When I was 29 I wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to complete before I was 30 and although I never quite completed the list I did manage to tick off most of them with a bit of help from family and friends. One of the things on my list was to drive a really fast car and my husband arranged this for me for my birthday at the Three Sisters in Wigan.
My husband arranged a track experience for me to driving an Aston Martin and although very excited the whole way there I was a nervous wreck, I literally felt sick to my stomach convinced I wouldn’t be able to drive it, would crash it and end up with a bill for £1000s or make a fool of myself.
When we arrived I found I was in a large group and a number of us would be on the track together, in various super cars. Now call me naïve but it hadn’t even entered my head that I would have to share the track with other people, the possibility of me actually crashing had just quadrupled in the space of seconds and my heart was racing so hard I swear I was seconds away from having a heart attack.
My husband, mum and two boys grabbed a seat in the café area whilst I went for my briefing, a room filled predominately with men, self-confident, loud, and eager to reach top speed, kind of men. I was sat at the back shaking and praying I could get the car off the start line, concentrating so hard on the instructions you would have thought I was expected to sit an exam.
The activities for the day were explained to us and I was relieved to hear we would go round the track with someone else first to get a feel for it. I met my family and we wondered out to the track and I was fitted with a safety helmet. The weather was a dismal, raining and cold and I couldn’t understand how everyone else was so excited, for me the wet track made it more frightening not more fun.
I must of looked like I was about to be tortured, as another driver kept asking if I was ok and if someone had booked this as a surprise for me and did they actually like me – I couldn’t help but laugh.
Within minutes my car –the amazing Aston Martin, arrived. The instructor was wonderful and immediately picked up on the fact I was terrified, although the shaking hands were probably a giveaway. He asked me to adjust the seat and told me I was a bit short to be a racing driver as I could only just see over the steering wheel if I strained my neck like a giraffe and did I want to swop cars? Not a chance, if I got out of this car there was no way I would get back in another one, especially with all these people watching. So I strained my neck and stretched my legs and prayed I wouldn’t die for the next 10 minutes and besides, I was convinced my eyes would be shut through sheer terror so what difference would it make if I could see over the steering wheel anyway.
The instructor told me to start moving the car and the fact I couldn’t find the gear stick was not a good start, although apparently highly amusing that I hadn’t known about the pedals on the steering wheel. Anyway once ready we set off and immediately I was over taken, and then again and again. I was shaking like a leaf and didn’t dare move in case another car came past, but the instructor was brilliant and told me exactly where to drive to and assured me he was watching for other cars and wouldn’t let me crash, plus he pointed out I wasn’t really going fast enough to do much damage anyway– cheeky sod!
After lap one I felt more relaxed and quickly got to grips with the course picking up speed and by lap 4 I was starting to smile instead of shake. By lap 6 I was really starting to get confident and enjoying myself and putting my foot down on the straight bits, then it was over. I couldn’t believe it was over so quickly, it was invigorating, nerve wracking, enjoyable and scary all rolled in to one. It’s a freedom behind the wheel that doesn’t seem right yet you desire it non the less. A true battle of heart over head and impulse over sense. I have a feeling this type of activity is something that is enjoyed more the more times you do it. I definitely plan to do this again and hopefully next time I will be more confident to put my foot down from lap one and follow my need for speed instead of my head for road safety.
Despite feeling terrified I had a fantastic day, it really is good to go outside your comfort zones sometimes and if you are thinking about it I would highly recommend booking a track day of you get chance.