Rally and stunt driving

Mud, sweat… and learning the art of handbrake parking

As part of a ‘Christmas present extravaganza’, I was invited to spend a day at Silverstone pretending to be a rally driver, and a day at Rockingham pretending even harder to be a stunt driver.

The rally day, hosted by Airwaves, was spent taking advice from rally driver David Paveley and then putting into practice what we’d learnt in MkII Escorts. What separated this from other courses was that apart from describing what you needed to do (i.e. forget everything you ever learnt on a track), Paveley also explained exactly why you were doing it. Not an easy task when ‘taking the smoothest line through the corner’ has been ingrained in your head ever since you took your first tender steps on a race track.

If you want to learn more about the art of driving a rally car quickly, and just how difficult it is, then the day at Silverstone is certainly worth a shot. Although watch out for the 20p charity fine if you hit a tyre – I parted with over £10. (www.silverstonerally.co.uk)

As for the stunt driving day, I can quite happily admit to never having done anything like this before. The day is geared towards what you’d have to do to be a stunt driver and how you’d approach each sequence of stunts for a cameraman. J Turns, Reverse 180s, Forward 180s and Box 90s are all covered by seasoned stuntman Sam Maher-Loughman, and although he found a few of my attempts at handbrake parking (Box 90s) absolutely hilarious, he does have an extraordinary amount of patience for someone who makes all of these manoeuvres look depressingly easy.

The organisers also run drift sessions in Mazda MX5s, which are equally smile-inducing. On the whole, this driving experience was a lot of fun – and more so than some others. There aren’t many courses where, when you’ve gone through an entire set of tyres, the instructor just politely informs you that he’ll be back in a second with some new ones… (www.racing-school.co.uk)