As a lifelong Formula One fan and a huge car enthusiast, I've always dreamt of feeling the speed and power of a Formula One car.
I got that chance.
As a Christmas present in 2018, I was given the chance to drive a Formula Renault car for 12 laps around a track at "High Speed".
That's what the brochure said anyway.
The track at most had 4 corners and a longish straight. Easy peasy I thought. That was until I got to the track.
Counting down the days I was very nervous. Constantly reading the confirmation emails and familiarising myself with the track, with its 4 corners as well deciding the best way to the track. Just so I wasn't late.
Or got lost.
So, it was finally race day. You'll be glad to know I made it track with time to spare. maybe too much. 2 hours early. With this extra time, I decided to eye-up the competition.
A retired man called Kevin, talking to him I found out his wife kept trying to kill him with various experience days, much like this. Interestingly he wasn't fazed.
A nice guy actually.
Then I met a plumber whose name I cannot remember, so I'll call him Gary. Not much competition then. Or so I thought.
Both Kevin and "Gary" had experience with Formula ford cars, which were quite fast and not to mention on the ladder to Formula One. They had a lot more experience than me. Mine was just me driving around in my 2001 VW Polo.
After waiting for an agonising 2 hours, I was almost sat in the car, first a safety briefing from a man called Geoff. Geoff loved to joke and thought he was a hilarious comedian, joking about how the cars would blow up, which he thought was funny. Not me.
He also was being very confusing about the gear changes in the car. I've always thought gear changes were simple enough. 1-5 or 6 in a simple rhythm or left padel, right padel.
However, you motorists are going to judge me for this. The car had an up and down gearbox. (Obviously not the technical name). In which to go up a gear you go down and vice-versa. I found this very confusing.
After Geoff had explained our lives were definitely a stake, it was finally time to get suited and booted.
Although they didn't provide footwear.
The helmet was on, the pictures were taken, Time to choose my beauty. Would it be car number One - the world champion? Car number 3 - the overtake champion or just car number 2. Of course, it was car number 2.
As I approached my car with butterflies in my stomach, feeling like an absolute hero, I was told to takes my shoes off.
"Wait what?" I shouted at the Marshall, over the roar of the engines.
"Your feet are too big mate" he said.
So here I am about to become the Lewis Hamilton of my generation and I have to drive a Formula Renault car in socks, I was not expecting that.
I've been fortunate in my life, to have a lot of great memories. But sitting in my race gear, in a single seater with the smell of petrol really takes the biscuit. One of the best days of my life.
In my element, the engineer leaned into my cockpit and told me about cold tires and the cold engine and such. However, I was too busy daydreaming with Fleetwood Mac's the chain in my head to take any notice.
As the engine roared into life and after Kevin and "Gary" went out first, I was set to go, until. I stalled.
All that talk about the car being cold, I should have listened. In fact, I won't lie, I stalled twice.
But never the less after attempt number 3 I was away. Already one lap down, I set the challenge to un-lap myself and boy did I try.
However, as I mentioned earlier I did find the gearing a tad confusing, as I couldn't find 3rd - but let us ignore that. The challenge was trying to keep the cold car on the track, and with my socks on the pedals, it proved demanding.
Finally, now we know why F1 drivers wear shoes.
Socks are crap.
In fact, I was so busy concentrating on all that, I kept getting overtaken again and again. Oh, and again. But I don't think anyone can take away that inside my helmet I was beaming, singing and absolutely loving it.
Although you won't be able to hear my singing, sorry!
I was also being really ballsy down the longish straight. Actually, I've just remembered I almost hit a marshal. But let's not dwell on that.
Coming back into the pits after an exhilarating 12 laps I was on a high.My sister who was with me thought I would have been downbeat as I was overtaken 108 times. Quite the opposite.
What a day. I would recommend this to anyone if you get the chance 100% worth it.
I can also tell you my 1.0 litre VW Polo feels way slower now.
Here are a few photos!
Thanks for reading the long post and let me know of your best motor sporting experiences!