Five things for every petrolhead to do before they die: Gavin Green recommends flying with a rally star like Seb Loeb
Five things a petrolhead must do before the end of the world
21 October 2008 11:45
The world is about to end. The newspapers and the BBC (‘global meltdown’, ‘we’re all doomed’, ‘thousands lose their savings’) say so. The sky is falling. Henny Penny is quite clear on this.
So this may be the time to dispense my five things that all car buffs absolutely, positively have to do before the world economy finally collapses and we’re all forced to ride around on Chinese pushbikes.
As a privileged motoring journalist, I have been fortunate enough to have experienced all of my recommendations. But each is open in some way to anyone with the will – and wedge – to do it.
1. Drive a Ferrari
Every car enthusiast needs to do this, at least once. Try for a 1963 250 GTO. Otherwise an F40
is best. If you can’t find a willing Ferrari
owner happy to loan you his keys, a Lamborghini
(Miura or Countach ideally) is okay.
2. Do 150mph-plus
This is not easy. I suggest going to Germany and renting something fast, like a 911 or an M3. Oddly, doing 150mph on the motorway is far more stimulating than doing big speed on a racing circuit (after all, Formula One drivers do this all the time, and look how dull they are). When you hit 150, try to overtake a police car. Take pride in the cheerful wave the German copper will give you. It’s makes a nice contrast with the UK, where a similar speed will get you a ban and your name in the Daily Mail
3. Drive a single-seater racing car on a racing track
Single-seat Formula cars – the more powerful, the better – show how clumsy road cars can be. My favourite circuits in the UK are Donington, Oulton Park and Castle Combe. Silverstone is boring, as you’d expect from a circuit that hosts a Grand Prix.
4. Ride alongside a pro rally driver in a rally car
This is the most amazing thing you’ll ever do on four wheels. I once went with Colin McRae in a WRC Focus (sadly an option no longer open). Not sure how to advise on this one. Becoming a pro rally navigator will take too long and is not an option open to the under 50s in age or the over 50s in IQ. You could write a letter to Sébastien Loeb, care of Citroën, and hope for the best. Or go to one of the rally driving schools in Wales. Okay, Loeb won’t be driving. But even the club rally stars who instruct at these schools will give you a lesson in car control you’ll never forget. Even if, with names like Gwyndaf and Hywel, you won’t be able to pronounce their names. Or understand a thing they say.
5. Ride a bicycle down a French mountain
This is the most exciting thing you will ever do legally on the road. The Tour de France guys do over 60mph down these hills, despite being high on drugs. If you’re not fit enough to climb to the summit, get a lift. After that, gravity makes you go faster not slower. Plus it’s good practice for the cycling we’ll all have to do if the mass media gets their way and economic Armageddon arrives.
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