Auto enthusiasts get a dream chance in Gotham Dream Cars
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jun 09, 2014 | 2174 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
TRAVIS STEWART of Soddy-Daisy gets ready to drive a Lamborghini at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.
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Indecision plagued Mary Margaret Stamper as she waited in line with her nephew at this weekend’s Gotham Dream Cars event at the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

Should she sign up as well?

She had already determined that driving the Lamborghini around the tight course would not be as much fun as riding with one of the Gotham drivers.

As she got closer to the sign-in desk, her confidence grew.

After her nephew signed in and paid, she made her decision — she would do a ride-along in the Lamborghini.

“It was a totally awesome experience,” she said.

Stamper rode along with Cleveland’s Eric Nelson, Gotham Dream Cars general manager for Southeast operations.

“It’s great to bring my company that I’m really passionate about to my hometown, [and give them] something they may never get a chance to do,” Nelson said. “No matter how old you get you are brought back to being young when you get behind the wheel of one of these things, get it on the track and really put it through its paces.”

Stamper had watched Nelson drive for a ride-along on Friday and felt safe with the capable driver.

“I felt like I trusted him and it was something I wanted to do,” Stamper said.

Despite her trust in the driver, Stamper said she was a little nervous when she got in the car.

Afterward, she was glad she took advantage of the opportunity.

“There is no way to describe the way it felt,” Stamper said.

Stamper was just one of more than 100 men and women who waited in line Saturday for the chance to be in a Lamborghini or Ferrari for four laps around the marked course.

While some took the same option as Stamper, many of the men and women chose to drive themselves with a Gotham employee riding shotgun.

Jason Dulon of Gotham said the first lap serves as a training lap for them to give pointers and explain the course to the drivers.

“Some people get really confident really fast after one training lap, which can lead to a few nervous moments, but most people have that self-preservation gene in their body. So they don’t do anything too crazy,” Dulon said.

The track marked out with small orange cones was a little less than a half-mile round trip.

Travis Stewart of Soddy-Daisy chose to drive the Lamborghini.

“It was great. I drive cars fast anyway [racing rally cars and motorcycles], so it was just a way to get in a high-end car without having to buy one,” Stewart said.

The Ferrari was the car of choice for Sean Engdahl of Chattanooga.

“I had a lot of fun,” Engdahl said.

He said his previous experience racing helped him really enjoy the curvy course and short straightway.

As a safety precaution, drivers are told to start decelerating at a certain point on the straightway-in order to make the turn.

“My family is really into modifying and racing and stuff, but I’ve never really done anything like this, so it was fun,” said Mike Stoess of Chattanooga.

He said the most exciting part was going sideways a little on the first sharp curve.

For Stamper, it was her husband that initially brought her to the event.

“I came [Friday], my husband drove the Lamborghini. He really had a blast,” Stamper said.

After riding, he suggested Stamper take advantage of the opportunity, a chance she came to enjoy.

Stamper was also pleased that the event was able to bring people to Cleveland’s new jetport.

“My husband and I used to fly. We don’t anymore. We both got our pilot’s license, so I’ve spent a lot of time around airports,” Stamper said.

The Jetport is hoping to offer the event again in August.