Written on: 13/11/2012
I was bought the 2hr Intro to drifting by my other half, fortunately she managed to get it through Groupon..... I would not have been happy if she had paid the full £169 price.
The course was advertised as an intro to drifting at Brands Hatch...
Surprise no.1 was yes it is at the Brands Hatch Circuit but not on the race circuit.... but in a car park attached to the Hailwood Cafe - disappointment :-(
Having been to similar driving experiences before i was prepared for some standing around but not quite as much as we had.
The briefing was short to say the least (although I'm not sure what else they would need to do in comparison with the experience as the most dangerous part is probably the passenger ride. We were informed that we would have 3 goes in the car to 1. do donuts 2. do figure of eights 3. put in to practice what we had learned around a small slalom course, plus a passenger ride around the big course for a couple of laps.
We (around 25 punters) were ushered outside to a small area and held back by the red and white tape - fair enough, it wasn't raining, but some seating and shelter would be nice. Taking a quick look at the staff the whole set up would be better if they were wearing corporate jackets to identify them - would make the hard operation of organising everyone look slicker. So 25 of us, 3 cars and starting from the top of the list the first 3 in the cars and off they went. At the same time starting at the bottom of the list 1 car and driver for the passenger rides. Yes the cars looked a bit worse for wear but i can understand why, so long as they drift which is the theme for the event... There was a very nice M3 BMW in white just sitting there (Boss' car perhaps which did go around the track with just the driver in it (Boss?) for a bit and then was parked up again) and anothe Bmw that joined in the event at the last session. If I had paid for an additional passenger ride for my partner then would have been miffed if she only went in the normal car and not the nice one.
Anyway, 3 circuits set up for donuts and 3 cars on circuit at one time - good so far. Instruction from drivers was good - they show you what to do, explain and then help - nice guys - no phone issues, all attentive. I am an ex-kart racer (proper karts) and adapted quite well to the car control but tried to straight line everything - not the idea of drifting. My coach explained what I was doing, I corrected it and all was good. These days are typical in that you get out of it what you put in to it! listen and learn, watch and learn and practice hard! My only gripe was that all 3 sessions were far to short - maybe 5 minutes each - meaning a total of around 15 minutes in a car plus an extra 3 minutes for the passenger ride! Now you know this you know what to expect....
Fortunately the weather stayed dry albeit colder as the afternoon went on, so take a jacket and if you have your own crash helmet (I did) take it with you - much nicer than keep swapping with everyone else... The whole experience took around 3 hours in total.
In summary - expect a lot of waiting, bring a coat, don't expect to have an in depth experience this is (or should be advertised as) a taster session to try and do donuts, figure of 8's and 3 runs through a very short slalom course (I did get out of first gear once.... just!), be attentive and give it your all when you sit in the car, smile and enjoy.
My personal feeling is that if they halved the amount of punters per show, say 12 and ran this in a smaller window it would be better all round. they could still get the 24 done in 4 hours but just in two groups. Would mean less waiting around for us and more frequent driving. We were there from around 1pm to 4.30pm - a bit more than the 2 hours.
Would I use them again if i hadn't done the intro bit already - yes! The guys were friendly, the drivers knew their stuff, the passenger ride was what it is all about and something to aim for perhaps.
Disorganised??? NO! To an outsider it may look like this, but everyone got their 3 sessions plus the passenger ride. There were a few tyre changes needed but that is the nature of burning rubber....
So all in all worth the Groupon value but not the full value in my opinion...
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