3 Vacation Ideas for Car Aficionados



A new car might not be in your budget this year, but you can still satisfy your need for speed through these four-wheel vacations.

Catch the Indy 500: Tickets are still available for the largest sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. Last year, the race drew an estimated 300,000 spectators to Speedway, Ind., a town outside Indianapolis that's dominated by the 2.5-mile racetrack. This is a must-attend event for car enthusiasts, Danica Patrick fans and people who just like to party.

The speedway is large enough to hold the Roman Coliseum, Vatican City, Wimbledon Campus, Rose Bowl, Yankee Stadium and Churchill Downs. The infield alone is large enough to contain an 18-hole golf course.

If you're going for the festivities, buy a $20 ticket for the infield, which will be filled with sunburned, drunk revelers before the race reaches its midway point. Hard-core partiers should look for "the snake pit" -- just follow the scent of beer.

The infield also offers a no-alcohol viewing area for families, giving kids a place to run around while their parents watch the race.

Finding a hotel room can be more challenging than snagging a ticket to the race. The Indianapolis Convention & Visitor's Bureau has compiled a list of lodging options. If you want plusher accommodations, you might have to be creative. The Conrad Indianapolis, one of the nicest hotels in town, has no rooms available for May 23rd, but rooms may still be available starting the evening after the race. That might be enough time to recuperate.

Take a Citroën 2CV Tour in Paris: The Citroën 2CV, known as the "deux chevaux" or "two horses," is neither speedy nor luxurious. The car made its 1948 debut in France as an affordable, fuel-efficient car for country folk. Pierre Boulanger designed it to be an "umbrella on four wheels" that would replace the horse and cart.

The Deux Chevaux gained popularity in the 1960s and became an automotive icon. It even served as a getaway car for James Bond in For Your Eyes Only. The last model rolled off the assembly line 19 years ago.

Parisians still have a soft spot in their hearts for these cars, as you'll learn if you tour the city in one of the few Deux Chevaux still on the road. Tour operator 4 Roues Sous Un Parapluie, which means "four wheels under an umbrella," offers several options. You can also have the concierge at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand create a custom route based on your interests.

When you're arranging your tour, keep in mind that the Deux Chevaux can fit up to three passengers, but it's crowded with even two people. Also, this isn't a trip for anyone prone to queasiness while driving: The engine is loud and smelly, and the vintage suspension means you will rattle and shake.

Drive a Ferrari in Beverly Hills: If you crave the finer things, the Raffles L'Emeritage in Beverly Hills has you covered. If you reserve its Presidential, Governor's or Grand Lux Suites for two or more nights, you'll get free use of a luxury vehicle during your stay. Guests can choose from the Ferrari 430, Bentley GT or Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.

The 4,400-square foot Presidential suite has four bathrooms and a formal dining room, and runs $7,000 a night. The cheapest option that includes a free car is the one-bedroom Grand Lux Suite for $1,500 a night.

If you're a car nut, it might be worth the splurge.

Related Stories:

•    The Cars of 2009
•    Consumer Reports: Who Makes the Best Cars?
•    Consumer Reports: Best & Worst Used Cars

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