We’ve all got a bucket list of amazing and inspirational things to do. Some could include exotic and amazing destinations such as the Northern Lights or an amazing sporting event such as watching a World Cup Final.
OK you got me, they’re both on mine but in that list of adventures includes a track day experience.
I know what you’re thinking, why not purchase a red letter day or a track day experience for a present. Honestly I didn’t think it was something that I ever wanted to achieve, in my mind once I’d experienced driving an amazing car I’d be completely disappointed on returning to my Kia Sedona. My feelings are that sometimes in life goals aren’t meant to be achieved.
How wrong could I be!
Working with Mercedes on a family review of their E220D AMG Line, the first full day of a trial included a drive down to Mercedes World in Weybridge, Surrey. We were due to experience first hand, the elegance and poise of a V8 around their skid pan track but also the immense power and braking around their purpose built track.
Having set off at around 4am, the drive was long and tiring but also beautiful and very easy. All of the beast’s (That’s what we called the E220D) driving aids coming into full affect to keep the drive easy and safe. Arriving in time for bacon rolls and coffee (result), the Palmers were fully amazed at how enormous and impressive the whole complex was.
Rows and rows of Mercedes were lined up outside in an almost soldier esq formation ready to do battle on the track, road of off road. Luckily I remembered the number of parking bay but I’ll tell you why later. Huge lettering directed us into the a huge open spaced atrium with cars of yesteryears laid out for all the see. I was fully expecting the track day and completely forgot about the experience part, and experience is a perfect way of describing the off track activities.
You so Mercedes World really is a World full with everything Mercedes. From stories of the inception and amalgamation of Daimler and Benz to the latest technology used in the Mercedes Petronius formula one car laid out as an art exhibition.
Sign posts to the restaurant, museum, simulators, cinema, track, kiddie track, 4×4 off road route and of course the track were everywhere and that’s where our experience began.
I’d like to start by offering my thanks to my instructor for the morning. His calming voice and assertive instructions ensure that I didn’t leave anything out there on the track. In a few hours of driving, I literally pushed the car to the limit of my current abilities and beyond.
As we waited with fellow bloggers including Tom the Unlikely Dad, Al from the Dad Network, Giles from YouTheDaddy the time to step up and get in was now. I waited no time at all and was quickly taken to what I initially thought was a little disappointing.
For me this is a family estate car that I could easily imagine a roof box or a number of bikes being taken on a camping holiday or a trip to centre parcs. Again how wrong could I have been.
Little did I know, I was sat in an E63, V8, 6.2 Litre Estate Car.
First stop was learning about the car. Now I say we here as Bethany was in the back, camera in hand trying desperate to capture some footage. With shiny leather seats and the skid pan as well as the super fast corners on the track, most of the footage was unusable. hehe.
Looking back at the video of my experience, it looks very slow and uneventful. I think that’s testimony to the instructor as there was no doubt that I wasn’t afraid to trust the car’s huge brakes . I was also reminded that while the brakes were huge, I still needed to use them as the accelerator pedal really was pushed through the carpet.
One thing that I learnt from the track experience was the amount of assistance you get as a driver at all times throughout the braking and traction controls. The difference between them being on and switched off when on the wet and simulated ice sections was immense. If you’ve ever spun a car around twice on sheet ice you’ll know what I mean….
Bethany was another to test her driving abilities on the under 17’s driving experience. While I was taken around the track again, she was testing out her skills around their specially created course with her very competent instructor. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to take any pictures as it’s far away from the intimidating main track, however Beth was the proud owner of a driving license! Too cool.
We had the option of taking the latest 4×4 models around the off-road track but not being a fan of heights and having heart palpitations at the thought of some of the near impossible declines, Mrs P happily stepped up at the alternative. Not to be left of fast thrilling rides, the Mercedes AMG GT R was warmed up to the envy of everyone there.
The AMG GT R is a 585 hp 4-litre twin-turbo V8 beast and can clock 0 to 62 mph in as little as 3.6 seconds. My wife being taken around the track by the expert in the £143k super car! Jealous much.
The Gullwing Bistro
As you can imagine, after the experience we were all pumped up. Adrenaline was flowing and we all just needed a chill! Thankfully that’s exactly what we all did in the Gullwing Bistro. A three course meal for all the family including a specially crafted menu that wasn’t inspired by a how to prepare nuggets by microwave cook book.
As Bethany has been having adult meals for a while now, it was easy to forget how poor the choices for toddlers on a day out can be. Luckily we didn’t have that problem and the food and desserts were absolutely amazing.
The wife thought the Cesar salad to start was the main meal! Haha, didn’t stop us finishing the desserts though.
The Mercedes Museum
Being up on the top floor meant we had the pleasure of being taken down through the showroom/museum with our guide but first let me tell you about the simulator room.
I’ve never experienced anything as amazing as this in my life. Full and mid-size replica formula one cars, both accessible or not, with panoramic screens and full real life controls. Amazing! I wish we had longer as I would have definitely been in one. For quite a while.
We had the best tour guide to take us through the history of Mercedes exhibition but first we started with the best car ever made, the Mercedes SLS. I loved this since the first time I saw it on Top Gear and at the front of the grid at Formula 1 events as the safety car. Any car that can be a safety car for those machines is no slouch.
There were fascinating talks about the various bikes and automobiles throughout the history of Mercedes but the cherry on the top was of course, the 300 SLGullwing! Such a beautiful car and such amazing history. This car was apparently owned by James Martin!
No family day is complete without the obligatory sleeping child picture. Today was no exception with Dorothy completely out of action after all that excitment. Berny the Mercedes Bear keeping her very snuggly.
We all had an absolutely amazing day and I was gutted to leave. I was right in thinking that experiencing one of my bucket list things would be depressing as I had such a good day from the start to the finish. However, it’s made me realise that this is only the start and that bring able to have the Mercedes World Driving Experience is actually the start of it all. With vintage events and amazing events there’s a good chacne that we’ll be back very soon to experience it all over again.