Since I was around 5 years old I've always had a love of Ferrari's. My very first recollection of a Ferrari was that old 1980's TV series Magnum PI and his 308 GTB.
(Source: Labelled for reuse Flickr)
I had never seen a car like it and I remember asking my dad if he could buy one as our next family car! I had to make do with a blue Nissan Sunny instead.
However, my love of Ferrari's never diminished and I had never given up on driving one and perhaps even owning one, someday. So when I saw an advert for a supercar driving experience not far from where I live I of course found the website to see if they had a Ferrari 308 GTB. To my slight disappointment they didn't, but they did have a 360 Modena Spider. So with credit card in hand I paid the fee and promptly booked it for the following week.
First problem was that I couldn't get the any time off work so booked to go during my lunch break. BIG mistake, if you have ever been to one of these things its literally like a cattle market, people everywhere. The queue just to sign the paperwork and show then your driving licence was half an hour alone. Undeterred, I made my way to the track to wait my turn in the Modena. As I was stood waiting, I cast my mind back to sales spiel that was hardly needed as I was buying this Ferrari experience regardless, However I remembered it said something like" Enjoy the thrill of racing with other supercars around our purpose built track". It them dawned on me that the "purpose built track" was actually an oval shaped disused airport runway that was around 50 metres long and in a supercar took all of 30 seconds to complete a lap. It was then that I realised that while signing up for this once in a lifetime experience the lady signing my forms and processing my driving licence had said that I would get 8 laps in the car. At the time 8 laps sounded perfectly reasonable, now however, that sounded like 4 minutes tops to me! Now the initial excitement was beginning to wear off.
Then it was my turn, the previous driver pulled up next to me unbuckled his harness and got out the car. He had a look that was a mixture of pure joy and equal amounts of fear! my excitement had returned. As I was about to jump into the driving seat the instructor who I had hardly noticed waved at me to sit in the passenger seat. We sat in silence for just a few seconds while he allowed me to take in the cockpit of the vehicle and just enough time for a little drool to escape from my mouth. "Ok" he said " I'm going to do a couple of laps show you how its done and then it your turn" Suddenly all I could think about was if he's doing 2 laps does that mean i'm only doing 6 now? or is that 2 with him plus my 8? while my brain was trying to process that I was aware that we'd started off and the instructor had been talking but id not taken a word in. The first words I manged to catch was foot to the floor until I say break break break. I was then aware just how quick this car was as it pinned me into the seat and the g force applied it self to my body relentlessly, then we stopped, now it really was my turn.
I clipped in my harness and pressed the engine start button. I had a quick look around and I headed onto the live track. With the press of the accelerator pedal this 400 hp took me to 100 mph in just about 6 seconds! before I was aware of the speed the instructor yelled "Break Break Break" I hit the breaks hard and the speed seemed to roll past as I turned into the first right hand corner. I was then aware that there where also other supercars on the track, Aston Martin DB9, Lamborghini Gallardo and a Mercedes SLR. Although one of the other things the instructor had said was "this is not a race don't try and race the other cars or ill end your session" I was suddenly filled with a fear of being overtaken and I couldn't let that happen. Needless to say I managed to keep them at bay and spent the next 4 or so minutes totally focused on driving this car to my limits.
At the end of my 8 laps the instructor indicated that it was time to head back to the changeover point. As I headed back I was aware of this huge smile that I had on my face although the picture above doesn't give testament to that! but I assure you i did. That smile last for a good few days as every time I remembered the acceleration my face involuntarily broke out into a grin.
So was a fool parted with his money that day? Was I happy with what I received for my money? God yes! would I do it again? at the drop of a hat. Would I recommend it to anyone? hell yes.
Moral of the story is and the lesson I learned was dream are dreams if its something you want badly enough you'll see through all the other stuff and enjoy it.