23.5.07

I Span Eddie Irvine’s Jaguar

There are not many phonecalls you get out of the blue that ask whether you’d like to go to Sweden and drive an F1 car. In fact, they’ve been a distinct rarity in my life so far, so when I finally did get one from my chum Sadie at Bubble & Squeak I said yes first and checked the diary...well, I’m not sure if I ever did actually. In which case if we were meant to do something last Tuesday, sorry about that.

The event was a corporate jolly run for some existing and potential customers by Digital Vision and my brief was to fly out, join in, and write it all up for their website afterwards. Which, after a few warm up stints in a Formula Opel Lotus, is how I came to find myself strapped in Eddie Irvine’s old Jaguar from the 2000 season barrelling down the main straight of the Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp at Bloody Stupid mph and into the braking zone. Into the perilously short and getting shorter by the nanosecond braking zone, that is.

Somewhere between the stamping down on the brake pedal, the changing down from fifth to fourth to third and a speed which was a bit less Bloody Stupid and turning the steering wheel, it all got a bit messy and the next thing I knew I had pirouetted the car 180 degrees and was going backwards. Brake in, clutch in, stall, swear, wait for a push, drive past the pit wall and 20 people glaring at me and shaking their heads, blush inside helmet. The glares were fair enough. After hearing the screech of tyres from the other side of the circuit, most of them had briefly thought they might be trying to find something else to do in Anderstorp on a Tuesday afternoon – which would have been a challenge even for the combined brainpower of Soho’s finest as the bars looked shut.


So, I didn’t push it in the corners again. Just pootled through them (if you can, in fact, pootle in a car weighing 520kg and boasting something in the region of 600 horsepower) and saved the adrenaline buzz for the straight. Then it was out of the corner in third, fourth, fifth, quick realisation of the fact that you’re in fifth gear and like a discerning gentleman in a Newbury nightclub, the thing is still desperate to accelerate over the horizon, then stamp on the brakes, stamp harder on the brakes, and *gingerly* tip-toe round the corner. Every time you changed gear it was like one of those 600 horses had come round the front of the car and decided to sit on you in the cockpit. Five laps of that and you felt trampled

One guy had a GPS in his pocket as he went round and it logged him at 173kph on the straight, which is only 107mph. Maybe some went faster, maybe some went slower (the centre has had several cases of people just pootling round at 30mph and being ecstatic enough with that thankyouverymuch). What that figure doesn’t convey though is the speed you get up to it and the speed you get back down from it again and the sheer noise and bluster, ferocity and g-forces that occur while you’re doing it. Plus the fact that, well...you’ve just driven an F1 car. An F1 car! Holy shit...

Apart from the fact that my Seat Ibiza 1.4 feels a tad underpowered now, two things occur to me. One, any time anyone ever tries to impress me with their car’s performance for the rest of my life, the appropriate response will be ‘Meh’ at best. Two, I always thought F1 drivers are mad. Now I *know* they are.

http://www.rajamakiracing.com/ if you ever want a go yourself...

4 comments:

Keith said...

That is fantastic. You lucky thing!

Was the car's speed limited at all? Did they have any other F1 cars there? I saw a 2003 Jordan on their website.

Stormin' said...

oh my word... I'd miis an appointment or two if someone rang me and suggested driving at sillymph in sweden... I'm not jelous!

Stormin' said...

wow! - I'd miss an apointment or two if some lovley person ever felt the need to call me up to drive an F1 car at sillymph!

Andy said...

Keith,

Those were the only two cars there, though I believe the company owns seven in total.

The only mods I'm aware of were to noise (limited to 115db), they'd taken out first gear and gave you a push start as a result('First gear is too crazy mad-ass' was the quote), and they switched paddle gear-changes to a lever system as it dovetailed better with people's muscle memory of car driving and resulted in less shagged gearboxes.