Autos: It’s Snow Bull

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As I downshift into third gear and push the throttle to the floor, the 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo charges down a back road near the foot of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. Gripping the steering wheel on this late December day, I take a corner at close to 100 mph, skip across a bridge that traverses a gorge, and pass a Moose Crossing sign. Since 1849, this region, known for having some of the world’s worst winter weather, has claimed 135 lives through hypothermia, drowning, falling ice, and avalanches. The cause of death for number 136 could be test-driving a Lamborghini, and my epitaph would read, “He had it coming.”

However, although this 3,350-pound, aluminum-bodied Italian bull might not survive a collision with a 1,000-pound New England moose, it does handle as well as it accelerates, and the fog-covered roads of the White Mountains turn out to be a good venue for testing the limits of the 10-cylinder, 520 hp convertible. Now if only it would start snowing.

When Lamborghini brought its Winter Academy from Europe, where it conducted eight programs last year, to the United States, it selected what should be an ideal locale for teaching its customers how to navigate a Gallardo through the snow: The average year-round temperature on Mount Washington is about 27 degrees Fahrenheit. However, thanks to one of the warmest Decembers on record, the area’s usual snow cover is absent when Lamborghini’s first North American Winter Academy commences. Thus my driving partner and I improvise and take the Gallardo on a high-speed cruise through the mountains.

In March, weather permitting, Lamborghini fans and owners will have two opportunities to learn about understeering and oversteering, drifting and braking, on a closed, snow-covered course in New Hampshire. Lamborghini has scheduled academy sessions for March 1–3 and March 7–10. Each costs $2,500 per person and includes accommodations at the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in the town of Whitefield. Lamborghini supplies the cars. If the idea of maneuvering a Gallardo—a machine capable of reaching 196 mph and performing a zero-to-60-mph sprint in just over four seconds—or any Lamborghini through the snow seems incongruous, consider that each of the marque’s models since the 1993 Diablo has been equipped with all-wheel drive.

Toward the end of the December session, on the tarmac at the Mount Washington Regional Airport, chief instructor Giorgio Sanna leads us through a series of rally-driving techniques, a planned component of the academy regardless of the weather conditions. While we perform slide turns, practice counter-steering, and try to resist the urge to tap the brakes, Mother Nature finally cooperates a little, sending a flurry that slicks the runway. The change in weather gives us a chance to experience the bad-weather benefits of Lamborghini’s all-wheel drive, and it also marks a rare occasion when sports car drivers actually welcome the arrival of snow. 


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