Every boy has dreams of being a racer. From taking a racing line around a roundabout, to dropping the clutch at a traffic light to get a jump on the oblivious competitor in the next lane. It’s probably not just guys either.
Not everyone gets to try themselves at the real thing though, and even fewer get are actually any good at it.
While those who can, do, those who can’t can now pop over to Stacey Bushes and get the next best thing at Simply Race.
Ten simulators with surrounding screens, rumbling seats, all-engrossing sound and force feedback steering wheels is the safest thing you’ll get to a race around any circuit in the world - and that safety was immediately apparent as soon as I left the pit lane.
I’m blaming the cold brakes and tyres for the out-of-control car spearing straight for the gravel bed at Redgate, but it was probably due to my inherent lack of racing aptitude.
“Everyone does it,” said Ben Turner, manager of Simply Race. And I did it a lot.
I knew the Donington Park circuit, I’ve been there plenty of times, I’ve watched enough races there from so many different series that I knew what was coming next. I just didn’t know when and how much to brake.
After a few excursions into the long grass on the outside of the Old Hairpin, I was ready to race. My competitor? A 14-year-old. Easy.
Turns out, my teenage opponent who isn’t yet old enough to drive was none other than Ginetta Junior Championship debutant William Tregurtha, from Shenley Brook End.
For my benefit I was given pole position, but it mattered little. As the lights went out, William was ahead of me. The lad took pity on me though. He let me out-brake him into the Foggy Esses, but in my haste, I blew my lead by the Melbourne Loop barely 10 seconds later as I opted to go a bit later on the brakes.
As William eventually stopped toying with me and showed what he’s capable of - a lap time fully 13 seconds quicker than mine - while I continued to lock the rears and send the car into a spin.
I began to find my way though. Every nudge of the kerb sent a rumble through my bum, I jumped with each gear shift and I felt the rear begin to step out as I hammered the brake pedal a little too hard. For all intents and purposes, I was racing with William around Donington.
When the chequered flag dropped, I suddenly snapped back into reality. No longer was I enclosed in the cockpit shell, but I was back in Stacey Bushes again, now fully aware that I was staring deeply into three monitors portraying a game.
But for those briefest of moments, I was a racing driver, and that’s something everyone should experience.