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Chris Dimmick July 2011

I have just come back from my first time at the ring and I have to say I am hooked. If it is a doubt in your mind as to whether to do it then don’t It is truly amazing.

My wife had bought a trip in a Ring taxi for my birthday last year and my brother and I (both petrolheads) thought it was about time we had a go!! My brother had been there before on Audi days but I was a virgin and was loathe to put the sticker of glory on the back of my car until I had been round in it at least once.

I followed my brother on to the circuit amongst some very well prepared Porsches and Mercedes covered in sponsorship. The circuit filters you though a barrier like in a car park. You show the machine your card and the barrier opens. Then you drive along a few hundred yards or cones before being unleashed onto the circuit.

As soon as that happened the race cars behind roared off, my brother and I were separated so I had no idea where he was. I had driven the circuit on a computer game but the reality with the bumps and gradients is so different. You become very aware that whatever you thought you knew - you didn’t.

By the second corner a local in a race Golf was facing the wrong way on the track. (this car actually spun in front of my brother!) Anyway he managed to turn his car round and while avoiding him I noticed that his front tyre was ripped from his rim. Avoiding race cars behind, the lap continued.

The gradients are amazing to say the very least and I was starting to get into a flow. However many of the straights have blind brows so you hesitate as you approach coupled with the thought of seeing a car facing the other way again. Mid-lap I decided get round as a fact find and not to worry too much about the pace.

The circuit feels never ending at times with its 120 corners then the famous Karusell corner where you launch the car into the bank and the car lunges round and launches into the next corner like a toy !!! I felt proud and elated;

1. I had finished a lap

2. It wasn’t a bad time at all about 14 mins

3. WOW WOW bloody WOW!!

I went back into the car park to find my brother to revel in the lap but he wasn’t there. Thinking I wanted to have another go I set off on my own again, this time knowing exactly what to expect.

Sometimes when my wife watches a film she wants to see it through to the end to know what is going to happen before enjoying it. I totally get that feeling I was no longer a virgin and wanted to enjoy it now. I set off more confident and more committed. The speeds went up and I found myself talking to myself like “gonna have him!!” and “cor that wasn’t bad!!!”

On the straights I was fast compared to the normal road cars like the Hondas and some Mazdas and Some BMWs but where they showed me was the knowledge of the corners. After passing a couple of cars I did feel very good, then I brushed the apex on a raised blind corner and the painted kerb stones yelled a “DONT BE TOO CONFIDENT” at me; I finished the lap in around 12 minutes. I was yelling in glory in the car as I approached the pit area. I was HOOKED !!!! Totally HOOKED !!! I saw my brother in the pit area and after a few comments about our new found Ring status.

Next point of the day was our ride in the ring Taxi. Anyway we booked it and were told that we would be off 20 minutes after the circuit was re opened. Well it would be difficult to really explain about the ring taxi until you see the video Steve took. But here goes...

The ring Taxi is a brand new BMW M3 V8, some 420BHP in a small to medium saloon car. Anyway our driver was Jurgen. (“now you da man Jurgy” as I named him, much to his amusement!) The man is a GOD!!

I have been driven around Silverstone, Brands Hatch, and Donington Park in race prepared Ferraris but all of that is nothing to the main man Jurgen. Anyway as we passed the cones the anchors went down. In all of my life I have not and probably will not experience a feeling like I was going to have. Jurgen works for BMW on chassis design.

The circuit is hired by manufacturers often (we saw Jaguar with the New XK RS on Saturday) to test the design. It is the ultimate challenge. Well if the speed down the track was impressive then the speed of the corners was just plain silly! I can’t even begin to say how quick as I was too busy hanging on. I am a very calm passenger and really do not get flustered on speed when other are driving but I felt my buttocks clenching the seat for dear life.

Adrenaline in volumes and the fear beyond fear I found myself glazed in utter horror thinking “how can you make this corner?”. His control of the car was totally precise. Funny enough Steve admitted as did I when we discussed it after that we both felt the brilliant horror of saying “OMG please slow down” but you body was trapped in silence and giggles.

He passed other cars like they were going backwards and then for the crowds on certain corners would flick the car and drive sideways. WHAT A GOD!!! When the lap finished I shook the man’s hand. A total genius with a car. Steve and I were both shaking with adrenaline like giggling kids!!

What a lap what and experience. The best experience of my life in a car by so much I have never experienced anything that close. The weather was nice and sunny at that point and the circuit opened. So we agreed to do our two more laps in a more sedate (compared to Jurgen the main man).

Now we had seen what you could do learnt little things about the corners in terms of position and then we both agreed in brilliant laps. We both did our laps one after the other. God knows what time much quicker I know but to be honest after Jurgen it did not matter anymore. The skill was a clean smooth lap all round and we both enjoyed our last two laps. We had thought about getting some more but to be honest the circuit stops a lot due to accidents so we decided to end on that high and drive home.

Last night I dreamt all night about the track and now my adrenaline has passed I am shattered but still with a smile on my face.

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