June 29, 2016

Feeling the rush

Driving Sea to Sky in luxury sports cars provides thrills

— Discover Squamish
Kurt Juson and Rachael Neiberding get set to drive. — Darren Roberts

Talk about living out your testosterone-fueled fantasies. 

As the Lamborghini accelerated onto the Sea to Sky Highway and I was pressed into the soft and yielding, luxurious leather of the Italian car’s exquisitely detailed cockpit, a giddy, child-like-but-bordering-on-maniacal laugh escaped spontaneously and uncontainable from my lips. Here I was in one of my (and any other driver’s) dream cars – a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 – slipping ferociously down a long stretch of open and curvy highway. And I still had three more dream sports cars to try before the day was over.

The bucket-list-adventure of being behind the wheel of a car as powerful and prestigious as a Lamborghini, as well as three other suped-up and specialized sports cars, is called the Sea to Sky Exotic Driving Experience.

“We started this in July 2014,” said Thom Boecker, co-owner of Scenic Rush in West Vancouver, which offers the tour. “My friend and now business partner Bryan Kohare and I came up with the idea when we were celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas, and we went on a similar experience driving a Lamborghini. We talked about it later and realized nobody was offering that kind of experience here in Vancouver, so we scouted it out and worked on our own business plan.”

Today, Scenic Rush offers two driving adventures: the Sea to Sky Experience from West Vancouver to Squamish, and a longer Whistler tour. 

Both experiences include driving the not-so-inconspicuous bright orange Lamborghini, as well as an Audi R8 4.2 FSI Quattro, Nissan GT-R and Ferrari Spider. Yes… actually driving them. 

“It’s an opportunity to drive some of the nicest exotic cars on what I would say is the most scenic highway in the world,” said Boecker. “It’s just something anyone who is a lover of exotic sports cars should experience.”

The shorter Sea to Sky tour kicks off at Scenic Rush’s offices in West Vancouver, where Boecker and our super car guide for the day, Maverick Valentine (yes, that is his name) gave us the rundown on the cars, the highway and more importantly, safety.

“Yes, we want people to enjoy these cars the way they were meant to be enjoyed, but safety is always top priority,” said Boecker. “If people are coming here just for speed, they will not have a good time. It’s about the full experience of driving and comparing these cars while on the ultimate highway.”

Unfortunately, the day I was invited on the tour also happened to be the day their Ferrari (a car I had dreamed of driving since my days watching Magnum P.I. on TV) was in the shop. So, they brought in a supercharged and Batmobile-looking black convertible Corvette as a back-up. It’s hard to complain about a First World problem like that.

After our safety and driving overview, we headed for the cars. On the tour were several other people, including Gary Herman and Jean-Paul Gentes, friends who had both done the Sea to Sky experience before.

“Our wives bought this for us as birthday presents,” explained Herman. “We do the dual driver option, where one person drives and the other is the passenger, and you switch, so you also get to spend some time enjoying the scenery and ride and get the passenger experience in these cars.”

“Yeah, you really get to feel the car as a passenger,” agreed Gentes.

Herman said the two planned on taking the tour for a third time in the future.

“This is like our golf,” he joked.

We hit the highway in the four sports cars, all following Maverick in the lead car, while Boecker followed up the rear of our cool convoy in a new Tesla car. We cruised down the highway to our first stop to switch drivers and cars. Several minutes later, an RCMP car pulled in behind us and ushered Boecker and Maverick over.

“The orange Lamborghini gets a lot of attention,” Boecker said later. “Every car on the highway could be speeding, and it will be the Lamborghini they pull over. Although since July we’ve had 500 to 600 people on our Sea to Sky experience and we’ve only been handed one ticket. And yes, it was the Lamborghini. But the guy driving it gladly took a ticket because it would have his name on it and the word ‘Lamborghini.’”

After a few words of warning about keeping our speed in check, the police officer let us go on our way.

“We have been stopped before because people call the police when they see us driving in formation, one behind the other, and they think we are racing or something,” said Boecker. “Like I said, they are attention-getting cars. But as long as we are watching our speeds and being respectful, there is never a problem.”

And Boecker’s easy-going attitude and respect is also part of the experience. Going in, I was feeling intimidated about driving such powerful and fast sports cars but soon felt more comfortable. The tours are open to people 25 and up with a full class 5 licence – no “N” drivers on the tour, and no kids in car seats.

After our encounter with police, we ended the first half of our trip at the Sea to Sky Gondola, where Maverick brought the tour up to the Summit Lodge for the view and refreshments. 

Afterwards, Boecker took us to a long and deserted stretch of road so he could demonstrate a new experience Scenic Rush would be offering in the spring that includes a Tesla demo.”

Admittedly, I hadn’t paid any real attention to the silent-running Tesla that had been our convoy’s rearguard. Boecker ushered us one by one into the car before having us buckle up tight and make sure our heads were against the backrest of the seat. He then showed us the sheer, almost unreal power of the electric Tesla car, with a “0 to 100” demo. Basically that means he floored it and we took off like a rocket sitting on another rocket, carried by Superman flying at supersonic speed… except faster.

More exhilaration and unbidden giddy laughter ensued. I’d been on rollercoasters and fun rides, but it is pretty hard to beat the thrill of those two short seconds of incredible pickup and speed. I kind of felt like Marty from the Back to The Future movies. If that Tesla had been equipped with a Flux Capacitor, I’d be in the 1950s right now. Boecker is still working out the details of the new tour, as well as a “muscle car” version of the Sea to Sky experience, but he said he expects it to be up and running by the spring.

For now, enthusiasts will have to just settle for the current offering and three-and-a-half hours of pure squealing glee on the highway.


© Copyright 2018 Discover Squamish

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