I managed to get an invite to the Street Car Racing Association of Western Australia's sponsor thank you night where they take sponsors, friends and family out to Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia for some hot laps.
Drivers for the night were: Andrew Souvertjis (Team LUXE Performance), Denver Parker (Land Whale Racing), Andy Stevens (Hyperdrive Motorsport), Chris Cheverall, Shaun Mulquiney (Racegtst R33 Skyline) and the Eurospec Automation team.
After a quick safety briefing and sign on, we all waited our turn to get into the car of whoever invited us along. When my turn came around it was probably the longest anyone has ever taken to get into a race car. We tried many different angles of entry to get in, butt first, leg first, Dukes of Hazzard style entry, eventually head first won out with my climbing in, all the way to the other site, folding legs up underneath, then putting them into the tight foot well on the passenger side, then manoeuvring back into the seated position. Looking back now, I really should have got someone to film it!
On the way to the track my driver Andrew Souvertjis went through a few things including the "If you start to feel queasy or uneasy, grab my left arm tight here and I will slow down." I wondered how long it would take for me to do that, spoiler alert, I didn't do it.
The out lap I recorded and is featured in the video below, each lap got faster and faster and my respect for what these drivers do at each race meet increased 10 fold. The forces on the body, the heat, the noise, heading through Barbagallo's famed Esses into turn 4 which has a drop off that you do not want to get into if you misstep my heart beat and anxiety levels increased just as much as my respect for the drivers.
During the 3rd lap we were waved down by Andy Stevens and were told the handbrake was still on. Now, before you think how could a race car driver not know his own handbrake was on? This was Andrew's first time driving the Team LUXE Performance R32 and the travel on the handbrake was about 1 cm. After disengaging the handbrake we went for a few cool down laps before returning to the pits. Apparently we missed a sparks and flame show down the main straight of Barbagallo Raceway from the back end of the car.
What follows is the most gloriously awkward exit of a race car NEVER recorded. After half climbing face first into Andrew's lap, I managed to manoeuvre my legs out of the passenger side door and then realised I was stuck. With onlookers threatening to get their phones out and record the exit, I yelled "Grab my legs and pull!" to which, I believe it was Brent, obliged and pulled and managed to get me out of the car.
Overall it was a fantastic evening, I'm looking forward to my next invite to jump in a car, hopefully with a slightly easier entry and exit.