Written on: 12/04/2012 by Hb-90
Let me start from the beginning. I was bought a drift day driving experience through Groupon with Allstars driving academy at Brands Hatch.
We were instructed to turn up at 12.30 for sign in and a safety brief, ready to start our experience at 1pm. We turned up on time, was given no direction to where the experience was, had no one greet us when we eventually found the site and there appeared to be no one in charge. None of the other customers had a clue what was happening and hadn't yet been greeted either.
When we eventually managed to sign in with Nial (Allstars co-owner) we were told that there would be a 45 - 50 min delay as one of the cars had broken down. This would have been fine, accidents happen. However, the event was held out of an office attached to Hailswood Bar and restaurant (which was closed) the burger van outside was closed and the cafe at the top of the hill was closed. With nowhere to get refreshments or sit down we were forced to stand outside in the rain and wait for our briefing which arrived at 1.10pm.
The safety - there was none. The safety brief was Nial telling us we would have 3 laps with a driver, then an instructed session doing doh-nuts, figure of eight and then an oval circuit. Then he asked us to say what car we drove. In the briefing he actually told us 'dont put your seatbelt on as you wont be in the car long enough'. Helmets were provided, 2 of each size, S, M or L; however these were poorly organised and scattered around the standing area.
The standing area was taped of using red and white plastic tape but there was no barrier between the public and these cars, which if malfunctioned could have veered off into the customers.
The cars - on the website they claim to have a 350z, skyline, ps13 and a subaru imprezza. In actuality they had 2 350z running continuously the whole day, shared between 30 people in each session, if you ignore the fact they had to have tyres and fuel replaced as they frequently burst / ran out of fuel driving. The ps13 was amateur built, beaten and battered, with a skirt hanging off by the end and was constantly being taken off of the track to be repaired. The skyline was taken off of track to be repaired as a significant amount of smoke came pouring out of the bonnet. Throughout the day the organisers were phoning their friends to come and provide their amateur built cars, which arrived and left after an hour or so due to breakages and malfunctions.
The experience - by 2.30pm i managed to set foot in one of their friends cars. A black skyline. The experience was great, all 1 min 47 seconds of it. My father videoed the thing start to finish, from feet off tarmac and back on. 1 and a half hours of waiting for 1min 47sec. After seeing every car come off of the track to be repaired or leave until half 3 some of the customers hadn't even had that. One poor guy from Wales didn't even get driven around until 4pm. At 4.15 we eventually had to talk to the man with the clipboard and list of names to ask how long we would have to wait. He said he couldn't guarantee but he though another half an hour at least. This was just as i saw another tyre about to burst on the one remaining 350z. There were still people waiting from the 11am slot to have a drive.
Organisation - poor to say the least. There wasn't any attempt at organisation. There was no spare fuel, no spare tyres, 2 cars to share between 30 or so customers, no professional mechanical set up and when queries were brought to James or Nials attention they looked like they simply didn't care and frequently said they couldn't do anything about it.
You may ask why i used the word amateur and professional, I am a recently finished graduate with a Motorsport Engineering Degree, having built classic race cars and attended numerous race events where i have taken part in the organisation and running of bikes and cars. Allstars driving academy is a group of amateur racers, possibly hobbyists who thought they could make money out of giving the public 20 min in a car doing doh-nuts in a car park. No organisation, very shoddy equipment and diabolical customer care. Brands Hatch should be ashamed to allow such an activity happen within their premises, Groupon should be ashamed to have them as part of their experience days and anyone who was even considering them should stop now, and if already bought they need to get their money back.