Red Balloon have been providing me with some amazing experiences for me to blog about – experiences that I choose, based on what I’m interested in and what (I believe) my readers would possibly like to try. I’ve been flying, paddling, ballooning, cooking, dining, etc.
One of their top selling experiences, happens to be V8 Car Racing – where you get to drive a super-car around a race track at mind numbing speeds.
Red Balloon have suggested (several times) that I could give the experience a go, but each time I would decline politely. Because I have absolutely NO interest in driving a car very fast, in circles. I’d be bored, dizzy, beyond stressed, and terrified! Why would I do that? Especially when I have the option of choosing a day spa experience!
However, MY HUSBAND loves cars and loves the thrill of speed. He’s a totally unique man with the heart of a typical little boy :) Haha aren’t they all?
So when Red Balloon asked me yet again if I’d like to drive a race car…. this time I proposed that maybe my husband could do the drive? And I can capture the experience for my blog? And who knows, maybe my readers might like to buy this experience for their husbands, or hey, even try it out themselves? They said yes and it was a done deal.
Phew. I got outta that one!
You should have seen the smile on his face when I told him about it. It was his birthday present and his anniversary present all rolled into one :)
Anyway, as we drove to the event, he was acting all cool, because of course, he is much too grown-up to be excited like, say an 8 year old boy.
He was matter-of-factly explaining to me car facts… and things like why it is called a “V8″ car – which is apparently because the engine has 8 spark plugs and they are arranged in the shape of a “V”.
Instead of pointing out that I didn’t care, I foolishly asked how the arrangement of the spark plugs could make the car go faster… and unfortunately that led to a long, detailed explanation of how it is not the arrangement of the spark plugs that make the engine powerful, but rather the size of the spark plugs and that the arrangement of them merely makes the powerful engine compact enough to fit inside the car. WHATEVER!
But then he stopped talking – which rarely happens. So I asked him if he was okay. And he said that he was – “getting in the zone”. Eh? I suspect he was actually just trying not to wet his pants with excitement.
We arrived at Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo, which is about 15 minutes north of Perth City.
We stepped into a visitor’s lounge, found the registration desks, and got ourselves signed in. Then we mustered on the viewing platform with 50 or so other people, while we waited for our session to start. We watched dozens of cars zoom by. And they all sounded like they were broken… they were so noisy! We were at least 50m from the racetrack, and the cars were so loud that the water in my drink bottle was vibrating! Even I had to admit, the sound of roaring race cars revved up my adrenalin.
We were greeted by a friendly guy, who led us to our briefing room. Only the drivers needed to attend this briefing, all spectators just waited at the viewing platform or the grandstand. But I was allowed to tag along, because I was taking photos for this blog post. I felt a little special – and totally out of place!
25 men (and me) sat down in the briefing room. They were aged from their early 20s to 60s, all wearing sneakers, jeans and big smiles on their faces. Everyone of them looked like an excited 12 year old boy to me :)
The walls of the room were wood-paneled, covered with signatures of famous race drivers, team hats, championship cups, framed photos of car racing guys… it was all very charming in a man-ish way!
The briefing was excellent. The guy in the picture turned out to be Greg, the founder of V8Race, and he was great. He went through the goals of the experience, the particular aspects of driving to focus on, what gears to use at what corners, the track map, showed us a quick video of a typical driving experience… and all their safety protocols.
It was professional, systematic, very (VERY) thorough and at the end of it… even I felt completely confident that I would not crash the car.
My husband was again cool, calm and excited.
We walked down to the crew pits on the track. My hubby is the guy in the blue jeans – walking towards fulfilling one of his childhood dreams haha.
Ah the smell of burning rubber and petrol fumes :P
As we entered the tent… a team of people helped all the drivers get into their fire-resistant suits, hairnets and helmets.
They were really attentive, constantly giving the divers safety checks and tips.
The men lined up and sat down to wait their turn.
We waited too, watching and listening to all the cars blast by. SO LOUD! And when a car pulled up to change drivers… the brakes were so hot from all the braking, that there was smoke coming out of the wheels! The ground was peppered with little tiny bits of black rubber that had been shredded from the tires. It was all so – extreme.
My husband was going to have the “6 Driving Laps” experience. Whereas some people were having “3 Laps Ride Only ” or “8 Driving Laps ” or even “Drive and Ride 12 lap Combo”.
Hooray, when it was my husband’s turn… he was introduced to his driving coach and they hopped into the car.
A crew member helped him get buckled up, briefed him about safety, and then several other people did further safety checks of the safety checks. There were two guys just directing the cars safely in and out of the pits. It was all very well organised.
The inside of the car was as bare as could be, and most of it was taken up with a huge spiderweb of metal pipes all welded together – the safety cage, in case the car crashes.
He started the engine and then he was off!
While he was having a “slow” warm-up lap, I walked up to the viewing platform to take some action shots.
Holy moly! It was soooo loud and fast!
My husband was driving at 240km/hr or something crazy like that!
Each time he came by, I could tell he was getting faster and faster. It was pretty cool to watch.
But I did wonder how they stopped people (like my husband) from crashing the cars!
After what seemed like ages (to me), my husband finally finished his last lap and he pulled into his bay.
He stepped out with a HUGE SMILE and looked so so SO thrilled and pleased with the whole thing.
Just like a sports journalist, I was immediately in his face asking, “So how do you feel?!”
Well… no more Mr Cool. He described it as a SENSATIONAL experience! Bloody brilliant! He would definitely do it again. It was one of the best experiences he’s ever had, ranked alongside swimming with whale sharks! Best. Present. Ever. So good, he would do it AGAIN!
And I stood there dumbly, going “Are you serious?! For real?! Driving around in circles?! Wow. Ok.” — I just do not understand!
But you know what, I guess I don’t have to understand… I was so happy to see him soooooo happy! :)
My hubby also discovered from his coach that the coach has an emergency brake and engine-kill switch – so that is how, if it all goes wrong, nobody gets hurt. The coach literally teaches the driver how to go faster and faster during the session, and makes sure that, if it is necessary for one car to pass another, that this is done safely.
We also purchased a USB in-car recording which shows a view of the whole thing from inside the car (which was very cool), and there is also a souvenir framed photo.
This experience is perfect for guys (or girls who love cars!) as gifts for significant birthdays, anniversaries or any special occasion! V8Race is Australia wide, with experiences available in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and NT.
It was a fantastic experience!
And I drove home, at a very comfortable 60km/hr, thank you very much.
The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!
Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.
To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.
Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.