the motorsport sensation at the bedford autodrome

a real experience

the motorsport sensation at the bedford autodrome

PURPOSE-BUILT RACING VENUES THAT ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. ANDY ENRIGHT REPORTS ON ONE OF THE BEST PALMERSPORT'S BEDFORD AUTODROME

PURPOSE-BUILT RACING VENUES THAT ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. ANDY ENRIGHT REPORTS ON ONE OF THE BEST PALMERSPORT'S BEDFORD AUTODROME

Taking to the track is all well and good if you own a BMW M3, a Lotus Elise or a Porsche 911 but subjecting my own car to an afternoon's hard lapping would see it looking very tired indeed. What if a track day existed whereby you could inflict your leaden right boot on somebody else's car? That sounds more the ticket and its one that The Motorsport Sensation - a driving event targeted at corporate customers - readily offers. Logic would dictate that such cars would probably be modestly powered, with restrictive rev limiters and a nannying instructor tasked to prevent Joe Public from bending the company metal. Not a bit of it.

The Vauxhall VX220 Turbo is belatedly gaining recognition as one of the finest performance cars you can buy full stop. Winner of Car magazine's 2003 Performance Car of The Year, the VX220 Turbo knocked supercars such as the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, the Noble M12 GTO 3R and the Porsche 911 GT3 clean out of contention. Walk into the vehicle preparation workshop at the Bedford Autodrome and you'll be greeted with a long row of liveried VX220Ts, each one fettled by a team of factory trained technicians to ensure it's in no way tired, damaged or otherwise off colour.

Aside from the racy Vauxhall, you can take to the track in an all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, a Renault Clio Cup race car, a Caterham Superlight and there are even be-winged Formula Palmer Audis and the ultra special Palmer Jaguar JP1 on hand. A two seater, mid engined sports prototype racer, this car has been designed to evoke a Le-Mans style experience. Powered by a 3.0 litre V6 Jaguar engine developed by Cosworth, it develops over 250bhp and performance is gut wrenchingly vivid. Given a long enough straight, the Palmer Jaguar will top 180mph and will accelerate to 60 in just over 3 seconds, and on to 100mph in 7 seconds. But with your instructor seated alongside, you'll have all the help you need to safely utilise that power.

The great thing about the Bedford Autodrome facility is the fact that it's modern and developed especially with this sort of activity in mind. Unlike so many race tracks, you won't have to hang around for hours for another group to complete their laps before your session kicks off. The complex includes four main circuits, that can be run concurrently, amalgamated to form a 3.6 mile "Gran Turismo" circuit, or used in one of no fewer than 34 different configurations. Nowhere in the world can such a variety of tracks be enjoyed at one site. What's more, the surfaces are all consistently smooth low noise stone mastic asphalt that's grippy enough to ensure some exciting lateral g-forces and guarantees safe braking into the slower corners. The tracks are also designed with enormous run-off areas should you inadvertently 'go agricultural' during a hot lap, although there are one or two corners where your close attention is most definitely required.

Even if the circuit driving doesn't appeal, you can get arguably just as much excitement at far more modest speeds in one of the Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 vehicles that can take to the mud of the off road course. There is also a kart track and customers can book a passenger ride in a special two seater Formula Palmer Audi racing car driven by a resident hotshoe. As long as you're under 6 '4" and 18 stone you'll probably fit.

During your Motorsport Sensation day, each circuit is run individually. Each circuit too has its own pit area and hospitality accommodation, where guests can relax and talk through how they could have been a contender between rounds! Keep an eye open and you might even spot Formula One driver Justin Wilson on site. He trained as an instructor here and still enjoys popping in to get his hands dirty from time to time. Don't try to beat his times though. Take it from us, you will be humbled.

The Motorsport Sensation works so well for corporate customers because it smacks of professionalism. Many large companies don't want to risk booking a tin pot operation that skimps on safety and reflects badly on them. If you want the full five star, bells and whistles corporate track day, this is it.







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