Speeding Toward the Afterlife with Zak Bagans

Our intrepid reporter rides shotgun with the pedal-to-the-metal star of Ghost Adventures

Photo by Maryanne Bilham

Photo by Maryanne Bilham

We go from zero to heart-palpitations in 3 seconds. The thrust sends the windshield radar detector flying. The back end of Zak Bagans’ new Ferrari slides a bit, as if the whole thing is about to spin out. Right here, right now, as we approach 105 mph, Bagans looks at his steering wheel and says, “There’s still some things I need to learn. I’m not sure what some of these buttons do.”


I know he’s the star of Ghost Adventures, that he hunts demons, and that he’s got a real human skull in the dungeon of his south Las Vegas house. I saw it myself just moments ago. We had ducked into the dark behind a trick bookshelf entrance and talked about how demonic spirits run the gamut from oppressive to diabolical. Worse, once you mess with them, he told me, they stick with you. In fact eight of his previous girlfriends have been affected by proximity to his demons. One wrestled with her possessed purse, which wrestled back.

But—despite all of these warning signs—I didn’t think he had a death wish when I climbed into his car.

Now a list of panicked thoughts rushes through my head: I’m an idiot. Surely he doesn’t really want to die—he has the most-watched show on the Travel Channel! How fast do demons fly? Followed by this: Screw it, I love this Ferrari.

Bagans, 36, is decked out in his signature all-black T-shirt and pants; the interior of the 458 Italia is fine black leather. And I wore black too, because, well, when in Romeor the underworld.

We head south on Interstate 15, chit-chatting about exorcisms and horsepower. Bagans is in high spirits, and he’s got every reason to be: Ghost Adventures is in its eighth season, and its success has allowed Bagans to buy a bunch  of sports cars. His last one was a Lamborghini, and he’s got a muscled-up Dodge Charger in his driveway now.

“I’ve always loved cars,” he says, recalling when he couldn’t afford $300,000 machines like this one. “I’d still deck out my Dodge Neon.”

His first car was a 1981 two-tone Ford Fairmont. I ask if he ever tried motorcycles and dune buggies, and he says yes, he’s wrecked both and screwed up his ribs, and I wish I hadn’t asked. But cars are his thing. Cruising the highways in this rocket-fast cockpit is how he escapes the stress of ghost hunting and stardom. He’s even considered being a race-car driver. His uncle was a semipro off-road racer. Speed, he says, is in his blood.

“Danger is also in my blood,” he says. “I always take everything to the extreme.”


We coast down an old paved road in the middle of the Mojave Desert so that he can get a look at the dips and bumps before we turn around and race back up. At least I feel a little better about being on an empty road for our next real test of acceleration—fewer obstacles, fewer chances to kill or die or otherwise taunt the spirit world. A long, flat road with no traffic lies ahead. This should be easy.

Still, when he guns it, I’m truly shocked by the power of this car. It’s 570-horsepower awesome—a stomach-dropping thrill like none other, way better than any roller coaster. He paddle-shifts through raging gears, and we’re going 120 mph in less than five seconds.

But something snaps in me half a second later at about 125 mph as the road grows shorter in front of us and I don’t see how we’re going to stop this beast before launching into a desert hillside and crashing into the Great Paranormal Ever After. So, panic rising, I hit Zak Bagans, Ghost Adventurer, in the chest.

Yes. Yes I do. I deliver a swift, left-handed karate chop to his sternum. Possessed by speed? Inhabited by a peculiar spirit of survival? I can’t say for sure. Possibly. We may never know.

He slows down, and the Ferrari roars and fights against the downshift, and as quickly as we nearly died, we’re laughing the mysterious laugh of the undead. My heart is racing. It feels completely insane. And I definitely want a Ferrari.

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