If you've got a need for speed and get all revved up by rallying, then you're going to enjoy today's post! Take a thrill ride around some of the UK's hottest race tracks with insight from Dan, my lovely husband and today's guest blogger, as he takes us through what to expect and enjoy on some of the UK's finest race days - a great activity to take part in during the coming warmer months.
So let's hear what Dan has to say ...
I’ve always enjoyed motor racing, be that watching F1 at Silverstone or visiting Le Mans for the 24 hour race. Mostly, my motor-sports enjoyment comes from the armchair with the help of Sky Sports. These events can be very expensive to attend if you want the best seats with a good view of the racing.
Good news however, as with the increase in popularity of track days, it has actually become more affordable to race a whole host of cars for a similar price as actually watching the sport live. Having now tried a few different tracks and events there are two that I’d highly recommend.
The first is a track day at Silverstone. www.silverstone.co.uk
This is a world renowned racetrack with long straights and wide sweeping corners, allowing the driver to really get through the gears and push the cars to the max. The race day I attended with my brother started off with us in a Porsche Cayman S, moving on to a Ferrari 458 and finally a Lamborghini LP640. That’s 640 BHP of Italian Raging Bull! Having been a Lamborghini fan all my life, this was expected to be the highlight – but strangely, the Ferrari was the one I enjoyed the most. It was a great combination of fun and excitement to drive that really felt like the spirit of racing. The Lamborghini was so powerful and the dashboard so futuristic I felt like I was steering the starship enterprise. Amazing power, incredible speed – but if given another lap in a car of my choice – it would be the prancing horse, not the raging bull.
It’s a great day out, but be warned, the time is limited in the cars to just a few laps – which doesn’t take long! You get faster and faster with the aid of the co-passenger instructor who coaches and guides you. This is needed to get the most out of your experience, and generally speaking they’re pushing you to go faster and brake later rather than hold you back. A cracking day, but try and find the pennies to race as many cars on the day as possible, not just the one, as it’s a long day away for a short return otherwise.
There are also passenger rides in a highly tuned Lotus Elise available at a cheaper than racing price - here they sling you round the track at incredible speeds which is great fun and a real experience in itself. If you’re able to organise, it’s definitely recommended to go in a group with some friends. It’s really fun watching your friends or colleagues race around from the viewing platforms and by comparing notes between laps it extends the whole experience making it a really good day out for everyone involved.
If you’re looking for a new driving adventure and have tried the track days before, definitely give rallying a go. I attended the Extreme Rally www.extreme-rally.co.uk at Twyford Wood in Lincolnshire although they have a few tracks around the country.
Keen to compare two of the most popular and successful rally cars of a generation – I was racing a Subaru Impreza WRX against a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Both phenomenal off-road racing cars, I was looking forward to comparing the difference – and was really surprised how much they do.
The track is effectively multi surface – concrete in places, dust and dirt in others, but also deep mud and off road in others. This gives you the real rally experience as you wheel spin on the concrete and slide through puddles looking for traction on the dirt as you move around the gears. If it’s a dry day they periodically spray parts of the track with water to keep the experience at its most intense and challenging. Switching between cars and completing a number of laps between rest stops – you are effectively driving for a couple of hours in total throughout the day and you really feel you’ve been racing. Lap times get better as you get the knack, find your confidence and the sweet spots on the course. You learn to push the car to its strengths and as these are genuine rally set-up cars used to be being driven hard and to their limits it becomes a real experience as you push yourself too.
Of the two cars, the Subaru had a shorter, more intense burst of turbo that was powerful but harder to control, whereas the Mitsubishi’s turbo kicked in sooner but was a more gradual rise. This meant I was able to keep the Evo at its peak turbo power for longer, so personally more enjoyable with quicker lap times. Strange, as like the Lamborghini, I was sure the Subaru would be my favourite. Again, it was a poster car for me in its racing blue and yellow colours! None the less, I’d happily race either again – but given the choice the Evo felt right for my driving and was the more engaging and exciting ride for me. Who knows – try them for yourself and see which you prefer.
Events such as these can also be purchased as gifts from Red Letter Days or Virgin Experience Days. As you can choose a monetary amount to give, the recipient can choose the type of racing they’d like to do, and the type of cars to race. There are so many options now, from Mercedes AMG days, Stunt Driving days to Truck days. Find what appeals to you and enjoy!
Thanks to Dan for a great round up of the best of his race day experiences. I have to admit I haven't given the driving part a go myself but I have attended a number of these events as a spectator and was also one of the unsuspecting passengers in a ride around the Silverstone track with a pro driver! All I can say (and could say then) is "aaaaaaahhhh!!" So fast, so thrilling - terrifying but awesome at the same time. One of those lets do it again and again kind of moments! Well worth a try.
So if this kind of event tickles your fancy or if you're in search of gift ideas (Fathers Day is just around the corner) then I hope that today's post has offered you a little inspiration.
Farewell for now and drive safe!