I was lucky enough to win two vouchers for the Drive Rush Level 3 course in a competition last year.
I emailed to book a place back in October, and March was the first date they could do, so they’re obviously pretty busy.
My good mate Peter and I flew up from Wellington to Auckland for the day on Saturday to attend the afternoon course.
After collecting our hire car – a cheapy rental of a boring old Nissan – we set off to Albany to find the Drive Rush site.
Drive Rush rent a corner of the stadium car park, which has been set up with special surfaces and markings for some of their stunts, a metal ramp and some basic safety fences.
We arrived nice and early and had some time for a look around. Once all eight of us on the course were sorted with a helmet and had signed the safety disclaimer it was time for the safety talk.
The Drive Rush guys were great at covering the safety topics, with some humour thrown in. Throughout the day they came across as very professional but also were obviously having a good time. I was feeling a bit nervous at first, especially after seeing the ramp and the very long skid pad, but their manner definitely but me at ease.
First up was a demonstration of the stunt skills and some of the things were were going to learn throughout the day. We all piled into two of the cars with the instructors in the driving seats, cruised gently to starting positions, and.. whoah!
We experienced a full set of full-speed manoeuvres: driving head-on towards the other car with a last minute swerve, 90 degree skids, 180 degree skids, close passes between cars both forwards and in reverse, across the jump in close formation, followed by driving 5cm from the other car’s bumper at speed, and high-speed parallel parks using the handbrake. One car blew a tyre during the demo, so we waited while they jacked up the car with three people inside and threw on a new wheel.
That was quite an experience to say the least! Once everyone had had a go we split up to do the various activities.
First up for us was the skid pad. Basically get in the car (a Ford Focus with ABS disabled), line up with the skid pad so that two wheels are on it, two on the tarmac, floor it, and when told to, hit the brakes hard and hang on while it spins up to 1440 degrees! Pretty scary the first time. Good fun the second.
Our second challenge was jumping over another car using the ramp. I was really nervous about this, but it was actually pretty straightforward. The car had a speed limiter fitted to ensure the correct, safe speed over the jump, so it was basically line it up and floor it. Still pretty scary at the top when you can’t see a thing in front of you.
Next, 90 degree high speed parallel parks using the handbrake. The car was a Toyota Corona with an additional hydraulic handbrake. Get some speed up, but not too much, yank the handbrake, use the foot brake to try and stop the car in a box laid out with cones. Pete was good at this but I tried to do it all too fast, braked early and cocked it up. I needed more goes to get better.
180 degree handbrake turns followed, which I was much better at, then a timed relay in two teams using the skills we’d just learned. Our team lost.
After a quick break where we popped over the road to McDonald’s to use the facilities and grab refreshments it was on to the next challenge. This was a moose avoidance exercise. A road was laid out with cones with a blockage at the end. At a signal, the instructor pulled the hydraulic handbrake. My job was to control the car as it slowed in a straight line, swerve around the obstacle and do a 90 degree handbrake turn coming to a stop. We did this four times getting faster each time.
The final manoeuvre which we carried out ourselves was a J-turn. Go back fast in reverse, off the power, spin the wheel hard (no braking needed) let the wheel centre, slot into drive and go.
After a slow drive back to base with chunks of two tyres slapping against the arches we each had the opportunity to experience a car driving on two wheels. This was pretty amazing. It’s a steep angle and along way up on the passenger side, and the car drops back to earth with a hell of a thump!
Finally we were taken out by an instructor to experience 360 degree high speed spins forwards and in reverse. They aren’t able to teach this at the moment as there isn’t enough space to make mistakes!
At the end of the course we all got a certificate with the words “This is not a stunt driving licence” at the bottom. The whole thing was about three and a half hours long and would normally have cost $360. Between us we destroyed at least ten tyres. The instructors were all friendly and professional at all times. They exuded confidence, and everything was set up to be as safe as possible.
This was a fantastic experience, well organised and good fun and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. The course gives you the opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t normally do in your own car, legally and safely and in a controlled environment. It really opens your eyes to the things that can be done in a completely ordinary car, how they handle and what can be done at pretty low speeds. We certainly looked at the battered old hire car differently on the way back.