Tanks for the memory

Most of us have a motoring fantasy, whether it’s sitting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 racing car, going off-road in a jeep, or even driving a tank, there are plenty of companies which can help turn these dreams into reality. Here’s our round up of some of the best…

Drive the ‘supercar’ of your dreams

Ever pictured yourself behind the wheel of a Ferrari or Aston Martin?  Sign up for a Supercar experience at the Three Sisters Race Circuit in Lancashire (http://www.three-sisters.co.uk/driving-experiences.asp), and you can drive one of a range of ‘supercars’ including the Ferrari 360 Modena, Lamborghini Gallardo, Lotus Elise, Aston Martin, Ariel Aton, Abarth 500, Audi R8 or the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The experience costs £115, or if you want to involve a partner, you can extend it to include overnight accommodation including dinner and breakfast, a driving experience for two, a commemorative photo of you both next to your chosen supercar and a CD containing two images, for £345. But what actually happens on this experience? You spend the day at the Three Sisters Racing Track starting with a technical briefing, followed by four miles in a sports saloon driven by your instructor so you can learn about circuit lines and car position. Then you take the wheel to drive around the race track in the supercar of your choice. Afterwards, you are presented with a certificate as a memento of your experience, and you’ll be able to buy professional photos and a DVD of your drive.

Become a tank commander

Okay, so you might not actually become a real tank commander, but the Abbott Gun Tank advanced tank driving Experience with Tank Driving Scotland will certainly help make you feel like one. The total experience, with costs £209.99 per person for a voucher pack, or £200 if you want an e-voucher only, lasts around two hours, and you’ll get one-on-one instruction throughout.
The course includes a beginners’ track, obstacle negotiation track and advanced track involving tank traps and massive drops in an armoured personnel carrier (APC), and you’ll also get to go around the beginners track in the Abbot. Alternatively, if you’re feeling destructive, why not fork out £280 for the ‘Crush a car’ tank day at Tank Mania in Leicestershire, where you get to flatten a car? (passengers not included). Check out the website www.tankdriving.co.uk to find tank driving centres and experiences countrywide.

Feel the force of a Formula 1 racing car

Driving a Formula 1 racing car around a real race track has got to be the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience for any die-hard motor-racing fan. However, you’ll need to have deep pockets. The Racing School, for example, which claims to be the UK's only provider of F1 experiences in ex-grand prix cars, charges £1,599 for a Formula 1 driving day voucher that is valid for 24 month.
The School also offers several other driving experiences at five venues across the UK, Brands Hatch, Three Sisters Race Circuit, Donington Park, Rockingham Motor Speedway and Oulton Park, although the Formula 1 day is only available at the Three Sister’s racetrack. Although the Formula 1 experience is expensive, you do get plenty of driving action for your money. The experience starts with a comprehensive safety briefing. You will then start your track activity with five familiarisation laps of the circuit in a sports saloon being driven by an instructor, then driving it yourself for 10 laps. After that, you move onto both the Aston Martin and the Ferrari 360 for two 6-mile sessions, before taking control of a single seater for a paced 10-lap session. After that you'll drive seven un-paced laps in the single seater followed by 10 laps in a Formula 3 single seater before the real highlight of the day: 10 “mind-blowing” laps in the awesome 1996 Italian Forte Corsa or 1994 Arrows. Lunch, memorabilia and an F1 certificate are also included.  Find out more at http://www.racing-school.co.uk/driving/formula1.asp.

Go off-road at Silverstone

Think of Silverstone and you’ll usually picture the British Grand Prix, to which the circuit first played host in 1948. But Silverstone is also home to an exciting off-road experience, where one driver and up to two passengers can have a go in a Land Rover Defender, enjoying “vertigo-inducing drops, water-filled ravines, apparently unassailable ascents and axle-twisting obstacles”, perfect for dedicated thrill-seekers.
You get a 20-minute in-car briefing on circuit driving techniques and a demo lap by an instructor first, and then a 20-minute drive yourself, followed by a 10-minute de-brief. The 50-minute experience costs £75, and you can book online here http://www.silverstone.co.uk/experiences/driving-days/4x4-experience1/.

Get down and dirty in a digger

If big machines are your thing, then why not book a day driving a JCB, bulldozer, or articulated dumper truck?
The site http://www.experiencemad.co.uk/Muddy-Fun/ lets you to test your skills at the controls of some of the UK’s biggest construction giants. If, for example, you want to feel the earth move, then why not book the JCB digger driving day at one of three Diggerland locations in Castleford, Rochester or Exeter? The experience is held in groups of up to four people, and you learn how to dig holes and move earth, operating your own 8.5 ton machine. Sessions, which cost £105 and allow you to take along two spectators for no extra cost, last round 90 minutes including a safety briefing and introduction. If you want your friends to get involved too, then JCB dumper racing is available at four locations in Durham, Castleford, Rochester and Exeter, for £48 per person. The experience takes around two hours, and you take part in at least two race heats, followed by a Grand Final – if, of course, you qualify.

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