Sometimes, travel, for a few minutes or another, just congeals into one big hedonistic thrill. I arrived in Valencia, Spain on the dime of Tour Spain and Valencia Tourism, to eat paella, drink great wine, and experience the Formula 1 race held there annually. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know anything about Formula 1, cared a bit less about it, and figured anybody could hop behind the wheel of those flashy cars, do a few laps, and win a trophy if they essentially didn’t screw up.
Then, this happened.
The Best Lap F1 x 3 Experience in Valencia, puts you next to a Formula 1 driver in a modified race car with 2 side seats, testing all of your preconceptions in the 1.8 seconds it takes to get to 97 kph (60 mph). That car, by the way, won the Formula 1 in Brazil in 2004, and would be driven by Felix Porteiro.
I like fast, going fast, and things that are survivable-ly dangerous; so by the time the two-step safety course came around I was practically one big goofy smile. The two main rules seem easy enough, simply lie very low into the seat in case of a flip, and, well, I was so excited I forget the other one. But, it’s not until you completely sign away your life – under any and all circumstances (and I mean any) – that you know two laps around the Circuit Valencia course are going to be fun. With that signature, I was bouncing up and down; a Formula 1 convert and man soon-to-be eating his words in the making.
- The photo above was taken by John O’Nolan; web designer, photographer, and overall awesome guy – thanks!
It’s not the top speed (~360kph) that make these cars so impressive but the acceleration in which they get to them. When you slide down into the car seat, it vaguely feels more like lying down into a coffin than sitting in an automobile. A twinge of claustrophobia sets in as the pit crew straps you in, mumbling a few words the helmets prevent you from understanding. By the time you can comprehend that inaudible mess, a few thumbs-up appear in your peripheral vision. Then you go. And unless you’ve been a jet fighter pilot or partied with Keith Richards, it’s faster than you’ve ever accelerated in your life.
The acceleration is so powerful that I could feel the blood draining from my fingers tips, only to return when the car slowed on turns. The occasional times I decided to peek left or right, my head was stuck in that position until the gears were lowered. When I hopped out of the car about 3 and a half minutes later I felt like I had run the course on foot, not by car.
It’s nearly impossible to leave the experience without acquiring some new appreciation for Formula 1 drivers. Whether it’s the average 3 kilos per race they lose due to dehydration or the incredible strength and stamina required not to succumb to 3-5 G-forces, feeling in this case is believing.
(Those of you reading via email will need to click here to view the video below.)
- PromoTourismo so elegantly captured, among other moments, me speechless after my F1 experience. Check them out PromoTourismo on YouTube.
A ride on the Best Lap F1 x 3 Experience is on par with skydiving as far as adventure travel experiences go, the closest experience I can compare it to. The kind of senseless fun that one relives over and over in their imaginations to capture a slice of the excitement even weeks later. The Best Lap F1 x 3 Experience is currently developing their website but has enough contact information up if you’re interested to learn more or give it a 750 horsepower whirl yourself.
You can see more photos of the track, cars, and the Formula 1 race in my album here.