in Vegas surrounded by exhausted drunk people.

Besides good food and good driving, shopping was also on the to-do list. Long story short, the outlet malls are damn nice out there and having a Neiman Marcus within walking distance is a benefit as well. I picked up a few Creed samples with Himalaya being my favorite by far. Despite the heat, this was a good trip.