Supercar Drive Day
I like a driving experience. I’ve driven around Brands Hatch and Goodwood circuits previously and so for my birthday last year, The Wife bought me a supercar racing day experience. As my birthday is in winter we decided to choose a date in late spring so that we stood a better chance of having a nice weather to enjoy the day. That day was yesterday
When I booked the date I got to choose which location to go to and as we wanted to make it into a little get-away trip (and had to be there first thing in the morning) I chose Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire. Not too far away to drive to with Little E in tow.
When we woke yesterday though, our plans of waiting until the weather was better were scuppered by the torrential rain that was coming down. This was going to make it a bit tricky!
We arrived at the circuit and after registering, had to hang around for the next briefing session. I thought this would be a detailed explanation of the circuit, lines to take, that kind of thing, but was just a chance for a bloke to tell us what cars were available, try to sell us car upgrades and tell us about photos and videos, which we would have to buy. Afterwards we were given our USB stick for the photos the cars we wanted to drive were recorded and we joined the queues to wait our turn to get out on the track.
My time spent playing Gran Turismo was about to come into practice!
First car for me was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. I had actually wanted the DB9 but it wasn’t there that day so I settled for the slightly less powerful Vantage. There was only one person in front of me in the queue so I didn’t have long to wait and soon I was taking my place in the driving seat.
There was an instructor in the car and he gave me a short briefing about how we couldn’t go flat out because it was far too wet on the track and there was too much standing water. Boo! So we would be taking wider lines than normal. He would be coaching me through the drive, giving guidance on braking points and when to accelerate out of the corners. Basically I had to listen to him.
Finally getting out on the track was good and after the first bend I was able to feel how powerful the car was even without going at full tilt. It took a couple of laps to get used to how the car handled and to also learn the circuit. Places like Brands Hatch and Silverstone appear in racing games so it’s easy to learn them. Rockingham isn’t famous enough to appear in games such as Project Cars and Gran Turismo.
4 laps later and my drive was over and we headed back into the pit lane and returned to the concourse to hand the car over to the next driver. It had been fun even if I hadn’t actually been able to break the UK motorway speed limit because of the water! But I had overtaken some people.
Getting back into the queuing area it was obvious that there would be a long wait for my next car, a Ferrari, as it was extremely popular. Not wanting to hang around too much, I decided to upgrade to the Ferrari 458 Spider for an extra £25. There was a much, much shorter queue for that one.
When I got into it, I realised I had the same instructor as in the Aston and so our briefing was a lot shorter and i was onto the track again in no time. The rain had stopped for a bit but the track was still wet and the Ferrari handled it a little better than the Vantage. It was also more powerful and a little bit twitchy in the corners was still fun to drive.
Back in the pits there was an even longer queue for the Lamborghini Gallardo, as one of the two they had there had been taken out of commission as it was broken. Aware of the fact that The Wife and Little E might be getting bored by now, we decided to upgrade to the Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 Spyder instead. And I’m glad I did! Wow, what a car!
The Huracan is four wheel drive and so was much better going around the very wet track, really sticking to the floor despite the rain. Going round I was able to overtake other cars as I was able to come inside the bends while they were running wide trying to keep to the drier bits of track. I was also able to pass cars going into the bends as I could brake that little bit later. It was an absolutely phenomenal car! Really fun to drive.
As usual, the laps came to an end far too quickly (maybe I should have upgraded to get more laps?), we pulled into the pits and I exited the car with the largest smile on my face!
Had I driven the cars I had originally wanted and not upgraded the Ferrai and Lamborghini I would have worked up the cars to what would have been the best car of the four, my final selection, the McLaren 570S.
It wan’t 4WD like the Huracan and so was really, really twitchy exiting the bends. I had to be really careful not to lose control of it, concentrating that little bit more. There was one small momentary panic as the back end wobbled a bit but I managed to correct it and we got back to the pits in one piece.
As part of my package I then had the opportunity to be driven around the circuit in an Ariel Atom by a proper racing driver. The Atom is open to the elements and so with helmet on I climbed in and was strapped down into my chair. The lap flew by in no time as the driver threw the car around the track properly going a lot faster than I had dared to. It was definitely an experience!
And then that was it. I had driven four supercars around a racetrack and then been driven properly around it. It was just a shame that the weather was so bad that I wasn’t able to get up the speed that I would have liked but, maybe next time…