Heading out to the track I was sure to pack the camera and dragged Mr Tdp, a suitably skilled motorsport photographer, along with me to capture the action.
When we arrived at the track our first order of business was to find our work colleagues, check in and sign a risk acknowledgment form. Motorsport is dangerous and event organisers have a duty of care to let you know that you are not playing with your Wii or xBox and, should anything go wrong there is no reset button.
Once you are all signed in you are given a stamp which coincides with the event you are participating in, drive, ride or a combo of both like me and sent down to get into your race suit. Sexy huh!
Getting into that race suit and getting comfortable was probably my biggest challenge of the day. Fitting wide legged Jeans under a flame retardant race suit with relatively skinny legs, is not an easy job on a good day. But when the temp is hitting 40+ and everything is sticky you can guarantee that job gets a little harder. I spent a good 15 minutes trying to pull my jeans legs down that suit so they weren't all scrunched up around my knees, swearing I would remember to wear leggings next time and would advise others to do the same.
Once that part was all sorted we had our photos taken with one of the cars, and headed off to a drivers briefing. Here we met 10 professional race car drivers that were there purely to help us get the most out of our experience, keep it safe and give us the required instruction. We were run through exactly what we should expect of the day and what to expect on the track and paired up with a driver for the day. If you go and do this experience, get to know your driver! They are going to be your best friend on that track.
Paired up with one time motocross rider (he said he sucked at it so moved to four wheels) and now Formula Ford, Formula Three, Porsche Carrera Cup and A1 Grand Prix driver Ian Dyk I was pretty happy. The group of us driving with him for the day jumped in his car for a couple of observation laps where he talked us through the track, corners, gearing, braking etc. before being dropped off in the pits to await our callout.
By the time I got to the car my heart was racing – I couldn't do up my own helmet anymore thanks to nerves and I didn't even notice the heat anymore, despite being mid 40's with me in jeans and a t-shirt covered by a thick race suit. I think after spending years trackside I was so nervous I was going to stuff up, or be really slow or a really bad driver. There's even more pressure as a woman because you don't want to let the team down in a male orientated sport.
A little yoga later (hey you try climbing over the roll cage!) and I was in the car chatting with Ian and being strapped in tight. We had a little small talk where I told him what I did with Adrenalin and how I'd been a Motorsport photographer for years and that I'd never done this before and I was scared stiff of stuffing up and he was really calming. Made it all so much fun and before I knew it I was starting the car, sliding into first gear and hitting the go pedal. Apparently not hard enough initially because I was quickly encouraged to push it harder.
When in a situation like this you learn to quickly ignore your own instincts, which were brake now, gear down and back off, and to listen to what you are being told. Keep into it, gear up, and mash the go pedal. The car quickly surprises when you expect it to step out or slide and it holds like glue to the racetrack underneath you. With every lap I was getting quicker as I learnt the lines of the track and my confidence increased as Ian encouraged me to overtake, sit in close and "Go Go Go!"
All too soon it was over. I went out 2nd last in my group and I was first to finish. I overtook everyone else on that track and I was buzzing!
When Mr Tdp asked Ian how I went, words cannot express how happy I was that he was told "She can really drive, the girl knows how to steer" – from a Pro!
I'd only just had time to jump around like an idiot, express my love for all things V8 and beg Mr Tdp for a race car of my very own when it was time to get back in the car as a passenger. This time Ian was taking it through the paces for 3 laps and all I could do was hold his water. I think I tightened the lid on that bottle a thousand times, grinned like an idiot and thanked God for my job repeatedly.
At the end of the day that photo we had taken with the cars was printed framed and waiting for me after I returned my race suit. It's sitting proudly on my coffee table where I can boast of my exploits as a Race car driver.
The next day I knew that we were running this event over next 4 days and I was going to be at work. You can bet where my head was every single day though. I purchased the DVD of my experience which will soon arrive in the mail and I am so looking forward to seeing what it was like from a different perspective but you can guarantee one thing… I cannot wait to get back out on that track.
Do you want to have a v8 experience of your own? Or perhaps you are looking to buy a present for that rev head or adrenalin junky in your life?
Log onto http://www.fastrackracing.com.au/experiences.cfm and check out the V8 experiences. Available to anyone over the age of 14 (as a passenger) or with a minimum P Plate licence if they can handle a manual car (for a drive). While I completed my experience at Eastern Creek in Sydney they have similar adventures across Australia.
♥ Tdp xx