Thursday, 28 March 2013

Rally Driving Experience with Langley Park Rally School

Hello all, I expect you all know what rallying is so I won't bore you with a background to the activity but what you might not be aware of is that there are firms in the UK that will take anyone with a UK driving license, put them behind the wheel and give them a taste of what rallying is all about for a small amount of money, (£40).

Langley Park Rally School Overview

Langley Park Rally School, based in Essex, is such a firm who cater to beginners and intermediate rally drivers by offering a range of events to suit each and I attended one of their half day, taster experiences on 9th February this year - and here is a video of my afternoon.

 Video Produced by Langley Park Rally School for Customers

The Rally Experience

The session was arranged into three parts:

1. Three laps in a rear wheel drive car.
2. Three laps in a front wheel drive car.
3. One 'white knuckle' passenger lap with a professional rally instructor.

While waiting for your next activity you can watch proceedings from outside or from the comfort of their lounge or cafe which reside in pre-fabricated, Portacabin type buildings beside the course.

By way of souvenirs and embellishments they give you a video, a certificate and a score card marked by the instructor on your rally driving ability. My scores were just above average: apparently I did slightly better in the front wheel drive which surprised me as I felt I was going a lot faster and had more fun in the rear wheel drive, (though perhaps that's because I've recently taken up drifting which is always done in RWDs).

Itinerary from Langley Park Rally School

From the Langley Park Rally School website, I quote:

"Enjoy approximately 2 1/2 hours at our venue and experience an introduction to the thrills of rallying where you will have the opportunity to drive at high speed on a loose surface in two of our fully prepared rally cars; one front wheel drive and one rear wheel drive. You will share your rally experience with other drivers on the day.

The instructor will introduce you to the key features and controls of the car and will talk you through what skills you will be taught out on the track. The bulk of the tuition is carried out in the car so you can get the most amount of time in the car. An intercom system is built in to the car to enable you to talk to the instructor as you drive.

Then, the moment you've been waiting for, driving the car on the track. The first lap will be used for you to familiarise yourself with the track. You will then have another 2 laps in this car of the 1 1/2 mile stage negotiating your way through cones and tyres at high speed. You will experience power slides and handbrake turns. After you have finished, the instructor will fill out a score sheet, rating your performance in the rally car. You will then have a break before your session of 3 laps in the second car.

Once all the driving sessions are complete, you will be strapped in to the passenger seat while the instructor gets their own back! You will experience a white knuckle ride on a "hot lap" with the instructor driving."

My Verdict

The weather was pretty awful, (as it has been all winter) and perhaps that forced them to cut down on some of the manoeuvres I was hoping to do. But this was a shame because while I had fun, I think it could have been a bit more exciting had the odd handbrake turn or power slide been thrown in, (they weren't). As it stands, it was a pleasant afternoon, sliding around in muddy conditions and I did learn a little bit more about controlling a car in snow or on very slippery roads.

As a production though, I think the hosts went above and beyond the call of duty to make the day a memorable one for their customers and with regards to the overall 'experience', amenities and souvenirs it was a top notch event. The video above was one such souvenir which was available for a nominal sum, (I think it was an extra £20). It was produced entirely by Langley Park Rally School and I think they've really nailed how to produce a high quality rendition of the day that customers will want to keep and share as I'm doing now, (which is great publicity for them too). They've obviously hired someone competent on the production and editing which makes all the difference.

My overall impression was positive: Langley Park Rally School have the whole customer experience down to a tee, they provide great value, good amenities, have friendly staff - and obviously they score top marks for souvenirs. It might be worth going back in a few months when the weather is better.