Race car driving is the latest hobby for the wealthy of Silicon Valley

For wealthy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, the best way to network isn’t playing a round of golf but racing sports cars, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo reports.

Race-car enthusiasts at big tech companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google have formed groups and rent out local tracks on the weekends. Manjoo says that several sources have asked him to join over the last few months.

The rush of racing apparently lends itself to building relationships, many of which have led to lucrative business deals.

Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo’s senior vice president for communications, told the New York Times, “you just bond instantly with everyone else who’s doing it. Whoever you’re with at the moment, your brain is so happy that it washes over you, and the happiness lends itself to anyone else who is with you.”

The racing is usually done with high-end cars — think Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, and Aston Martin, cars that cost upwards of $US50,000. Renting a car for a day, however, usually costs a few hundred dollars.

Kevin Buckler, a former professional driver who now runs the Aston Martin Racing franchise, told the New York Times that he hosts events for tech companies several times a year. Some clients are trying to attract employees or customers, while others are entrepreneurs looking to make connections with wealthy venture capitalists.

“We let you invite your customers to Laguna Seca Raceway for a morning, where they will get professional instruction driving Aston Martin race cars, and then we wrap up with a nice dinner or wine tasting,” Buckler said.

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