Fantastic Racing, Fantastic Experience!
I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to join a Fantastic Racing day at Kyalami. I arrived feeling a tad nervous, mostly because I didn’t know who I’d end up with on track. Kyalami is an amazing circuit on which to race and with its history, being able to say you’ve driven a proper race car around the track is something to treasure – definitely something you must put on your bucket list! I walked in on a very busy day and made a bee line towards the cars themselves. They certainly looked the part, and my excitement grew at the prospect of taking one of these single seaters around the famous Kyalami circuit! The cars are Reynard built chassis. They make around 450hp as they are raced in the American Barber Dodge Series, but the local cars have been detuned for use with novice drivers. Nevertheless, there’s more than enough power to make driving one a truly fun experience! It’s interesting to note that these are the same cars used in the Indy Car feeder series that produced the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya.
First up was the drivers’ briefing with the extremely helpful Rainer Ferenczy. He went over the lines to be used throughout the circuit, as well as giving the drivers a clear indication of what they could expect if things went wrong. Rainer comes from a karting background and did a lot work with the VW Driving Academy. This experience showed as he kept everyone calm as they got prepared for the first session. Everyone had to ‘suit-up’ in full racing gear and I’m sure each participant felt the part of a real racing driver! I was in the second session, so I got to watch how everyone went and how well Renier managed quite a large field of inexperienced drivers. It was actually extremely well organised, and besides a spin or two there were no incidents and everyone seemed to truly enjoy themselves!
I was out next and Leanne helped everyone get prepared, with a smile that never left her face all day. She really made us feel relaxed and ready to have fun! I settled myself into the car and made myself at home in new surroundings. Once you’re strapped in you feel “racy” immediately. Sitting that close to the ground is always fun! The cars have a sequential gearbox, which does take a lap or so to get used to but it’s a crash box that you can be quite aggressive with – once you’re comfortable! Rainer asked us to give each other some space and especially to be careful and make sure to let each other through. A nose cone on one of the Fantastic Racing cars costs 55k! Not a cheap prang! Thus I gave the novices their space until they let me through.
There was one delay in my session, though, as one of the novices did manage to get a car into the barriers. The car looked rather the worse for wear when parked in the pits later and the rear right tyre and suspension looked very bent… That’s why you can never be a cowboy in these cars – if you haven’t been on track in a proper race car, they aren’t the same animals as a road car at all! Once we restarted I relaxed into the drive, and started to really enjoy the car. It’s a bit heavier than the local Formula VW machines and handles on track very well – it’s perhaps be a bit more driver friendly. I found the cars a joy to drive and loved the feeling of getting some clear space and really pushing around the famous Kyalami circuit. The day was a truly wonderful experience, especially at Kyalami. Bearing in mind it cost to rent the track, Fantastic Racing is actually extremely reasonable and I’d recommend it to anyone wondering what it feels like driving a proper single seater around a racetrack.
Fantastic Racing Car Specs:
Engine: 3.5 Litre Dodge Multi-Valve Alloy V6.
Gearbox: Hewland 6 Speed, Straight Out Sequential Gearbox.
Penske Fully Adjustable Dampers and Adjustable Anti-Roll Bars.
Tyres: 235 x 15 Front Slicks and 365 x 15 Rears.
For more information please visit www.fantasticracing.co.za.