Palmer Motorsport Sensation

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Palmer Motorsport Sensation

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Review of "Palmer Motorsport Sensation"

published 22/08/2005 | nigeofnewbury
Member since : 24/03/2005
Reviews : 33
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"Racy ladies - and men too"

Have you seen those "Red Letter Day" adverts in Argos and other places advertising a day drivinga Ferrari or something similar ?
Have you fancied giving it a go but never got round to it ?
Well read on and I'll tell you about my day at the races......

A few weeks ago I was offered the chance to go to a Palmersport Motor Sensation day at Bedford aerodrome by my company. It was a last minute thing as the person who had been originally invited did not have a driving licence so the place passed on to me - I should have felt guilty at not doing any work towards this reward from our suppliers but ...... I didn't - and instead began to imagine myself on the podium at Monaco
spraying some of Bollinger28's champagne all over the cheering crowd !
It didn't quite work out like that as I shall explain in the following review.

~~~ What Is It ~~~
The Palmersport Motor Sensation day is a chance to drive a selection of (mostly) very fast cars in a safe environment. The cars vary from a formula 1 Jaguar to the off-road Nissan X-trail and you are encouraged to drive them to their limits (and yours !).

It is mostly used by companies as a corporate reward but individuals can also make bookings for themselves or small groups of people (e.g. birthday parties).
The larger the group, the bigger the discount you will receive.

Groups of up to 40 have the track exclusively to themselves - groups of between 1 and 20 share the track with other groups but this will not lessen your driving time or enjoyment as only 40 people are allowed on a single day i.e 2 groups of 20.

~~~ Restrictions ~~~
The website states that some people over 6ft 4" tall or over 18 stone in weight may have difficulty fitting into some of the cars and I would agree with that.
Also, you should remember to bring your driving licence with you and you must be over 21, although they will let you drive if you are at least 18 but at an extra cost.
If you forget your licence but can prove that you drove to the
aerodrome then they will let you drive so don't worry if you've got half way down the motorway and suddenly visualise your
licence still sitting on the dining room table !

~~~ Getting There ~~~
The day starts off at 8.30am but you should aim to arrive by 07:40 to enjoy the full English breakfast which is included in
the price.
I drove from the South and it took me just under 2 hours up the M1 and then cross country to Thurleigh airfield business park just outside Bedford.
I'd recommend that you make a note of the directions on the website as the aerodrome is not very well signposted.
Once you get there you'll find acres of parking as you would probably expect from an airfield.

~~~ Reception ~~~
On arrival you report to a reception desk where you need to confirm your name and produce your driving licence if
you have remembered to bring it.
You are then given a name sticker to wear and allocated to one of 2 teams for the day before being shown through
to the breakfast tables.
Breakfast is full English with toast and tea or coffee served at the table - quite impressive.

~~~ Safety ~~~
The staff emphasise that your safety is paramount and this is
reiterated throughout the day.
There are over 5 miles of track to drive on (split into smaller
circuits) with generous "run off" areas - which means that should you spin off the tarmac, you would have to travel large distances before colliding with any solid structures.

The day kicks off with a video introduction from Justin Wilson who helped set up the Palmersport brand and this doubles
up as both an explanation of the days events and also a safety film.

At this point your team are packed off into a minibus and led off to the first circuit by your allocated team leader.
Now then, I have driven minbuses on many occasions and been a passenger on a few more, but I have never seen
a minibus driven quite like this one - you feel like you are already in a racing car and it certainly warms you up for what to expect during the rest of the day !
This is also the point where, if like me, you are a little apprehensive, then the butterflies start to race around your stomach.

