The Pure McLaren Experience Is Exactly What You Need

By Michael Satterfield

British supercar maker McLaren hosts driving events for McLaren owners at some of the most exclusive racetracks in the world, from the Belgium countryside of Spa-Francorchamps to the legendary Mount Panorama of Bathurst, and even right here in Austin Texas at Circuit of the Americas. Home of the US Formula 1 Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americas, is one of the most exciting and challenging tracks in the world and Pure McLaren allows owners to not only drive their car around a race track but gives them focused and in-car instruction with professional racing drivers so that they can better understand how to maximize the performance of their McLaren.

I was recently invited out by Pirelli to take part in a one day Pure McLaren experience, where I would be handed the controls of the track-focused 600LT, to learn more about the car, but also to get some much-needed seat time at one of my favorite tracks I have ever driven. Pirelli is the official tire supplier for McLaren, producing unique tires that are co-developed between Pirelli and McLaren to make sure the tires are the perfect fit for each car.

Upon arriving you can tell this isn’t your normal track day, as a McLaren Senna is parked out front across from a 570S GT4 car and several other supercars. The VW Jetta press car I was driving, was nice, but it did look slightly out of place next to the new Aston Martin Vantage and Ferrari 458 Pista. Walking into what is usually a garage at the track (just a week before I was touring these garages for the Formula 1 Grand Prix), you find a very well-appointed lounge and a check-in desk. I check-in and get a quick briefing on the schedule of events, my next scheduled event was lunch.

Lunch is served in a suite overlooking the track, the morning session was currently out running and the over one-million-dollar Senna which belongs to local Austinite Josh Snowhorn was being prepped to go out on the track that afternoon. Seeing a Senna in the wild is rare, but seeing one being tracked hard by its owner, would be truly amazing. After lunch, we are directed to the driver’s meeting where we are told that due to an accident earlier in the week there would be two chicanes added on the long back straight meaning I wouldn’t be getting up near the 201 mph top speed of the 600LT Coupe I would be driving.

Back downstairs the cars are lined up on pit row, 570S, 600LT, and 720S as well as a few customer-owned cars like the Senna. I meet my driving instructor, find a helmet, and head out. The 600LT Coupe, the 592 hp, paddle-shifted, rear-wheel-drive beast. The first 600LT I drove was at the Arizona Motorsports Park and it was the Spider, but I had recently driven the 600LT coupe in Dallas and loved the raw race car feel that it had, even on the street.

The first few laps were to get used to the car and track, I could put it in manual mode, but I had to keep on the traction control and driver aids. After warming up I got up to speed, hitting 145-150 mph in the straights, the chicanes cut down on the top speed we could achieve. Unlike some track days at Pure McLaren, you can pass (with permission) and soon I was getting the signal to pass some of the other cars in the group. Even though it was just an owner’s track day there is something exciting about overtaking another car, especially on a Formula 1 track.

I would have several stints behind the wheel, alternating with another driver. With each lap I was getting faster, learning the track, and being coached on the perfect line, while we weren’t allowed to keep lap times since we “weren’t racing,” I don’t have any official times, but we for sure shaved several seconds off my first few laps. After my last round of driving, I swapped seats with the pro to see how I should have been driving the car, hard and in anger, the 600LT had so much more to give, but it’s hard to get comfortable when you are racing around a track in someone else’s $240,000 car.

After wrapping up my session, a P1 GTR in James Hunt livery was pulled around for some special rides and the GT4 cars were coming out of the garages. McLaren, a maker of some of the most exclusive and expensive cars in the world, manages to have events that don’t feel pretentious and stuffy. McLaren has staffed their car company with genuine car enthusiasts who are passionate about their brand, and it shows.

If you are a McLaren owner and would like to see when the next Pure McLaren experience is happening near you visit for more information.