By Steve Blackie. Photos by Shane Murphy.
The alarm goes off at 5:00 am (It’s cold and dark) I need to be in the car by 5:30 if I’m to get to the Queensland Raceway at Willowbank by 7:00 am, as well as getting out of Surfers before they close the street for the Gold Coast Marathon. I am going to ‘Happy Laps’.
YES it does sound like something that you would buy at Macca’s for the kids but it’s not. It’s a fun morning at a race track. I make it into the car by 5:30 am and beat the marathon road block in Southport. After stopping for fuel and to put some air in the tyres, the GPS tells me that my arrival time is 7:01am. Perfect I think.
The trip is trouble free, the traffic is light, the air is slowly getting colder as I head to Ipswich and the car temp gauge even falls a bit. On arrival, the air is very cold (I think good call for long pants and a jacket). We pay our money, $35 for a minimum 30 minutes track time (we had 40 minutes in the end), as well as a full cooked breakfast (egg, bacon, beans, mushrooms, sausages, tomato and coffee). I was right; Happy Laps does have something to do with food! This has to be considered great value for money.
The track rules are simple, street clothes are OK (no helmet required), don’t do anything stupid, speed is to be the same as on the road (which is fine as the fun bits are the corners anyway). I was the 4th car onto the track, and by the time our 40 minutes were up, I had been passed by every one of the other cars at least once. (It did make me wonder how few points some of these people must have left on their licence!).
My Esprit is fun to drive on the track, it doesn’t stop as well as modern cars, it under-steers on the way in, and over-steers on the way out, but pulls not too bad for a 26-year-old 4-cylinder turbo.
I had a fun morning HAPPY LAPPING. I would like thank Matt for making it happen. This is a fun, safe way to get on the track, and I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t done it to give it a go!