.......The need for SPEED !!!
One by one the wishes on my 'Bucket List' (things I want to do before I kick the bucket) are being ticked off. Some of them are small personal goals and some of them are BIG - and you cant get much bigger than driving an F1 car around Silverstone. And on Friday, although it wasn't exactly an F1 car, I was going to drive a Lotus Exige supercar around the south track at Silverstone. Naturally we took the film crew with us so they could record this momentous ocassion....and capture the look of sheer terror on my face I suspect !
Silverstone is huge, massive actually and much bigger than I expected. When we arrived there was also a 'Superbike' meet going on, fortunately on a different track, so there were lots of bikes whizzing around and leather clad men walking about. Everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing and I felt completely lost and out of place at first. But then I met my instructor, Rob, who was so friendly and soon put me at my ease - well a bit anyway! Whilst the crew fitted a camera into the car - aimed directly at my face whilst I was driving - I went for a briefing with Rob. This consisted of a lot of "1.8 litre supercharged thingies which make loads of brake horse power whatsits" - basically he was telling me this little car went VERY fast ! I just sat there grinning like an idiot and nodding, trying to look as if I understood.
Disappointingly I didn't get to wear a racing suit - but I did get a helmet which, after I had taken my earrings off, was surprisingly comfortable. And I was ready. Just time for a few MORE words of advice from Martin 'Lewis Hamilton' which consisted of "Put your foot down and go for it!"
Ofcourse I was going to 'go for it' - did they think I was going to waste this opportunity and tootle around at 70mph? Yes actually, as it turned out thats exactly what Rob was expecting ! Was HE in for a surprise !
I was strapped in - asked by the film crew if I had any last words ! - and we were off onto the track. I did 7 laps - with Rob at my side reminding me to brake harder for the slow corners - culminating in my blasting past a Porsche at 140mph on Hangar straight !! I dont know who was more surprised - the Porsche driver or Rob !
I can hardly find the words to describe how fantastic it was. It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life and SO addictive. The moment I stepped out of the car I wanted to get back in and do it all again. But now it was Robs turn and he announced he was going to take me round and 'scare the crap out of me!!' (Which seemed fair enough really - I think I had given him a few hairy moments)
The car took off in a cloud of smoke with its tyres squealing and we were soon flying round corners sideways and bouncing off the chicane and all the time I was whooping and laughing and loving every second. It was so exhilerating and not once was I scared, All too soon it was over and we were back in the pits (hark at me with all my technical terms now, Im becoming a right petrol head!).
Rob gave me a written appraisal of my driving - which to my delight consisted of an overall mark of 94% and the comment 'Very good job Jane - well driven' Needless to say I have been waving this in Martins face very regularly !
We returned to the supercar centre and met up with the crew who were really pleased with their afternoons filming - although I have a sneaky feeling they were disappointed not to have caught me screaming with fear ! We were then given a tour of the workshops - I had my picture taken with a superbike star, a lovely young man called Leon Camier - and then it was time to go home.
I had a brilliant day. All the staff at Silverstone were so friendly and patient - nothing was too much trouble for them. And I left with a huge sense of achievement and a wide smile on my face. In fact I had been smiling and laughing so much all day my face was aching - and I felt so well. For there is nothing like zooming round a race track at 140mph to make you feel truly alive !!