~~~ The Cars ~~~
On my visit we got to drive not one or two - but ALL of the following cars :-
- Caterham 7 - 286bhp, 0-60 in 3.6 secs, top speed 140mph
- Nissan 350Z - 287bhp, 0-60 in 5.9 secs, top speed 155mph
- Palmer Jaguar JP1 - 370bhp, 0-60 in 3.6 secs, top speed
180mph
- Renault Clio - 180bhp, 0-60 in 4.1 secs, top speed 148mph
- Formula Palmer Audi - 400bhp, 0-60 in 3.4 secs, top speed
165mph
- Nissan Pathfinder - 4x4
- Mitsubishi Evo VI - 280bhp, 0-60 in 4 secs, top speed 155mph

I won't bore you with all the technical details but my personal thoughts were :-
- how on earth can people drive a Caterham 7 on the public
roads ? These cars were skidding all over the place in the
drizzle ! Great fun though.
- the Nissan 350z was the tamest of all the cars and thank
goodness for traction control.
- the Jaguar JP1 was amazing; I'm doing 145mph into the bend
and my instructor is urging me to go faster !
- the Clio was the surprise of the day as I found myself entering
corners at over 70mph.
- the Palmer Audi which you get to drive "solo" and the Evo
which you drive on a skid pan - a real eye opener I can tell you.
- the Nissan Pathfinder was a real beast of a 4x4, it even drives
itself if left in 1st gear - amazing.
- the Evo was reserved for the skidpan and after working out
what a figure of 8 was I managed to get round the track
without hitting any more bollards ....

As you drive each car you are accompanied by an instructor who will attempt to coach you to drive to the best of your ability and then some. You don't have to take their advice and so long as you don't drive recklessly, they are happy to let you make all the decisions as to when to brake, accelerate, etc.

If you listen and act on their advice you will be rivalling Schumacher in performance - if like me, you wimp out and drive
like your going to the supermarket then you'll still enjoy the day but at a slightly slower pace !

The instructor gives you a mark at the end of each circuit which is used later on in the awards ceremony - your mark is based on your fastest lap, mechanical appreciation and style of driving.
This information is all computerised.

The cars do change frequently so you may not have the ones listed above in the future.

~~~ Lunch ~~~
The day was broken up by lunch which was a 3 course affair and waitress/waiter service.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the food and service as I expected a sort of transport cafe setup - thankfully this wasn't the case.
Starter was pate and toast, followed by sirloin steak with mushrooms and potato cakes, finished off with a chocolate cake pudding and coffee - scrumptious.

~~~ Awards Ceremony ~~~
At the end of the day (around 5pm) is the awards ceremony where the fastest individuals receive a plaque each and the fastest team receives a baseball cap each.

I was lucky enough to be in the fastest team despite my poor efforts placing me 37th out of 40 !!
Even the girl who was too scared to drive the first 3 cars managed to beat me.
Still, my daughter loves the Palmer Sport baseball cap ....but no bottles of bubbly for us mere mortals.

Everybody receives a leaving pack which is a full colour brochure of the cars you have drive plus computer printouts of your performance and a breakdown of your fastest lap time which is compared to that of the man himself - Justin Wilson.

~~~ What I Liked The Most ~~~
The whole day was awesome to be honest but some points which stand out are :-
- there is vey little hanging around whilst waiting to drive as the
staff are very slick and everything runs like clockwork without
feeling rushed.
- the staff themselves are fantastic, very witty and approachable
and obviously experienced drivers themselves.
- the instructors make you feel very safe even driving at speeds
which you would never normaly dream of doing.
- the cars were fantastic, varied and interesting, something for
everybody.
- a photographer takes your photo at some point during the day
and emails you the picture - all part of the service at no extra
cost

~~~ What I Didn't Like ~~~
Some of the cars had sequential gears which took a bit of getting used to but that was only a minor dislike on my part. Nobody else seemed to mind.

~~~ Summary ~~~
This was definitely something different and only made possible because the company picked up the tab but if you are tasked with arranging corporate events then I'd strongly recommend you consider this option. It's not just for men either - we had a large number of women in our group and they all enjoyed it too.

The day is well organized and the staff cannot be faulted and the cars were just great.

Overall, this day is listed in the top 5 of my entire life only pipped at the post by the birth of my 2 children, my second wedding, the infamous Hermitage barracks toga party and the day I lost my virginity.

Check out the website at www.motorpsortsensation.com


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Comments on this review

  • alistairr24 published 02/10/2005
    Interesting review, need pay a visit I think
  • LostWitness published 30/08/2005
    That sounds like a right larf!
  • HotBabes published 28/08/2005
    What a lovely day you had, these 'days' seem like so much fun. x
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Product Information : Palmer Motorsport Sensation

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Listed on Ciao since: 22/08/2005