Humour me for a few moments, before we get to the nub of the article….
Imagine rocking up at Wembley, with some friends, and asking the guy on the gate – could you all have a kick-about in the stadium? You know, just because it is quite a famous stadium steeped in sport history, and you’d quite like to have a go at recreating iconic moments. Or, going to Twickenham – the hallowed turf of English rugby, for some kicking practice after watching too many Johnny Wilkinson videos on youtube. Would that work?
Can you go to the Wimbledon tennis courts that have seen some titanic famous matches over the decades, because you’re a massive tennis head? If the answer to any of these is yes then you’re obviously well connected, but for the rest of us, it’s either pretty tricky or downright impossible…
So what have we got that’s comparable to these world famous venues in the motorsport world? Quite a few actually. The greatest circuits on the planet, like Silverstone, Spa Francochamps, Imola, Brands Hatch, Nurburbring. Of course Monaco, which is a public road most of the year.
These places are evocative of decades of rich motorsport sporting history. Scenes of tragedy, controversy, euphoria; pillars that cornerstone the 100 year long history books of the sport. And they will continue to be written for probably another 100 years. We’ll have spent hours watching races throughout the decades – maybe title deciders, maybe the most controversial or incredible stories of our sport. And yet the tracks are still there, they stay in the same place, the layouts remain (largely) unchanged.
So, back to the first question,. Could you for example go to Brands Hatch and swoop down the famous Paddock Hill bend, reminded of the shot of James Hunt from the Sky Sports F1 show? After going to the British Grand Prix, could you see yourself through the historic and challenging Maggots and Beckets corners, blasting down the hangar straight? Perhaps you’ve just watched the Belgian Grand Prix, and would love to go through eau rouge to see what the fuss is all about?
Could you drive around any of the circuits we’ve just mentioned? Well here’s the gobsmacking thing – you can.
We’re exceptionally fortunate that our sport can let us do these things, and it doesn’t need you to have any connections at all. You book some track days with your own car, or some gift days in perhaps a supercar. And that brings us neatly on to one of those avenues.
Badger GP was invited down by Red Letter days to experience the Summer Speed festival at Brands Hatch, which included a stint in a Porsche 911 Turbo. Unfortunately for all concerned, the day was a sopping wet affair with accidents galore around the M25 resulting in big delays getting there.
Additionally concerning for me having been picked on to drive the porker, this was going to be the most powerful car I’d ever driven, plus being an automatic (never driven those witchcraft machines before), around a wet track. Fortunately as our resident track boffin I’m pretty familiar with Brands.
After getting there (pretty late!) the staff were great, as I took the wife and kids a very considerate lady helped us to with the pram to get over to the garages for the briefing. My instructor Tony very calmly welcomed me to the car and told me to just put my left leg out of the way and forget about it, which helped for my first time with an automatic! I drove like Miss Daisy to begin with until I started to get to grips with the car – there was certainly more grip and a lot more power than I was getting out, but the Porsche is a lovely thing to drive. It’s balanced and planted, you get a lot of confidence from the off to do things you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
All around the circuit were activities galore. A massage service for your significant other – if they like that sort of thing – to generate and cash in instant brownie points, a passenger ride on the back of a monster truck, selfie stations, not to mention the standard Brands Hatch facilities like the kids park, shops and restaurant. It’s a shame for them that the rain came so hard and constantly – hardly representative of August. But the staff were great and it seemed a well organised day. Also on track were McLaren MP4-12Cs, various exotic Ferraris and Aston Martins.
The birthday present of choice these days seems to be a Red Letter Day experience, and now having seen the petrol head version, I can whole heartedly recommend it. And if you’re a motorsports fan, their famous track package is a no-brainer, and you get two fantastic experiences in one. So why not send a subtle hint to your partner by sharing this article…