Sun Valley Tour de Force: Road Trip Part 1

Recently we had the privilege of participating in the Sun Valley Tour de Force, in Sun Valley, Idaho.  The SVTdF is a wonderful event which raises money for a great charity, The Hunger Coalition, and helps a large number of people in need.  The SVTdF is in its 6th year and is a three day event which runs Thursday – Saturday, capping off on Saturday with a “No Speed Limit”, closed road, runs followed by a gala dinner and charity auction that night.  We decided to take the three day event and turn it into a weeklong road trip in which we covered just over 2,000 miles in the McLaren 765LT Spider.  The following article is part I of IV and covers the first part of the road trip.  Part II will be on the Sun Valley Tour de Force, Part III is the road trip back, and Mrs. SSO will be posting Part IV on the hotels we stayed at.

Part I – Road Trip Through the Rocky Mountains

Day 1 was a plane, train, and automobile experience.  We started by flying from Boston to Denver, then took the train from Denver airport to downtown’s Union Station which conveniently located right next to the Limelight Hotel where we were staying.   The flight west on Delta went remarkably smoothly, to the extent that even the meal was edible. The train from the airport to downtown was free. The only challenge on the trip was carrying the bags.  We packed a week’s worth of cloths each into two leather road trip duffle bags the bags fit nicely into the frunk of the 765LT Spider.  These are the same bags we have been using for years on road trips as you can squish them into F40, 430 Scuderia, 675LT Spider, and 720S Spider frunks.  Normally I only have to carry them down into the garage, so weight isn’t normally an issue, this time I had to haul the two very stuffed bags around airports and train stations.  I think my arms finished the day an inch or two longer than they started. 

After dropping off our luggage at the Limelight, Mrs. SSO went shopping and I Uber’ed out to McLaren Denver to pick up our 765LT Spider.  We had shipped the 765LT Spider from Boston to Denver a few weeks before and the very helpful team at McLaren Denver had kindly stored it for us.  Picking up the 765LT Spider could not have gone more smoothly as McLaren Denver had the car parked right in front and even washed it for us.  The drive back to the Limelight hotel was a non-event and the valet allowed us to park it right by the front entrance where it attracted plenty of camera phones over the next 12 hours. 

We planned a two day drive to get from Denver to Sun Valley.  The first leg would take us from Denver to Park City, Utah and the second from Park City to Sun Valley.  The first leg was 500 miles and the second 350 miles.  The return trip would follow the same concept but use different routing. 

On Day 2, given we were still on East Coast time, we were up quite early and on the road shortly after 8AM.  The 765LT Spider frunk was stuffed to the extent that not even another toothbrush would fit.  With the car fully loaded, the top down, and iPhone connected to the last of the pre ApplePlay Infotainment systems, we were off and headed north on I 25 towards Fort Collins. 


Exiting Denver in rush hour was a fairly painless task and within about twenty minutes we had broken free of rush hour traffic.  The run up to Fort Collins is dead straight and about as uninteresting as a highway can be.  However, it is heavily policed, so I kept one eye on the speedometer as we headed north.  About 10 miles north of Fort Collins we turned off I25, topped off the tank, put the roof up as the outside temperature was now north of 90F, and then headed cross country towards RT287.  As soon as the roof was up, Mrs. SSO had the air-conditioner turned all the way down to low.  She grew up in Toronto and believes any temperature north of 70F is far too hot.  As a result, there is a greater chance of getting frostbite in one of our cars in the summer than heat stroke.  We would spend about an hour on RT 287, looping up and west into Wyoming to intersect with I80.  RT 287 is a very lightly trafficked divided highway that meanders through the foothills of the Rockies.  It’s a great place to let the McLaren 765LT Spider just run.  With long sweeping corners and numerous elevation changes, its mostly 5th and 6th gear territory with rarely a touch of the brake pedal.  As you near a bend in the road, drop a gear, balance on the throttle, and then use the throttle to pull you through the exit before changing back up a gear.  Steering inputs are minimal as the 765LT Spider is both incredible easy to place on the road, completely planted, and lets you know exactly what’s going on.  The feedback it provides is best in class while delivering a very high level of ride comfort.  For a track focused light weight supercar, the 765LT Spider is a remarkably comfortable place to be for long distance trips.


