Hey drivers, it’s me – Jim!
So it’s that time of year again where there is a chill in the air and the faint sound of jingle bells in the distance as Christmas slowly creeps upon us. A lot of people will agree that the year has gone far too quickly, but will start making all of their festive preparations. However, for those of us still holding on to the dying breaths of summer (as much of a distant memory it is) and fully embracing autumn – we might be reminiscing on some of our favourite memories from the year so far; before finally accepting the fact that Christmas will soon be less than a month away!
For those like-minded souls like me, let’s take a journey back to the beginning of summer, when the weather was warmer and it was fully acceptable to be wearing a t-shirt and shorts (I know! Sounds ludicrous now doesn’t it!). All the way back then I was lucky enough to be invited to the second annual ‘Marmalade Track Day’ by the team at Marmalade; and once again, we had a cracking time! From driving sports cars as fast as you can possibly imagine, to learning how to be a safer driver in day-to-day life, we literally did everything! And now it’s my turn to tell you exactly how amazing it was!
The start of the day
We started off the day at Rockingham Motor Speedway with a hearty breakfast (even though my mate and I might have already stopped off for a cheeky McDonald’s breakfast on the way… shhh!!) And then took part in a short quiz about driving theory and safe driving, to see how much we knew at the start of the day. After a short talk from one of the Rockingham staff, we got down to business and suited up for our first activity.
Some of you may know if you follow my social channels, that I live down in Brighton and don’t have the immediate access to a car down here. As a result, it is a slightly less common occurrence for me to get behind the wheel of a car. I do get the opportunity a couple of times a year when I visit my family back in Oxford and get some short-term insurance on my Mum’s car, so getting stuck into all the activities at Rockingham was a real treat for me!
The first part of the day this year was dedicated to safe-driving; something I was quite up to date with thanks to a safe-motorway driving experience Marmalade kindly set me up with a few weeks before. This year we got assigned to a driver and a regular car (I was driving a Peugeot of some description, I can’t remember the exact model) and we then were asked to drive out of the venue and do some driving around the local area for about an hour. The instructor sitting in the car with us was asked to do a mini assessment on the level of safety in our driving. I got some really great a valuable feedback! As I said previously I don’t get to drive very regularly, so for me, this was a nice little refresher!
Slip and slide
Next up was the skid pan and kick plate! We had to take it in turns navigating our way around this difficult course as safely as possible. I have written a blog post about driving whilst using your mobile, which was inspired by this experience, so go check that out if you haven’t already! Of course, the Rockingham staff didn’t make this easy for us as they put us under ‘mock’ scenarios with driving distractions. This gave me some valuable life lessons on just how important it is to keep your eyes on the road! After navigating the course, we then had to try and save ourselves from a skid by using the skid pan simulator. This ‘skid pan’ kicks out the rear of your vehicle whilst driving over the slippery wet tile course and you have to try and save yourself by correcting the vehicle and getting it facing forwards again. This experience is designed to try and simulate what would happen in a real-life aqua-planing situation, so again is an invaluable experience!
Put your foot down!
What better way to spend an afternoon than driving a Lamborghini and Nissan GTR around a track eh?! Needless to say, the experience was exhilarating! A little later we then got the chance to play around on the autotest course, whereby we got to skid around on a track outlines by cones, trying to get the best time we possibly could whilst still completing the course correctly; it was everything you ever wanted to do in the Tesco car park in your mum’s car!
Looking for a great Christmas present?
As I mentioned in the title of this blog post, track day experiences like this would make an absolutely fabulous Christmas gift to a loved one. Not only the ‘fun’ aspect, but also the safety influences make for a great learning experience, so could suit somebody who has recently passed their driving test!
So that’s it from me today, I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I’m sure I’ll be back with some more festive inspired pieces before the big day!
So until then, drive safe – and good luck to anyone about to take their test – remember to take extra care at this time of year when the roads can start to get icy!
Jim Knight 🙂