Odette cracks the Formula One Self-Drive Experience

Whew!  If a whippet can do this, anyone can.  I was offered a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy the Fantastic Racing F1 Self Drive Single Session and said yes without hesitation even though I felt my throat close slightly.  It was the day before my 34th birthday, how could I ever forget.  I arrived dressed business casual, was greeted warmly and handed my own racing suit along with very unfashionable boots to get dressed into.  I turned and faced a room of male participants who brought with them wives and girlfriends to enjoy the afternoon of fun.  I started to feel slightly queasy as I slinked off to the ladies rooms in order to wrestle with the workings of the racing suit.  I stood in the cubicle freezing to death (it was late August) and slipped on the suit back to front then correctly.  It felt awful, totally cumbersome and unfeminine in every possible way.  It was baggy, unflattering and totally goofy.  I had no idea whether the belt tied in the front or at the back and eventually just tied it to the back which was wrong.  There was nothing slimming or fitted about the attire – then again a racing suit is for protection not for styling!  Then the boots………. oh heavens how butch along with the high top fashion of the 80’s.  I’ve never been more crimson as I ventured out the cubicle and tried to walk with confidence to the briefing area.

After signing our indemnities we sat down and listened to a 45 minute brief that included safety, driving and program instructions for the F1 Self Drive.  The brief was thorough, informative and down to business with an emphasis on fun.  I felt slightly overwhelmed by all the race lingo/acronyms and couldn’t quite figure out how or what the apex meant let alone the mechanics of how to drive the F1 car.  My mouth went dry as soon as the mouse pointer emerged and started flashing all over the presentation in terms of what we could actually be doing.  After the presentation we were directed to the track and asked to alight into a waiting bakkie where we’d be taken around the track to familiarise ourselves with the route and marshals.  10 men pile into the back of the bakkie and then I hoist myself into the back trying to look petite and proper.  I was instantly reminded of my childhood with bicycles and surfboards along with school bags, groceries and brothers all piled into our parents work vehicles.  It was humbling to say the least until the bakkie started and so did the wind.  We were rocking all over the place and the wind was pumping (great for the hair style).  We sped around the track and listened to the pro driver as he gave us instructions on what we’d be expected to do during the F1 Self Drive.  It was hard to hear him but I was great at nodding my head pretending by response that I was well equipped for the day…. NOT. 

We arrived back at the pit and started fitting our helmets with gloves to then walk outside and claim our F1 car.  I have to say I started procrastinating slightly but eventually ventured outside only to find that all the men had hopped into their cars with glee and were revving their cars frantically.  Guess what………… Murphy’s Law…….. I couldn’t find an empty car and almost died when they indicated that my car was the first one right behind the PRO driver!!!  Good heavens I paled and begged them to place me at the back, there’s just no way I could face the rage of 10 gents behind me as I drive 140 km/ph when they are rearing to reach speeds of 180 km/ph plus.  Thankfully they heeded my plea and helped me into the F1 car.  What a strange feeling to sit in a car where my feet didn’t reach the pedals.  They had to use 3 special foam cushions to position my body correctly just so my feet could reach the pedals.  Once strapped in I had the opportunity to fiddle around with the controls and goodness knows how I managed to keep the car running.  For a few moments I actually went blank and completely forgot how to operate a vehicle.  The pedals were slim and slight and the tension was different to a normal car.  You had to rev the car constantly so that it wouldn’t cut out which isn’t something I’ve ever done before (even though I drive my personal car like a girl racer).  The seat is bucket like as though you are lying in a bath and the whole experience felt slightly awkward.  Once the cars started leaving the pit, I followed behind and with some space had time to fiddle around with all the workings before settling into a slightly more comfortable zone.  I deliberately put space between myself and the boys so that I could just enjoy the track on my own.  With every lap my confidence improved.  Practice makes perfect.  It was wonderful to be alone and driving without any obstacles in the way.  I felt so proud of myself for attempting something completely out of my realm and logged this as a mental achievement in terms of pushing the boundaries of limitations.  The entire afternoon provided for excellent and controlled fun along with great camaraderie and spirit.  I highly recommend this experience for boys and girls alike. 

The Fantastic Racing Silver Event is ideal for corporate events, entertaining and team building. Designed for maximum enjoyment, our experienced events team will be there to ensure you and your clients have a Fantastic Event.

The Fantastic Racing Silver Event package offers 1 session of approx 30 minutes in a world class Reynard single-seater race car.

Included in the Fantastic Racing Silver Event:

  • Arrival Drinks
  • Race gear hire – Race suit, Race boots, Gloves, Helmet
  • Comprehensive safety briefing
  • On-going support from our experienced crew
  • Driving time – JHB is 1 session and CPT is 2 sessions of 8-10 laps per session
  • Personalised branded cars with company name and driver’s surname
  • Full hospitality
  • Photographer providing a link to an online gallery of the day’s events
  • Champagne awards ceremony

Read more about the F1 Self-Drive Experience

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Prepared for by Odette Butcher, Chief Experience Officer, Celestial Gift Experiences