Watch enough racing and – sooner or later – the urge will come upon you to have a go in a fast car yourself. One of the easiest ways to do this is through one of the hundreds of different driving experiences on offer on circuits around the UK.
We’ve had a look at what’s available – while locking the credit cards in a drawer – and have made a list that’s intended to give you an overview of some retailers offering driving experiences and the wide variety of rides you can try. Whether it’s a sleek supercar, a robust rally car, a classic, a kart or even a tank, there should be an experience for every taste. And pocket – they start at less than £100 and go up to north of £1,000.
Bear in mind that many driving experiences have age, clothing, height or weight requirements, or may be dependent on the weather, so you need to check out the description and terms and conditions for each one carefully on the retailer’s own website before booking. The list below is intended as a general guide to what’s available, not the final word. You’ll also have to take your full UK driving licence along with you on the day.
- Activity Gifts
- Activity Gifts carries a full range of driving experiences including fast cars, 4x4s, big vehicles and even tanks. But, for our money, its best products are in the rallying section where you can choose from full and half days in a number of vehicles and venues, including the mighty Subaru Impreza. Our eye was particularly drawn by the full-day forest rallying experience. No, we’re not practising our power slides as we save our pennies. Absolutely not.
- Activity Superstore
- If classic cars are your thing, then pop along to Activity Superstore. Check out its range of classic experiences and you could soon be driving a Jaguar D-Type at Goodwood, heading out for a picnic in a Jensen Interceptor, or trying out a Caterham or a Morgan. Whichever you choose, it will definitely be an experience to remember.
- The most superficial glance down a list of available driving experiences will tell you that getting a go in a supercar is not very hard. The authentic, uncompromising thrill of a single-seater, however, is much harder to achieve. Step forward Buyagift whose wide range of single-seater experiences takes in the iconic Silverstone, the chance to drive at the Rockingham Motor Speedway and even a go in a genuine F1 car in venues around Europe – including the unbeatable Monte Carlo. What more could you possibly ask for?
- Extreme Element
- Ever fancied trying your hand at drifting? By which we mean inducing deliberate oversteer in order to drop the back end of the car in corners while maintaining control of the steering for a high-speed exit. It’s also popularly called “getting sideways” – a skill that any tintop racing driver must master in order to succeed. If you’ve ever fancied this, Extreme Element has the driving experience for you – a half-day or full-day course based in Wellingborough, Northants. You get an introduction to the basic theory and practice of drifting as well as brushing up on advanced car control. So you can even claim it’s essential driver training. Sorted.
- Into The Blue
- The driving experiences offered by Into The Blue give you lots of opportunities to have fun. Whether it’s go-karting, learning skid control, practising some of the tricks of stunt driving or trying your hand at buggy racing, there are a wealth of activities for those who just want to get behind the wheel and enjoy themselves shamelessly. After all, hobbies are supposed to be fun, and racing is no exception.
- Red Letter Days
- Red Letter Days offers just about the daftest driving experience we’ve ever seen – at least, since they strapped Mr Bean to an armchair on the roof of a Mini at the Goodwood Revival a year or two ago. Called Wacky Races, this almost indescribable experience offers you the opportunity to ride in the world’s fastest office, with full use of computer, conference table and water-cooler. Or how about a leopard print sofa that reaches 87mph? If youre appetite’s still jaded, progress to the Double Decker car the driver on top controls the steering, the one on the bottom controls the pedals. What can we say? You must have to be there…
- The Gift Experience
- A good destination for adrenaline junkies looking for something a bit out of the ordinary – that’s our take on The Gift Experience. It’s their winning ways with Caterhams that really caught our eye. Fancy trying to drift one? You can do that. Or how about slalom against the clock? Yup, that too. If even a Caterham is a little level-headed for your taste, try the Quad Bike Thrill for Two.
- Thruxton Motorsport Centre
- Some petrolheads believe that simply nothing beats a supercar – and Thruxton Motorsport Centre has an epic selection of thoroughbred driving experiences. Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini and Lotus – all the big names are here, plus the chance to have fun in a Land Rover or even to be shown how it’s done by Tiff Needell. This provider claims to offer “the best choice and best-value-for money driving experiences on a proper licenced race circuit in the UK” – and its fleet of supercars is certainly as amazing as billed!
- You want to drive a tank, and you know it. Especially if you get to drive it over a car. So don’t be ashamed, pop along to TreatMe.Net where you’ll be among sympathetic folk who want you to enjoy the full range of military driving experiences on offer there. That includes Military Manoeuvres, an experience that includes hands-on quality time with an armoured personnel carrier and a Snowcat. They also do one called The Full Monty. But we’re not looking too closely into that.
- Virgin Experience Days
- And finally – we’ve covered almost everything you can do on the road, so lets go off-road with Virgin Experience Days. Because we know if there’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, it’s drive a digger. If you’re less keen to jump straight in at the deep end you coudl try an introduction to off-road driving, go to extremes at Silverstone or even mix it up with a bit of rallying. If you’re looking for the ultimate in jaw-dropping presents you could do a lot worse than stop off here…