On Friday afternoon I had one of the best automotive experiences of my life. The company that does the logistics for one of the companies I am involved in invited the CEO and myself to a corporate event at the Gerotec vehicle testing facility about an hour from Johannesburg. The facility itself is amazing and is used by many car manufacturers to carry out hot weather high altitude testing - it has several tracks including a high speed banked "bowl" for speed testing.
The schedule started off with an hour of driving the latest Merc C63s on the dynamic handling circuit - a mad circuit with no run-off at all (ask Vitalone who lost it in his Porsche 911E there about six years ago!). The C63 was very powerful but not at all soulful and in the end quite disappointing. What really amazed me was that complete novices were let loose in cars with 500-odd Hp on the most dangerous circuit in the country and they were able to drive the cars relatively quickly. I personally didn't enjoy the nannying from the electronics but I can appreciate what they have done for safety.
After the Mercs, we were let in on the real treat! The company that took us sponsors an off-road racing team and we were treated to a 6km "lap" in one of these monsters! We sat in the navigator's seat and had full intercom system so the driver could explain what was going on.
I have had the good fortune of going around race tracks in many fast cars (F40, F50, 993 GT2), driven a race cars including single seaters and gone up in a jet fighter, but I can honestly say that the experience of being in the 550 Bhp beast was probably the most scary of all. I cannot explain how physical and extreme the car is - I was massively impressed.
I have attached a pic of the car I went in - it is called a BAT chassis.