Track days are intimidating things, it doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie, semi-regular or a familiar face to the marshals, chances are that you’ll have a degree of nervousness as you trundle down that pit lane for the first time that day. Being the editor-in-chief at GTspirit, I’ve been lucky enough to drive around dozens of circuits around the world, but those are for press drives where there I would often find myself alone on a circuit with Le Mans winners, Formula 1 drivers or development engineers mentoring me about the characteristics of the car and the dream lines through each corner and over every undulation. There are technical briefings, lead-follow laps, mechanics to keep everything in check, and even sessions with telemetry breakdowns.
A public track day could not be more different, it’s all on you. Oh yeah, and you’re probably in your car with little/no track insurance and there are dozens of other cars on track, all jostling for an apex. It only takes a minute on YouTube or a scroll through IG Reels to stumble across a catastrophic track day fail. That being said, as I head out of the pits at Silverstone and onto the full GP layout, I’m not terrified. I’m not worried about a hot Corsa with a hot-headed driver dive bombing me into the first corner, and I don’t have my wing mirrors full of small displacement hot hatches with something to prove for a TikTok video.
I’m heading out onto a Pirelli P Zero Experience. I’m in my very own 997 Porsche 911 GT3 and I’ve probably got one of the least powerful or valuable cars on circuit, but I’m not afraid as the circuit is so big that it’s not a case of trying to keep out of my own way. The event is exclusive too: to keep the open pit lane format enjoyable for all, Pirelli restrict ticket sales, and to keep quality high, only a certain calibre of car is allowed to participate. Oh boy, the cars… with a Senna, a couple of Huayras, an SF 90 and countless Porsche GT cars (including GT4 RSs) pounding around the track, you would pay just to be a spectator at this event.
To ensure I was making the most of my time and extracting the most from my humble GT3, I jumped at the opportunity to have a bonafide GT3 class race driver jump in the passenger seat and guide me with his wisdom and experience. This was and eye opening experience, not only as I am far slower than I even thought I was, but also as I had just swapped my Pirelli SottoZero winter tyres for a set of Trofeo Rs and had no idea where the limits of this fresh rubber lay.
Having learnt that the Trofeos are a game-changer on track, particularly in the context of the SottoZero Winters I used for my sighting laps, and worked out where I was going, I enjoyed a 15 minute stint on track before I headed back in to adjust my pressures and… listen to a Q&A with Christian Horner, naturally. Jumping ahead to lunch in the BRDC (a delicious BBQ and buffet) RedBull presented another surprise, a demonstration with their 2012 Championship winning RB8 F1 car. Not only was the F1 car’s V8 bark stunning participants, the car then pulled off a few impressively donuts to add to the barbecue smoke. Spectacular stuff.
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Driving my own can on track was one thing, but the P Zero Experience has more to offer. Manufacturers Ferrari and McLaren brought their latest V6-hybrid supercars for participants to take out on track, Pagani arrived with a Huayra BC and Greystone GT a McLaren 570 GT4 car for passenger hot laps. Furthermore, the Ferrari Roma, Maserati Grecale and new Grandturismo were offered for road test drives. If this was all not enough to elevate the day head and shoulders above the title of ‘Track Day’, Pirelli offer complimentary massages, barista coffee and, most importantly, unlimited gelato to keep you cool off track. These events are hosted internationally at circuits including (but not limited to) Nurburgring GP, Red Bull Ring and Mugello. What are you waiting for?