Full disclosure: I’m not a car guy.  So, while I was interested in the debut of The McLaren Experience Center at Wynn Las Vegas, Powered by O’Gara, I figured I’d go, check it out, see some cool cars, maybe sit in one, and that would be that.  What I hadn’t expected was that I’d enjoy myself so thoroughly, let alone be so exhilarated by the experience of being behind the wheel of an honest-to-goodness supercar.  But I did, and it was pretty awesome.

Located across from Allegro and Café Teatro, The McLaren Experience Center at Wynn Las Vegas, Powered by O’Gara is a boutique, no different from those of Rolex or Rene Caovilla, except instead of selling Swiss timepieces or fine Italian footwear, it’s selling British supercars.  Frankly, if I were in the business of selling anything where the entry-level product starts at around a quarter of a million dollars, there is nowhere in Las Vegas I’d be more eager to set up shop than at Wynn Las Vegas—especially with Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix coming, next month—because there’s just a much higher likelihood that someone walking by will have both the wherewithal and inclination to drop that kind of money.  Apparently, Tom O’Gara—founder of O’Gara, which since 1976 has been one of the most unique luxury dealer groups in the automotive space, with locations in Beverly Hills, La Jolla, Westlake Center, and now at Wynn Las Vegas—felt similarly, and set the wheels in motion.

But what makes this an “experience,” as opposed to say, a shop or a showroom?  Well, first of all, there’s getting behind the wheel of a McLaren and taking it for a drive.  For my test drive of the McLaren Artura—a hybrid supercar that pairs a twin-turbo V6 engine with an electric motor—I was accompanied by Ryan Lanteigne (Head of Motorsport, O’Gara Coach) a former Formula Drift racecar driver turned judge based out of the O’Gara Motorsport Facility at The Thermal Club, in Thermal, CA (about 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley), who gave me a primer on the car before having me get in the driver’s seat.  From the top floor of the Wynn parking garage, with the car in Electric mode (so as not to disturb any of the resort’s guests), we tooled down the Strip, switched over to Sport mode (while waiting to turn onto Sahara), got on the freeway, and headed north toward the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The McLaren Artura is a very fun car to drive, though it’s likely to be purchased by someone who owns another car (or five), as opposed to being someone’s only car.  That distinction, when it comes to McLaren, is reserved for the McLaren GT (which features more luxurious finishes, for people who prefer hardwood to carbon fiber, and are likely to need enough trunk space to hold their golf clubs).  While I kept my eyes on the road, Ryan was able to teach me a few things about cars, driving, engines, and McLarens in particular.  For instance, while driving up and around a cloverleaf, I found myself anticipating the usual g-force by leaning into it the curve; until I realized that I didn’t need to lean, at all.  This, Ryan informed me, was the lack of “body roll” due to the Artura’s low center of gravity, which he explained was a result of the “V” of that twin-turbo V6 engine being so wide that it's nearly horizontal, allowing for the hood (and everything else) to sit much lower.

When we got back to the roof of the Wynn parking garage, after I’d fallen out of the car (I wish I could claim that I’d alighted gracefully from the Artura, but really, I’m just happy they didn’t have to call for the jaws of life), I bid Ryan farewell and returned to The McLaren Experience.  

There, I was invited to try the racing simulator, which was a bit like playing a super hi-def version of Pole Position, with a different professional driving coach telling me what to do (things like "Speed up!" and "Hug the inside of the track!").  I was also shown the McLaren showroom configurator—the largest in the world—where prospective customers can put together their dream supercar.  And, for those McLaren fans who aren’t in the market for a sweet new ride, but are hankering for some branded merch, there is a wide selection of swag, ranging from the TUMI|McLaren collection of luggage and accessories to hats and limited-edition McLaren Las Vegas tee-shirts.

Many years ago, I heard someone say something to the effect of “You can get p*ssy at church with that car!”  And while I’m not in the market for the former and don’t tend to hang out at the latter, after driving the McLaren Artura, I completely get it.  

The McLaren Experience at Wynn Las Vegas, Powered by O'Gara
Wynn Las Vegas
Click HERE for info or to schedule an appointment

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