story by: Ashraf Parker
Driving a supercar has always been number one on my bucket list.
I was researching for some time on ways to get my hands on one,
without a R1 million safety deposit. Fortunately, I managed to
stumble on the only chance any average joe can experience the
thrills and frills of driving a supercar around our famous Killarney
Mind you, this experience is not cheap either – ranging
from R1999 to R4299, depending on how many cars you want to drive.
I made up my mind… there’s no point in doing this
in half measures, so I went for the maximum experience which would
let me experience 4 supercars from the fleet of the day, 3 laps
each. I set my savings account in motion, and 6 months later,
I was ready to make my booking!
Before the event, the cars which would be available on the day
were communicated. Although not the latest models, it was enough
to get my pulse racing at the thought of driving these beasts
– Nissan GTR. Ferrari 430. Lamborghini Gallardo. Porche
911 GT3. Mclaren MP4-12C! I was as excited as a kid in a candy
Needless to say I could not sleep well the night before the event,
and was a bit groggy in the morning. But it was nothing that an
energy drink couldn’t fix, and before I knew it, we were
off to the track for the 10am start.
When we got to Killarney, I immediately noticed something missing.
Something big. The Mclaren! I was told that some *@#$%! managed
to crash it the day before in Joburg. Then I also discovered that
someone wrecked the clutch on the Porsche. So although my options
were limited, I was still as excited as ever, and raring to go.
I also noticed that they arranged some cones on the main and back
straights in a chicane arrangement to limit your speed. Now for
My first drive was in the Nissan GTR. Got in, had a look at the
cool interior with Gran Turismo displays and lots of switches,
and before I knew it, a racing driver next to me was asking “do
you know how to start this thing?”. I started the beast
up, engaged first gear, and proceeded to the pit exit. Pulling
away, the GTR’s reputation of brutal acceleration was verified…it
generates G-force with such ease I was in disbelief.
Because of the complex electronics, it handles like a car in a
game. No matter what you do, this thing will get you through a
corner, really fast. It sounds great too, but the ease at which
you can drive this thing around a circuit stuck with me. I managed
to do 3 laps without feeling like I really challenged it’s
Next on the list was the Lamborghini Gallardo. In contrast, the
interior was not as organized as the GTR. Switches and buttons
are all over the place, and the well-designed gear shift paddles
in the GTR were replaced by odd, L-shaped stalks in the Lambo.
What’s worse, the accelerate and brake pedals are not positioned
in line with your seat, so you have to sit at an angle to the
left to be able to press them!
It didn’t get much better out on the track either –
it understeers noticeably, gear changes are not responsive, and
the racing driver next to me was being a nanny. But I get the
point of this car…it looks great, and sounds even better
than it looks. An awesome experience nonetheless.
Then the highlight of my day…highlight of my driving life
actually, as I stepped into the Ferrari. I have waited for this
moment since I was a little boy, driving my toy Ferraris on the
floor (like many of you out there did as well). And I was not
disappointed! From the time the big V8 roared into action, I had
one very very large smile on my face!
The interior is awesome, the acceleration is awesome, but the
cornering is even more awesome. You know how journalists always
say how you feel connected with the Ferrari, like “you and
the machine are one”? Well I finally understand what they
Even though I have never driven a Ferrari before then, I knew
immediately how much steering input, throttle response and braking
I had to apply to navigate each corner optimally. Weird, but that’s
exactly how it feels. It encourages you to go faster, push yourself
to corner better at each turn. It just feels like its communicating
with you through the controls. Sadly, all good things come to
an end, and I had to wave goodbye to the yellow Ferrari eventually.
But definitely not with a sad face.
Due to the Mclaren and Porsche being out of commission for the
day, I got the chance to experience something else out of this
world – a 2 lap-shotgun ride in the Supercharged Ariel Atom,
driven by a UK racing driver. Now for the few that are not familiar
with the Supercharged Atom, there’s only a few things you
need to know – it weighs about 500kg, it has a 2l Supercharged
Honda engine, 310bhp, and does 0-100 in a face-bending 2.5 seconds!
It looks like some scaffolding with wheels on it, but gives you
an adrenaline rush like very few other things can.
It generates such brutal acceleration, that my helmet was attempting
to pull itself off my head. And my face was trying to give itself
botox at the same time. All this, and a supercharger positioned
against your ear. “Unreal” with some expletives is
the only thing I can say to describe the experience. There are
just not suitable enough words in the English dictionary!
As the day came to an end, I left Killarney with a sense of fulfillment.
Bucket list item ticked! And ready for when the experience becomes
available again, with an empty savings account waiting to be filled.
If you ever get the chance to experience a day like this, don’t
think about it. Just do it!