It is that time of year again when the streets are flooded with people, no tree is without lights and the radio only plays songs from Christmas past. As the 25th December races towards us faster than you can say “Rudolph the red nose reindeer” buying gifts becomes one of your main events of each week. But what to buy? Well the good folks down at Activity Superstore might just have something for that budding supercar petrol head in your life. We went to investigate…
Inside Lane was invited to an “Aston Thrill” gift day on the Great Tew Estate in Oxfordshire. It was an early start to make the journey from the south coast but not letting the bitter cold prevent us from attending, we enthusiastically bounded up the motorway only getting lost once or twice (damn you Apple Maps!) The event is run by Vision Motorsport, a professional track experience company that offer a wide range of activities behind the wheel.
Upon arrival we entered the warming reception building, a welcome change of environment from arctic -2 of outside, and signed in. The staff were all very friendly and extremely knowledgable about everything from the material makeup of the track, to the machines that they place upon it. After a safety briefing and signing all the necessary paperwork, soul not required if you pay the damage waiver of £20, I was buckled into a Subaru Impreza WRX STi as a passenger for a couple of familiarisation laps.
As the Subaru burbled and spat into life the excitement began to grow. I love race tracks as there is an atmosphere that is unlike any other that fills the paddock, track and cockpit. My instructor, Matt Fell, was handy behind the wheel to say the least. He made the car dance from bend to bend around this circuit that has some very complex corners. He commentated on technique and how important it was to take the correct racing line for a quick lap around this track. Pulling back into the paddock my weapon of choice was reveled to me.
In gun metal grey, a sculpture of British engineering sat before me. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage has to be one of the most beautiful cars, not just of late, but ever. It’s bold lines define its character of being both powerful and soulful. Turning the key does not only start the chain reaction of combustion, but also begins a symphony of glorious noise that goes straight through you.
Heading out on track gave me the opportunity to really open the taps, something that is hard to do on public roads when we review cars. Though not ideally tailored to track driving, the V8 Vantage danced from corner to corner demonstrating its superb balance between performance and refinement. The long straight was gobbled up by the Aston’s 380BHP in seconds. There is something about an Aston Martin, something almost unexplainable. It isn’t so much a car, but an emotional experience of wheels.
All too soon it was time to return the car… Track days offer people the opportunity to not only drive cars that they may never have dreamed to in their lives, but more importantly they allow you use these burnished specimens of performance as they were intended. I would strongly recommend Supercar driving days as the perfect Christmas gift for 2012.