As you can tell from the titles of this blog post, I will be telling you all about the time I did the Top Gear Track Experience. As a car fan I obviously enjoy (or rather enjoyed) the car program Top Gear and have watched it for many years. In 2014 I found out that the Top Gear test track was going to be opened to the public for track days. For my 21st birthday I got given the track day experience to drive around the Top Gear Star In a Reasonably Priced Car track. There are other options such as driving the Ariel Atom, having a hot lap with The Stig in a Bentley or the 4×4 off road course.
I drove down to Surrey with my Dad and had a fantastic couple of days. It is such a beautiful area and as it would take 4 hours to get from Manchester to Guildford we decided it would be better to drive down the night before and stay over. We stayed in The Cranley Hotel which was 15 minutes drive from the Aerodrome. It was a lovely Hotel and very well priced. The next morning we arrived at the track at 9am and were taken by minibus into the hangar/studio where they film the Top Gear episodes. Upon arrival I was given a pass with a USB dongle on it which was used to record a video of my lap. You are allowed around 30-60 minutes to explore the studio. I got to look at some of the star cars (cars that have featured in various Top Gear Challenges over the years), look around the studio and sit on the iconic seats where Clarkson, Hammond and May used to sit when doing segments of the show such as “the news” and “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”. There is also a row of consoles that run a simulator of the Top Gear track for participants to have a practice on before doing the real thing.
When my name was called I met with my instructor and was taken to the Kia Cee’d. To get to the runway, which is the start of the track, I had to drive around the studio and then wait for the other cars that were finishing their laps. At first I got to do a practice lap to drive around the track a bit slower and get used to the car and the track. Then it was time. Sitting at that iconic start line on that iconic track of my favourite TV show is such a surreal feeling. My “hot lap” ,which was probably more korma than vindaloo, was epic. I can honestly say I have never done anything so adrenaline pumping and exhilarating ever (before or since). The car roared around the track grunting and growling, hanging on for grip as the tyres screamed in pain all around me. I hooned it around that track in a time of 1:51 (it felt faster).
To anyone who is a car fan or a fan of Top Gear (or both) I would 100% whole heartedly recommend you do it. It doesn’t cost much more than an ordinary track day, with the added bonus of it being around the Top Gear track. I had an absolute blast!