Some things just have to be done to be believed. And if you’ve got so much as a microgram of petrol in your veins, there are some things you simply must achieve before kicking the proverbial bucket. So what you see here is Autocar India’s definitive list of fourteen things every petrolhead has to experience before they die.
Visit an international car show
Exciting supercars, radical concept cars and car manufacturers pulling out all the stops in a bid to have the best display, all under one roof. Forget sitting on the internet and ogling at cars, an international car show gives you the opportunity to actually get a feel of the actual car, and you can even sit behind the wheel in some cases. Plus, you get a glimpse of cars that could come to your own country very soon. For someone obsessed with cars, it’s one of those events you just can’t miss.
Watch a Formula 1 race
The holy grail of speed. Man and machine at speeds of over 300kph. You may have grown up idolising the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and watched Schumacher in his glory days on the television, but watching an F1 race live trumps all that. Getting a glimpse of your favourite driver hurtling past at unheard-of speeds in an F1 car is a treat in itself and makes for an unforgettable experience.
Take high-performance driving lessons
You never really get to push your car to the limit on ordinary roads. What’s the use of all that horsepower with no room to gallop? Luckily, there are a host of high-performance driving schools that allow you to push your car to the limit. Throw in a professional who’s at hand to teach you the right techniques to better handle every kink, apex, corner and straight, and you have a school that’s perfect for every aspiring race driver.
Drive across India
There’s possibly no other country in the world as diverse as ours. And there’s no other with such an array of roads. Take your pick. Drive through one of the largest deserts in the world. Drive through a desert in the middle of the Himalayas. Driving on one of the lowest motorable roads in the world. Drive on the highest motorable road. Drive to the wettest place in the world. Drive past some of the world’s most iconic structures. Drive through the largest collection of wildlife reserves. It’s guaranteed to be an epic road trip.
Add 50hp to your car
50hp may not sound like a massive amount, but then think of the gains. Take an average Maruti Swift that makes 83hp, and pump it up by 50hp! Take a 180hp Skoda Octavia, which is already quite quick, and add another 50hp. What 50hp does is catapult your car into competing based on performance with cars in the next price range, and in lots of cases, cars two price ranges higher.
Go and watch the 24 hours of Le Mans
As far as endurance races go, it doesn’t get much better than spectating the oldest active sports car endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its objective is different from most other racing categories in that partaking manufacturers are tested on their ability to produce the most sporty and reliable race car, instead of just the outright fastest. The racing throws up some intriguing action year after year, and as such, what the drivers put themselves through is quite unique in comparison to any other racing discipline.
Drive a two-stroke go-kart
This might sound like an odd addition to this list, but having a go in a two-stroke kart is tremendous fun. Two-stroke karts, like the ones we have in the JK Tyre-run Rotax Max Kart Open championship in India, pump out close to 28hp, and weigh as little as 80kg. This leads to a power-to-weight ratio of 350hp per tonne, without the driver’s weight included. In comparison, a Porsche Cayman S’s power-to-weight ratio is 240hp per tonne!
Drive on ice
There’s a certain thrill associated with going sideways in a car, even more so when it’s on ice. And when you have trained instructors explaining to you, step-by-step, just how to slide a car sideways through a corner, the joys are limitless. So, once you’ve prepared yourself with an instructor, go out there and find like-minded hooligans willing to race with you on a pre-determined ice course. The experience will blow your mind.
Drive on the China National Highway 219 (G219)
The China National Highway 219 (G219) runs along the southwestern border of China, from Yecheng in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region to Lhatse in the Tibet Autonomous region. Spread across 2,086km, the road passes through the disputed area of Aksai Chin, an area administered by the People’s Republic of China, but also claimed by India. It’s one of the highest motorable roads in the world, and the scenery of Rutok county ranks as some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. It’s possibly the most remote road in the world today.
Visit the Ferrari factory and museum
It’s the only place on Earth where there’s an Enzo parked outside a nondescript door and an F40 being worked on, on the other side of that door. Inside this factory is where all the cars that starred in your boyhood dreams are parked right next to each other. In the museum, you can find all the F1 cars that have won Ferrari the World Championship since 1999 and every car that has contributed to Ferrari’s illustrious years right from the 250 GTO to the LaFerrari.
Drive an F1 car
This one is a bit tricky. Driving an F1 car isn’t as easy as driving an ordinary road-going car. There are a lot of complexities involved, and even getting seated isn’t easy. Unlike a normal car, when you slide into the cockpit of an F1 car, you’re not actually sitting, but lying down, much like you would when you sleep. And this requires quite a bit of flexibility. But once past that, and all the other checks, the sheer ferocity experienced during driving is unparalleled. Be it acceleration, braking or turning, it will be unlike any other experience you’ve had.
Be driven in a race car by a professional
Getting driven in a high-powered car by a professional racing driver on a race track may be thoroughly enjoyable, but for inexperienced enthusiasts looking to hone their skills, little else comes close to the amount of experience one can gain by just sitting next to a professional driver while he hammers in the laps around a circuit. Watching the lines he takes, his entry points, braking points, where he clips the apex, the way he powers out of a corner, his reactions to countering oversteer and understeer; it’s an awe-inspiring experience.
Drive the Nürburgring
“For a quick lap at the Nürburgring, you’ve probably experienced more in seven minutes than most people have experienced all their life in the way of fear, of tension, in the way of animosity towards machinery and to a racetrack,” quipped Jackie Stewart, three-time F1 World Champion. This sums up the experience of arguably one of the most popular and notorious race tracks ever, quite well. As a true petrolhead, the ‘Green Hell’ is definitely one track that you can’t afford to not drive on.
For the privileged among us who have actually been in a car capable of doing 300kph, the experience is as terrifying as it is exhilarating. That said, today, there are a lot more cars and roads the world over that allow you to touch 300kph safely. Even then, the experience is more than worth having and should definitely be ticked off of your list if you get a chance.
What experience is a must-do on your automotive bucket list? Let us know in the comments section below.