As a present, we’d bought my son a day’s tuition in rally driving and had gone along to watch.
It was a cold, rainy day. The course was on a disused airfield. It was completely flat and the wind howled across the landscape, but we were relatively warm and dry. Spectators were given use of a portacabin with access to as much tea and coffee as we cared to make.
Neil had a great day, throwing the car around the curvy course which was partially on gravel and partially on mud. He got some great skids going and perfected the art of going round corners sideways. All good practice for the journey home.
At the end of the day, the instructor asked if any of the spectators would like a lap of the course with him driving.
I stuck my hand up along with four or five others.
I was the last to go.
By now, it was dark.
I was given some overalls and a crash helmet. The instructor strapped me into the passenger seat so tightly that I couldn’t move.
The only lights were the car’s headlights, They seemed very dim to me. And as I’d climbed into car I was very aware of the scratches and dents in the bodywork.
It felt like a coffin.
We took off!
No, it was more a mewing noise, not at all manly.
I didn’t care.
I could see nothing through the rainswept windscreen except a ghostly world that vibrated crazily, occasionally flashed and slid past at crazy angles.
It was like being in a spin dryer. One that went side to side and up and down as well as spinning like a crazy top.
The car was not designed to be comfortable, no nicely upholstered interior and a rock hard seat, in which I was strapped to within an inch of my life and bare metal.
My right knee continually smacked against the gear lever. My left, thudded against the side of the car. My head crashed against the roof of the car. I was being bounced all over the place.
I was in pain.
I was scared.
My bowel control was tenuous.
I just wanted it to stop! No, I PRAYED that it would stop, to every God I could think of and some I made up.
But, hey, I’m a man and men enjoy these things.
They don’t whimper and cry. That’s for girls, not MEN.
Eventually it stopped. We’d completed the course in one piece and returned to where all the others were waiting..
“Did you enjoy that?” asked the instructor.
I grinned feebly (actually it was more a clenched teeth grimace).
“Yeah, it was great” I almost sobbed the words.
I went to release the seat belts.
The instructor stopped me and grinned.
“As it’s the last run of the day and these tyres are shot anyway let’s finish with something special”.
He started the engine and immediately spun the car into a doughnut.
For those that don’t know, that is where the car just spins round and round like a Catherine wheel.
My world collapsed. Everything moved in a ghostly blur. The noise was ear drum piercing. The car was surrounded by smoke from the tyres. The smell of burning rubber was making my eyes water, but at least it masked other smells.
After 300 years it stopped.
The instructor undid the seatbelts and reached across to open the passenger door.
“Be careful when you get out’ he said.
I couldn’t wait to get out.
I jumped out.
But the world was still spinning.
I fell over.
The spectators laughed.
What a doughnut!