I would be up for it bud.
I took out a fellow class competitor and on the first flying lap he let out a noise in the first braking zone.
Where did this noise come from, top or "bottom" pun intended lol
If anyone is still having reservations, i would recommend they give it a go.
A friend has a race prepared Mazda rx7 and asked me if I would like to do the same with him on the 15/11/2008 @ Rockingham.
Of course I said yes and met at his house at 5 in the morning and 3 hours later we turned up at the track.
This thing has 420 bhp Tein shocks, roll cage, fully adjustable suspension, mahoosive wheels, 5 point harness's the list goes on.
The cars power comes in at 2k rpm and will go all the way to 9k easily, but to save the engine he has set the limiter to 7-8k rpm, as he doesn’t see the point in going higher as when changing up a gear, you are still in the power range.
The day was organised by Lotus and the track was shared by 3 groups, Lotus, Mazda and Toyota. There were of course people in other makes of cars and the majority of them were just road going cars, like scoobies, mx5’s, civic’s, mr2’s.
The drivers signed in then the passengers, who didn’t have to pay and then we were all given a lecture on driver etiquette.
They made it quite clear that is was not a race but a track day and no timing equipment was allowed, no over taking was to be done unless the driver in front has indicated to pull over and signalled for you to overtake and you weren’t allowed to over take around the majority of corners as it was deemed unsafe. You were told about different grip levels, allowing tyres to warm up ect ect.
I was thinking, this is going to be boring, how wrong was I!
The first group went out, the Lotus’s and 1 of the instructors leads the way in a Lotus Elise to show the novices the racing line and over 3 – 6 laps increases the speed, which isn’t slow to start with and everyone follows the car in front, hopefully keeping to the same line as the instructor. After the instructor has pulled off, everyone gets about 3 laps and then are flagged in, this process repeats for the Toyota’s and Then us, the Mazda’s, each session lasts 20 mins.
When I strapped myself in you are aware of how stiff the car is, how restrictive the belts are and how cumbersome the helmet is.
We queued up and followed everyone onto the track and the pace picked up quite quickly. After about 4 laps the instructor peeled off and holly crap batman!
Cars were indicating and letting us past and were being picked off like they weren’t even there. There is no room to put your arms / hands anywhere, due to the roll cage, so I was adopting a praying position with my hands in my lap, I was nearly praying as I was astounded by the acceleration and then the cornering grip and if I were praying I think my prayers would have been filtered out because I was screaming, holly ****, this thing is ****ing quick, holly **** this thing handles round the corners lol.
Now I have been in some, what I thought were fast cars in my youth, driven by, what I thought were good drivers, down back lanes like a loon and I would always be laughing and asking them to go faster, much to their astonishment. Then I bought an Alfa lol.
However, nothing prepared me for this and for this reason alone I would seriously recommend that if anyone is offered this experience, they take it up! Prior to this I was taken out in Rusper Alfa’s twin engined 3ltr 12v v6 164 down the back lanes, but nothing compares to being on a track.
After about 4 laps my mate slowed down the pace, to allow things to cool down before we pitted and we watched other cars pass us clearly on the limit hanging on by a thread and having a whale of a time.
When we came off the track and parked up and I removed the 5 point harness, my helmet and exited the car, I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and thanked my mate profusely for the experience. He said that was just the warm up part, I had new brakes fitted yesterday and they have yet to bed in. Again in my head I was thinking, holly crap batman.
We got chatting to some of the other rx7 owners who asked what had been done to the car ect ect and some of them knew him through the car club they are in, everyone was really chatty and friendly.
Another friend of mine asked me if I would like to go to Goodwood last year to watch him do a sprint day in his BMW E30 M3 which is where I was introduced to the Mazda owner, they all know each other from a car club. The Mazda owner does quite a lot of racing, which was quite evident from him getting the fastest lap time whilst at Goodwood and is known as a good driver.
Last year was full of new car related experiences, I got to hear and see my first f1 car earlier again at Goodwood, wow what a noise and the smell, don’t think I will ever forget that.
Anyway, I digress, we all watched the other 2 sessions and then we were off again.
This time he opened the taps fully and holly crap batman, but he was still easy on the brakes, which I don’t think he needed as this thing went round the corners like they were straight. The grip level in the corners was hard to comprehend, how something can go this fast without coming off the track was beyond me, it was then I understood how racing drivers can get seriously injured because if you came off and hit something at that speed it would hurt. Those thoughts didn’t last long as you get used to the grip level, amazing as it is and after a while, every now and then you wonder if it will hold. A couple of times we hit the rumble strips, wow, they are like hitting several potholes and wake you up big time!
We slowed down for a few laps and let the brakes cool down and watched other cars pass us, there was this 1 car, I don’t know what it was but my mate wanted to have a play, so after he passed us we kept up with him. This was the fun part, my mate said it is fun pushing people and seeing if they can stay on the track. This thing was damn quick but a little frisky in the corners and we followed if for a few laps passing everything else until, yup he overcooked it into a corner, came off track sideways and did his best to keep it under control but eventually ended up spinning a couple of times, watching him saw at the steering wheel and the expression on his face, all in slow motion I might add was priceless.
After this session was over we had a chat with the owner of the car that just came off and he and his mate built it and it was a work in progress, he was trying to convince his mate to take it out on the next session but he was too scared. They were changing the setup as it was a bit of a handful.
We all had something to eat and watched the other sessions and it was now time for lunch.
The track was closed and the instructor was taking people out in his Elise, after that there was a film crew there filming drifting and a few people had a go.
After lunch was over and the first 2 sessions finished it was back to the Mazda’s.
Off we went but this time the brakes were working properly. Another new experience, holly crap batman, I can’t explain the feeling of the stopping power but will add that if I were driving, I would have been knackered by now.
Again we were passing everything and caught up with another rx7 driver and started to play, he indicated and gave us the signal to pass but my mate indicated for him to keep in front. We followed him for a couple of laps and yup, he lost it on the exit of a corner, we were expecting him to spin but he kept it straight, kept off the brakes and slowly came off the grass back onto the track
On the last corner before the start finish straight we were told in the driver briefing that drifting would be allowed. A few times on exiting this corner the back end would step out and I did enjoy that feeling immensely. However this was not allowed after the guy we just played with over steered and crashed into the alcove, later that day, which we watched him do from the viewing area.
I did feel sorry for him as he drove his car there and it was now in a rather messed up state, but that’s the risk you take, my mate trailered his car there and as this guy was unable to get his car home, my mate very kindly offered to allow this guy to put his car on his trailer whilst we followed him home in the race car, with road tyres on I might add, as it was now raining.
After we got home I thanked my mate and said when are you doing it again, well guys, the time is now very close and I can’t wait.
So go out and enjoy yourself you will not regret it and will remember it for ever.