Author: Pauls Timrots
Bedford Autodrome, England
Perfect price-quality relationship! 4 totally distinct circuits, 7 different types of vehicles and a whole day to enjoy all that cost £700. The autodrome is owned by the formerly famous Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer and located 16km from Bedford. Laid out across a 384 acre site in the midst of nowhere, it lets you fly at full throttle! A total length of tracks is almost 10 km, whilst no more than 50 auto fanatics speed along at the same time. A range of cars is impressive - the huge garage contains over 100 different cars, worth over 3 million pounds. Renault Clio Cup, Caterham Superlights, Formula Jaguar, Land Rover Defender, Jaguar XKR, Porsche 911 JP3, and, of course, Palmer's Jaguar JP1 sports prototype, inspired by the Le Mans 24 hours race. It's a paradise on earth for any auto freak! Moreover, the autodrome boasts the first rate safety provisions - no crowd-protecting safety barriers, no concrete walls or sign poles - in a word, nothing to hit if you run off the track, just acres of green grass. Perfect!
You can never know, which car you'll drive the first and it doesn't matter either as you will try all of them anyway. An hour long session is given for each one, which might seem somewhat too short to get used to a right side wheel, peculiarities of a car and a track, changed almost after each drive. No more than 15 to 20 minutes are left to achieve the best lap time, yet it's the wildest and most exhilarating experience ever anyway. Instructors are crazy folks and absolute fanatics of their work, they scream and encourage their guests to step on and drive faster, 250km/h being just the minimum! The autodrome is meant not only for professional racers, but for novices as well to discover what car they prefer to drive and how. Then, returning at Bedford again, they are able to chose one particular vehicle and devote all the time to it alone.
For the most part, enthusiasts of Bedford race tracks are Englishmen themselves. Most commonly, they are gentlemen of age 40 to 50, driving speedy sports cars and well off enough to afford a fast-flying weekend pursuit on a regular basis. A clients' parking lot features a remarkable selection of fancy vehicles, like BMW M3 and M5, Audi RS4, RS6, etc. In the end, a symbolic prize is given to the best driver of the day.
Applications accepted year round: www.palmersport.com
Audi Ice Experience, Finland
Romping along race courses in Latvia, frankly speaking, is a pricey entertainment, and renting a decent vehicle is next to impossible. The best you can get is a karting or a race car with a professional driver at the wheel. If you wish to step on and challenge speed records, use their own car! Audi Ice Experience offers a superb alternative to traditional skiing holidays in Austria or Switzerland. For 4000 Euro (not much more expensive than a weekend in Alps) the newest Audi Quattro models are at your disposal and speeding along frozen Finnish lakes, guaranteed. Moreover, it all takes place 200 km beyond the Arctic Circle. Yes, that's right! First, you have to fly to a tiny Ivalo town, and then go by bus to Muonio village. Its whole neighborhood is literally scattered with small and big lakes. Some are favored by Mercedes enthusiasts, on others, cold resistance, wind and snow impact is tested.
Olos hotel in Muonio (www.laplandhotels.com) is purpose-built for Audi Ice Experience group, never exceeding 10 people. Its owner, an elderly Finn, is a seasoned snow racing fanatic. He takes a quick gulp of his own made homebrew now and then and hurries to demonstrate to freshly-arrived guests his pride and joy - Audi Sport Quattro, the very first model, introduced in 1984. Currently such a car costs between 20 to 100 thousands.
Training sessions, directed by professional instructors who know their stuff, lasts for 4 ½ days and gives away all the tricks of drifting in style - a power-slide, cornering techniques, zigzag - a totally thrilling experience, in a word! And almost no risk whatsoever! In -25ºC the ice is unbreakable, and hitting the soft snow is the only holdup that can happen.
In the first day, just the second gear is allowed, and you can try sharp, small turns and learn some basic elements, like making perfect circles on ice, for example. On the second day, you can put into the third gear already. And finally, on the last one, try to achieve a maximum of 130-140kmph. Just step on it! Each driver gets a card that allows 5 calls of a tractor, to help out of a snowdrift if there is no chance to get out on your own. If you exceed this limit, you have to pay an additional amount per each extra call. If you stick to common sense, however, there should be no such need. A circuit is of superb quality with no more than 5 cars circling simultaneously over the frozen lake, all of them almost brand-new, with only a couple of thousand kilometers run. A night drive is an equally exhilarating experience, and previously mastered map-reading skills are of utmost value there.
A training session does not limit itself to dashing through the snow. You can take a short break and have a look at speeding and sliding along the slick surface from a helicopter-eye view. What a fantastic feeling it is to sit next to the pilot and follow a car on the lake from the above, flying on top speed! Or you can venture into the snowy vastness of Finland on a snowmobile with lakes, woods and tundra unfolding on your way. The huge open space and the beauty of nature are beyond description! If you have still some strength left, you can hit the nearby slopes on skis (included in the price). It's hardly likely, however, as a day on the lake drains most of energy, even if you have decided to share a car, taking turns with another driver.
Bookings are accepted through Audi dealers in Latvia or on the website www.audi.com/com/brand/en/experience/audi_driving_experience/audi_ice_experience/Finland_experience.html
Keywords: England, Finland, auto, drift, Bedford Autodrome, Audi Ice Experience