Day Trips3rd April 2014

Richard's Super Car Experience Whets my Appetite

I've always wanted to drive a Super Car and now I want to even more

by Sarah Lawrence

Do you enjoy driving? I know I do. All of my life I have wondered what it must be like to drive some of the nicest (and fastest) cars that money can buy. When a friend of mine (Richard) had a paid for opportunity to do so with a company called 6th Gear, I had to find out more.

​Booking was done easily through the 6th Gear website, and an internet search will also identify other companies that offer a similar opportunity. Through 6th Gear, there are a range of driving packages available, ranging from relatively cheap around £60, to the use of multiple cars costing hundreds. Richard had been bought a decent package so was looking forward to his first ever drive in a Ferrari, in his case, the Ferrari F458 Italia which has a top speed of over 200mph and is regarded by many as the best car to come out of the Ferrari factory for over 20 years.

With a range of tracks available, 18 years old Richard chose to make the two-hour journey to the Longcross circuit in Surrey on a Sunday. Wondering if he might be the only person having a drive, Richard arrived at the track to be greeted by big 6th Gear trucks and a line-up of 13 super cars that would have motor enthusiasts like me drooling.

Richard had booked his Ferrari drive for 1.45pm but was required to arrive 45 minutes beforehand. The registration area was well signposted and he was able to register quickly and easily. He bought extra insurance for £25 during registration for minor damage that might be caused to the Ferrari, but this was not needed as the opportunity to cause that slight damage did not really exist.

Following registration, he had a small wait before he was asked to enter the pit area where all the 6th Gear cars are parked during driver change over. Before his drive he was taken on a familiarisation lap in a 3 series BMW, something that he felt was very worthwhile before getting into his super car. “I’m glad that I was able to see the track before I got to drive the Ferrari, so that I had some idea of the track,” explained Richard. “I feel I would have wasted my first lap otherwise just gingerly driving around.”

Within minutes of finishing that chauffeured lap, he was introduced to his co-driver for the main event. “Walking towards the most beautiful red Ferrari I have ever seen, I must confess to feeling the adrenalin rise and the excitement build,” Richard told me. “Having wanted to drive a Ferrari for as long as I can remember, I could not believe that I was going to do it, and the fact that I was getting to drive before my dad made it even more special.”

Looked after by an experienced driver and with only 18 months driving experience, Richard was able to pull away smoothly in the Ferrari of his dreams, despite never having used a semi automatic transmission before. Having booked three laps of the circuit Richard was joined on the circuit by an Aston Martin, a Ferrari F430 Spider, Audi R8, Porsche, a Lamborghini and a Maclaren, making this quite a line up in the hands of amateur racing circuit drivers.

Reaching speeds well in excess of 100mph on his maiden drive, Richard found the experience exhilarating, finishing his drive with the broadest possible smile. “It was just amazing,” said a beaming Richard, “I thought I was going fast and then my guide told me there was a Porsche car in front and that was never allowed to be in front of a Ferrari, so he made me speed up to get past. It is just a huge wow from me, all I have to do now is find a way to buy my own!”

With one final bit of the package to come Richard had to wait only a few more minutes before he was invited into the passenger seat of an RS Fiesta. He could have paid £25 extra for this lap to be in a Radical racing car, but plumped for the Fiesta to see what a road car was capable of. Being driven by an experienced track driver, he was then taken on his ‘fast’ lap of the circuit, expertly driven around high-speed corners at speeds Richard did not think possible.

Returning to the paddock area less than a minute after he had left, the colour had drained from his face and he alighted the Fiesta with a huge puff of his cheeks, “That was just astonishing,”, he exclaimed, “truly amazing!”

With good quality toilets on site, a café area for food and drink, good signage throughout, and a good system of administration, the 6th Gear experience proved to be a huge success as far as Richard was concerned. At the end of his driving experience he was given a certificate and given the opportunity to buy some professionally taken photographs of him driving down the main street. Paying £35 for this package, he was also buying the rights over the photos to use as he wished.

Although Richard’s drive had been booked months in advance, there is no need to do so. 6th Gear promote each of their events on their website and there are opportunities to turn up and pay for a driving experience on the day, with a whole range of driving options available to you.

Having learned all about Richard’s experience, I think it’s time for me to have a go!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Entertainment / Day Trips

3rd April 2014