Tony Gregory: My High Octane Day Out
November 29, 2012 by Tony Gregory
Last week I was given the chance to pop down to Mondello Park and test out their three motorsport experience activities all in one day, the 4×4 Experience, the Supercar Experience & The Motor Racing Experience.
Having been involved in motorsport for over 20 years I suppose I was a little cynical but intrigued to see how things had moved on since I had last attended one, a Jim Russell day at Donington Park in the early 90’s which involved a Vauxhall Junior and a MK1 Land Rover!
My day started in the dark and after a monotonous 2 hour drive, fresh coffee and the buffet continental breakfast was a very welcome sight upon arrival. The attention to detail was such, that an arcade driving game had been set-up in the suite with driving seats and steering wheels, a great addition for the real petrol head. A smooth sign-on process added to the relaxed atmosphere with any driving licence issues being easily overcome, I only wish hiring a car was as simple!
I had decided to ease myself in gently and decided to put my hand-up for the off-road course first, perhaps that was a mistake when one of the instructors approached us wearing a pair of wellies! We climbed on board our Land Rover Discovery and headed off to the back of turn 1. Well, what greeted us was a full blown play ground for 4×4’s with every trick and obstacle you could think of, but still a course that could be tailored to people’s differing abilities given the various loops that had been designed in. After getting our eye in, you could really appreciate that there’s defiantly a driving style associated with these vehicles, so it was great to see that the equipment was well capable and up to the job and not just your average Chelsea tractor!
After a coffee top-up, our next assignment was to test drive the Supercar Experience which uses Mondello’s 1.2 mile National Circuit. We started of with some tester laps in a race prepped Mazda 3, which was fast enough for the job and gave a stable platform to those first time circuit drivers. Part 2 involved jumping ship into one of the Porsche Boxer S’s and it was at this juncture the USB keys we were given at sign-on came into play.
Quite cleverly the cars have built-in cameras and telemetry giving Mondello’s customer’s a birds eye view of their experience and the added bonus of reliving their day back home on their own PC. Due to the nature of the circuit layout your constantly kept busy but at the same time very safe and secure given that the cars have dual controls and all the usual bells and whistles you would expect with a high performance car.
After lunch our last assignment of the day required us to head across to the newly renamed Motor Racing Experience based on the international loop. Suited and booted, we joined our instructor for some reconnaissance laps and then got fitted into our 1800cc Formula Sheane. After the relief of getting the car out of the pit-line without stalling, I was taken aback as to how user friendly and driveable the Sheane was and when you take into account the trackside information boards you really can’t go wrong in producing a respectable lap time.
As the chequered flag fell on our high octane day out I can honestly say that I’ve had my head turned and came away with the confidence that some form of entry level motorsport wouldn’t be out of my reach. Overall, the day couldn’t be faulted from the equipment to the instructors and I wish Mondello every success for the future.