As RT 287 turned into I80, the scenery got less interesting, but the speed limit moved up to a very reasonable 80 mph.  On the day we traversed it, I80 seemed to be a major truck transit route and the semis certainly were flying down the very lightly policed interstate.  They had to be the most polite truck convoy I have ever run into as almost all moved out of our way as soon as we approached and we made great time.  Lunch was a quick stop in Rock Springs at JoGees for a lamb wrap which was excellent.  I did get a kick out of their sign which stated that there food was all prepared fresh and to order, if you were in a rush, there was a McDonald’s down the street. 


After a few more hours on I80, we were finally crossed the state line into Utah and began the climb up into Park City.  The stretch of highway from where I84 and I80 intersect to the Park City exit has to be one of the more challenging drives and reminded me of going through the Bozeman Pass on I90 in Montana.  You have major elevation changes, high speed corners, slow moving truck traffic, and striking scenery.  Its plenty to navigate but the 765LT Spider made it ridiculous easy.  With its enormous power and torque, it made uphill climbs feel like downhill sprints, while feeling like it was mounted on rails.  Never once did the back end even hint it was planning on moving regardless of the speed or tightness of the corner.  To give you an idea of the level of drama inside the car, while I was enjoying a fairly spirited drive, Mrs. SSO enjoyed a short nap.


Once off I80, the drive up to the Pendry Park City Hotel was easy and only took a few minutes.  The valet let me leave the car in front of the hotel for a couple of hours before we agreed it would be best if I drove it down and parked it in the underground valet parking garage for the evening.  We had spent a bit over 7 hours in the 765LT Spider, covered a bit over 500 miles, and yet I was neither tired nor sore.  The car rides incredibly well for a supercar and the P1 seats we spec’ed for the 765LT Spider are both very comfortable and highly supportive.

Day 3 was another early start as we were still mostly on east coast time.  After a quick breakfast, we loaded up the 765LT Spider’s frunk and headed back towards I80 and Salt Lake City.  In Salt Lake we picked up I15 and rush hour traffic which stayed with us until we cleared North Ogden.  The road then opened up, the speed limit increased back to 80 mph and the 765LT Spider started to come back alive.  I15 took us up to I84.  The first 80 mile stretch on I84 runs through both rolling countryside and some of the most lightly populated areas in the country.  Towns are miles apart and we only saw one fuel stop over the entire stretch.  Based on the pace set by the few cars around us, I would surmise that the speed limit on this stretch of I84 had been suspended.  Just north of Twin Falls, Idaho, we turned on to RT 93 which then became RT 75 going north up to Sun Valley.  This was now a two way road and we were constantly having to navigate around slower moving traffic.  Passing in the 765LT Spider is almost too easy as all it takes is a couple of downshifts followed by a bit of right foot, a quick turn of the steering wheel left, back right and the slower moving traffic is disappearing in your rear-view mirror.  Progress was rapid and the day’s 350 mile drive was over by lunchtime.  The 765LT Spiders ability to shrink distances is immense.  We arrived at the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum so far ahead of schedule that our room was not yet ready.  After unloading the bags and leaving them in storage, the 765LT Spider disappeared into the underground garage, joining a number of other McLaren’s that had all arrived for the Sun Valley Tour de Force.


At this point we had cover just over 850 miles. The McLaren 765LT Spider had performed brilliantly in a range of different driving conditions.  Despite outside temperatures reaching well into the 90sF, the cabin stayed ice cold and the water and oil gauges never moved past normal.  While we did all the highway driving with the roof up, once onto smaller roads it was roof down with the rear window up.  This provides a huge amount of buffering and even with the roof down you can still carry on a conversation.  The P1 seats are excellent and with the handling set to “comfort” and the transmission in “sport” the 765LT Spider cruises effortlessly.


Next: The Sun Valley Tour de Force

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August 2023


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One Thought on Sun Valley Tour de Force: Road Trip Part 1
    7 Aug 2023

    Makes me want to take my Mac on multi day road trip!


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