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Best of 2012: Supercar, race track, no nanny: priceless!

Published December 25, 2012
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It’s not often you get to drive a supercar and it’s even more rare you get to do so on a race track. McLaren Cars did that for me last summer; tossing me the keys to an MP4 12C and turning me loose.

It’s like having a no-holds-barred night with your long-desired, drop-dead-gorgeous dream date. No chaperone and no limits!

Test drives at a track facility usually include a pro-driver “nanny” to make sure journalists don’t turn the exotic machinery into a ball of aluminum and carbon fibre.

This nanny-less test gave me a chance to drive the wonderfully sculpted and brilliantly engineered MP4 12C to its limits.

There are some extreme sports cars that prove difficult to probe their limits. They don’t communicate well with the driver or they require more brawn that brains to extract the last ounce of performance from their collective mechanicals.

There are some high-performance autos designed to appease the “Bay Street” boys by looking fast but driving docile. These cars have plenty of frustrating understeer built into their handling, so that drivers who want to be cool and fast but lack the skill can at least look the part.

The McLaren is not like any of these. It is fast and an absolute joy to drive. At the race track or on the street, the engineering that went into this super car is complete. It does everything well and makes you feel like you’re part of the performance package, not like you’re trying to tame some unruly beast.

The McLaren rep was happy to let me have my intimate time with the car, and his only complaint was I “feathered” the tread on the Pirelli P Zero tires — proof that I pushed it harder than it had ever been before.

2012 wasn’t all good news, though. The passing of one of my heroes, Carroll Shelby, was a low point. Since a wee lad, I have lusted after the Cobra. Now the creator is no longer with us. RIP Carroll.

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