It is common knowledge I like fast cars. Silly, fast, dangerous, sporty things.
Well on Thursday I drove an Aston Martin and was a passenger in an Ariel Atom. Blokey bought me a gift experience for my birthday back in the summer but annoyingly the small print for our nearest race track was must have had a full licence for a year which meant November onwards.
I was the only woman who was driving. In the briefing it was apparent I was outnumbered about 15 to 1. No matter, I know I can drive.
“Julia?” an instructor calls. “Do you mean JuliE?” I know I should not have corrected it but it bugs me.
“Ladies first” the chap says – “After you then!” I mutter. I realise I am rather sarcastic so I attempt to shut up. I get three laps of the track in this pretty cool Aston. It’s surprisingly easy to drive and comfy. The driving seat, dashboard and interior isn’t too different to the newest 308 Peugeot. I thought it would be amazing, but it has an understated sort of beauty. It isn’t shouty, blingy and vulgar like a Lambo that’s for sure.
I sit myself down, seatbelt on, adjust my seat position and off I go. The instructor wasn’t so impressed I like to brake late, use my own racing lines not theirs, and I will corner in fourth gear. I was asked to slow down and brake early but nah! The instructors move you to one side if a faster car is behind you, like waved blue flags in F1. I gave up my line to the Lamborghini on the instructors request, but when I noticed a Ferrari try the same later no chance. I said “I hate being over taken” and I was allowed to go a bit faster. I kept in front too.
I really want to race for real, but I’ve no idea how to break in to this sport. I don’t drive like a stereotypical girl – I put my foot down, corner hard. Apparently I drive like a karter, but I think I would do well in a road car on track days. I like the sound of engines, I like tinkering in engines, and I appreciate the art in these supercars. What I do follow is the female stereotype of multitasking. All through my 3 laps the instructor and I were passionately debating rally car racing versus Formula one racing. The good, bad and flipping ugly racing. I was for F1, the pure speed – he was for the rush and adrenaline of sideways driving in rally.
On my final lap I want to stay out in this Mr Bond car, but I pretty much do as I am told and park her up. The idea of donuts crossed my mind but the “pit” space was not wide enough to pull it sideways even though I know how.
After a bit of a wait in the cold I get the real car. The Ariel Atom. Sadly no amount of begging got me in the drivers seat, it’s a passenger only car. I tried!
This is a real car. It was fast, but it wasn’t the acceleration speed I was impressed by, it was the braking speed. Speeding up felt quick but not mind blowing, slowing down though I swear we lost about 40 mph a second compared to the quoted acceleration 0-60 in under 3 seconds. The wind, the openness of it, it’s cold and feels like skydiving under braking. You need a helmet, and you need a coat.
Blokey who was watching with a DSLR camera in hand, said we overtook the Lambo and the Lambo wasn’t even slowing for us. I wish I had looked at the speedo. My guess probably up to 120 mph, the track at Great Tew is just not long enough. It was obvious this car had plenty more clout than the driver was able to use – but due to the track rather than driving skill. I can’t fault the guys ability, and it was near perfect. The backend stepped out once, but it didn’t feel likely to spin with him at the controls.
As soon as he parks it I declare “I want one!” to anyone who was listening. It’s fun, but I want to get to see it’s actual full potential. A straight drag track, I would be in petrol-head heaven.
Then back into our 308 to drive home with 30 to 50 mph limits feeling so sleepy. I encouraged Blokey to go faster but he’s a good law-abiding man and wouldn’t.
Dear Santa, I’ll sell you my soul for the Atom! Deal?