There’s petrol power, there’s turbo power and then there’s girl power!
Driving a manual transmission car after a couple of years; from 2004, will seriously drive you nuts! When it’s not even your ordinary 4-wheeled car on the road, but a formula built race car! on a real race track! I don’t freakin know where the hell did I get those balls and jump in with 12 other ball-bearing creatures. lol. but yes. it is freakin awesome!
A matter-o-factly, If I’m not tossing papers and pens on my 9-5, I would have been exercising my adrenaline-fuelled mind in the race track. But… when you are torn between trying to [be invincible] pursue your passion and bringing food on the table; knowing a tribe has to eat, you’ll probably choose the latter [and just cry in the corner for your disenchantments]. lol
“I’m an aggressive driver.” having had excavated a seriously deep hole in my pocket leaving my wallet worn-out empty for paying off my traffic violations in Dubai [ which I know better now; thank God, lessons learned], I think I have memorized [crossing fingers] where all those cameras are strategically placed, knowing when to slow down a bit. Woohoo! though sometimes I still get carried away and able to hi-smile at the camera once in awhile. [phwew]
Although my dad used to tell me stories about my early childhood; having a strong fascination in anything that involves speed, it all started when I was barely 12. My dad bought me a bicycle when all I want is for him to teach me how to drive his yellow dirt bike, having had the chance to watch every game; in complete bewilderment, as he competes in a trials motocross racing.
These experiences have not just molded an interest in me but have also become the fabric of my life. Racing is one of the far too many [deadly] subjects that triggers my curiosity.
One way or another, We are all racing, not literally so but we are… in our pursuit of a better life.
I’m a different person behind the wheel. When I’m driving, it gives me a big sense of freedom. It feels like I can conquer the world and able to move mountains. Mighty and proud, the world is mine and I can do anything on it!
When I moved here in the UAE, I had the chance to attend the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. It’s an experience like no other!
I tell you. Nothing! as in nothing stands out in my mind!
The roar of the engine as it reverberates off, the howl, the scream that somehow brings peace to your soul realizing that you’re in the same crowd of high-spirited individuals and you are not the only one crazy enough about speed. I have to stand up every turn on the course hearing the high-pitched whine and the grounds shaking as the cars came around the track at a great speed like a lightning bolt. Trust me, there is no single adjective that could justify the feeling of being up there. It gets into your bones, quite literally. lol
However, those who doesn’t understand the charm of racing may just interpret it simply as cars repeatedly driving in circles. Well, you don’t see what you don’t understand. And as explained by other connoisseurs; non-believers will never see the meticulous engineering it takes to trim out a car and generate a down force to run faster, or the fuel conservation and intricate strategy required to win a race. People that are unbeknownst to the team aspect that even a minor mishap on a pit stop can cost a team its chances at victory. Perhaps, if they appreciate the danger every driver assumes the moment he gets inside the car knowing it could claim their life anytime… or if they were cognizant enough of the gruelling physical toll it takes on a driver who stands to lose an average of 5 pounds each race, maybe they will. maybe.
And again before I get carried away with my own sentiments and frustrations, let’s go back to Dubai Autodrome wherein you will get to experience firsthand, the thrills from behind the wheel of a formula built performance high speed f1 style race car in a 5.39 km circuit. – An activity for a Motorsports enthusiast like me, though I’m not as good as I imagined [or claimed to be]. Well, at least I will get to drive in the same track where Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button did.
An authentic F1 experience, the gears, the experts on a real Grand Prix race track! So, let’s GO!
Arriving at the Autodrome reception; since I purchased my voucher online through groupon, they will need to verify the voucher and confirm your schedule. Mine is at 3pm [yes, you’ve heard me right!], in the middle of the field under the scorching heat of the mid-eastern sun! It’s 50 degrees outside you people! huhu
You will then ask to change into your full racing gear [on top of your muggle-appropriate clothing] before you will be ousted into a room where the briefing will be held.
Full of excitement, clearly, I am so gonna F1-loving it!
Inside the briefing room, you will be given a full safety briefing and instruction regarding the circuit and on how to handle the cars, whether it’s the turbocharged, all-wheel drive Audi TT or a race-ready single-seater F1 style car. The briefing includes a short story of where racing began, how it became so popular and so on.
DRIVING at high speeds… Racing – is some kind of wishful thinking. It has been my childhood dream to be a race car driver, having been an avid follower of Shirley Dulmoney since. But getting engage into this kind of sport will cost you a fortune. Probably an arm and a leg, yes! and with someone like me who need to work her ass off [day and night] just to meet ends, I can’t simply afford to finance it.
Anyway, so here we go… Our instructor guiding us out and into the coaster where they will take us inside the field.
Alas! we’re outside and ready to pump the gas! Breath in, breath out people!
I tell you! In here? You have to forget any racing game you’ve ever played online. There are no driver aids, there are no track maps on your screen and there are no racing lines and helpful red and green markings on the track to tell you when to apply the brakes and when to accelerate.
Before you can begin though, your instructor [yes, the white hot guy in the picture] will explain everything to you – that you will have no real help – and effectively tells you that you’re likely to spend the next 15 minutes of your qualifying attempt spinning off the track and careering into walls. [that’s my boy in white long sleeves giving me a pat on my shoulders, lol]
And that is largely what I did. There are markers on some of the corners telling you are 150, 100 and 50 metres respectively from the turning point and our instructor had told us the best time to brake on most corners is when you hit the 150 mark.
But they are not on all of the corners so a lot of it is down to your own judgement. There is no other way to put it, it is more difficult than the world difficult!
It’s difficult to get used to rapidly changing up and down through the gears using levers behind the steering wheel, and it’s even more difficult to nail a corner without slowing down too much or braking too late.
A wide variety of assists will make the driving much more manageable for newcomers who want to learn the ropes. Poor me, I was the last one to finish the race though. Well, at least better than other ball-bearing guys who cut their race time and simply gave up. Going home to mama losing one ball eventually! ahahah. Kidding aside, If you already know the tracks and have a rough idea of when to brake and when to accelerate, you’ll settle into it much faster.
But I have learned a lot even in just a short time. Like for instance, when you fight with the steering wheel at speeds of up to 200mph you start to understand why – this is a workout! I now understand why most of the race car drivers are freakin’ sexy hot aside from the fact, of course, that they need to fit inside that tiny space.
After a pretty dismal showing in my attempt at qualifying, we were taken for a debriefing ahead of our actual race. It’s at this point you really understand how in-depth and accurate this experience is.
It is ludicrously fun. Once you get past the frustration of spinning after your wheel clips a bit of the gutter, and you start to get the hang of it, it becomes exhilarating.
Being out there is mind-blowing, and if you are not used to driving at these speeds, slowing for the corners can be the big issue, & will spin out the order of the day! Knowing just how fast the cars can negotiate the corners is what must be learned, and everything happens so fast that the mind is flat-out keeping up with what is happening, coping and making the necessary split second decisions. It is a great experience. Pretty incredible!
I lost track of my lap time but in all honesty, it was clear I shouldn’t give up my 9-5 job! well, at least not yet. [hopes are high, fingers crossed]
So.. Are you still dreaming about what it would feel like to be a Formula One driver? Don’t imagine any more, buckle yourself and Just Do It!
It is the closest you can get to the real thing!
Will definitely be back in the driver’s seat, and having been talked through the track again and how to handle particular corners, and given individual tips based on an analysis of our driving, I am determined to get back out there and regain my reputation. I should! I must! for the love of God! Let me have my glory days too! lol
Wooohoooo! I would love to try it next in… https://www.yasmarinacircuit.com/en/experiences/driving-experiences