You are all probably waiting for an update regarding Éowyn’s birthday; patience my dear readers that will be early next week. This is another one-off special regarding my 40th birthday present. As you may recall for my 40th birthday my family bought me a super car experience and to help me make up my mind I even invited you all to join in the fun with a poll for you to vote for your favourite. The early leader was the Aston Martin (indeed if I were to be given one of the cars and asked which one I would like then I would choose the Aston Martin) however a late charge saw the Ariel Atom win by a nose (the final vote was actually cast on Thursday night – that’s how close it was). The Ariel Atom was my particular favourite as it is so far removed from a car that it made sense for such a special occasion.
For those of you that do not know what an Ariel Atom is, it is probably described best as the go-kart that go-karts threaten other cars with when they are being bullied. It is a road-legal, two-seater high performance sports car that is little more than an engine, chassis, wheels and a seat. It is the world’s third fastest accelerating road car after the Bugatti Veyron and the Ultima GTR, going from 0-60mph in about 2.8 seconds (new ones are apparently even quicker!). So you can see why I chose it.
The 6th Gear Experience was held at Longcross Test track which is situated between Virgina Water and Chobham, just alongside the M3 and less than a 20 minute drive (in our S-Max) from home. The first thing that struck me was how well organised the venue was, with stewards to direct you to the car park and a trucks for catering and to entice you to buy photos of the day (I did buy one, as you can see below). After registration you head to the demo car to be driven around the track (at a sedate pace) to give you a feel of the course and to explain the hazards. The main ones being the lack of any run-off (it is a test track not a racing track with all the associated safety features), the damp course, fallen leaves and conkers! After the demo lap you wait with nervous excitement for your time slot.
Although I was there for my Ariel Atom experience it was quite a quiet day and there was spare capacity to book other laps or indeed a passenger experience with a racing driver in a Radical race car (everyone was saying what an experience that was!). Lucinda was tempted but Amélie and Ezra were getting restless and so it wasn’t to be – this time!
As the Ariel Atom has no roof (or windows or sides), one had to don a crash helmet, which is plugged into a wired radio so that the instructor who sits in the passenger seat can talk to you. A quick tour of the controls (there are not a lot), a quick pose for a photo and off you go. The ride was exhilarating, I have never experienced such acceleration. The instructor keep an eye on the mirrors, so you only have to concentrate on the road ahead and apart from a couple of missed gear changes and a slight fish tail (that I got quickly under control and got a ‘well done‘ from the instructor) I was quite pleased with my laps. I even managed to overtake a Ferrari 360 and a Lamborghini Gallardo. In fairness to them they were probably on their first lap and I was on my second but as we rapidly approached I prepared to break and the instructor just said ‘You are quicker than them, overtake‘. So I did; with ease. That alone was justification for the choice of car.
At the end of the experience the instructor marks your driving (I was quite pleased with my 86% and comments: ‘Positive driving, took instruction well.‘) and you get a certificate. You are then encouraged to have a look at the photos taken of you round the track. It seemed a shame not to buy at least one, so I did.
I would never describe myself as a petrolhead but I could get used to days like that. If my lottery numbers ever do come up I would still buy the Aston Martin but you may just find me spending a fair few days at the race track hurtling around in an Atom.
Peace and Love
P.S. For those of you that are interested the results of the poll are below. The final (and winning) vote (for the Ariel Atom) was cast on 17th October, so congratulations to that person – no prize available.
Which supercar should I drive?
- Ariel Atom (42%, 22 Votes)
- Aston Martin V8 Vantage (40%, 21 Votes)
- Audi R8 (9%, 5 Votes)
- Ferrari 360 (4%, 2 Votes)
- Lamborghini Gallardo (4%, 2 Votes)
- Porsche 997 Turbo (2%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 53