Valentino Balboni. Lamborghini's test driver of the last 40 years, the now-retired Balboni has a special-edition Gallardo made in his honor. He'll be driving one in the Fireball Run. And I have to race him.
The 2010 Fireball Run will be the first time Balboni has participated in a multi-day road rally anywhere in the world.
OK, so it won't be true wheel-to-wheel racing, but rather time trials. One car, one track, running against the clock. But it's a contest of speed against a legend, and I'm calling that racing.
So who the heck am I? Away from my day job as editor of Motor Authority, I'm an autocrosser and crap-can road racer. In other words, from somewhere near the opposite end of the motorsports spectrum as Mr. Balboni.
Complicating the matter, while Balboni will be in a Lamborghini with which he is no doubt more than a little familiar, I'll be driving a 2011 Chevy Camaro SS. A potent, capable car in many areas, and only 125 horsepower short of the LP550-2 that bears Balboni's name. Both are rear-wheel drive, but the similarities end there. The LP550-2 scoots to 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds thanks to a low 3,035-pound curb weight. Its top speed is 199 mph. Oh, and it costs about $220,000.
Our Camaro SS, on the other hand, gets to 60 mph in the mid-4 second range in most independent tests, and hits a limited top speed of 159 mph. Even that's higher than you'll see on the tracks we'll be on. Oh, and you could also buy six Camaro SS coupes for the price of a single Balboni Gallardo. The only downside we can see as of now? The Camaro weighs in just under 3,800 pounds, about 800 pounds more than the Lamborghini.
Of course, I'm also giving up a lot of talent and experience to Balboni. I don't expect to beat him, or even to get all that close. But I'm going to try.