As a kid, I never really liked buggies, because they looked awkward to me and not at all like a sportscar or like one of the better-looking rally cars. To be perfectly frank, they still look rather strange to me, but who can resist their performance and agility.
Yorkshire-based Rage Motorsport has been defining what’s physically possible with buggies for some 15 years now. Modified Rage Hurricanes have taken part in several Paris Dakar rallies. The one I drove around an Everyman Racing race track in Leicestershire last weekend, uses a brand new Yamaha Nytro snowmobile engine with 140hp. This is a fair bit below the most powerful Rage Buggy, the Comet, which has 200hp.
However, no need for a long face. The Hurricane still makes it to 100km/h from stand-still in under 4 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than a brand new Porsche 911 Carrera. Moreover, that’s just 0.4 seconds more than the ultra-vicious Rage Comet, which hasn’t even ever competed in the Paris Dakar, and which only comes with second-hand, not with new engines. Those buggies weigh next to nothing. My Hurricane was 550kg (dry), the Comet is just 15kg more than that. Despite the fact that the instructor I had, Martin, is a pretty big feller too, and I’m just under 105kg, the acceleration of the buggy is awe-inspiring.
I had booked twelve laps for £69. This was a special offer discounted from £99. I ended up paying more than £100, because I opted for the media package, zero excess insurance cover, etc. This deal comes down to approximately 15 minutes, of which 3 minutes were instructions, 12 minutes driving. The cheapest packages are for less rounds and I’ve seen special offers for as little as £39. In my view it is better to do the 12 laps, because it takes a little while to learn how to ride that rocket.
The Prestwold dirt track is probably the least attractive shape a dirt track can be: two about 800m long parallel straights with corners on each end. There is an additional corner in the middle, in case you don’t want to go all the way down the straight but instead want to do shorter rounds. This is what I did for most of the time. Going straight is a bit boring after all. There are no obstacles, except for a few traffic cones, no ramps, not even tiny ones. Everything consists of the same, evenly flat, hardened mud surface, respectively (on some sections of the full lap) some of the same, evenly flat, tarmac.
That said, I started to be increasingly grateful for the dull race course. It turned out that I’m really, really bad at driving buggies. I slid out of every corner every time for the first few rounds. That is twice per round. Twice coming to a complete stand-still pointing into the opposite direction. And twice per round having to spin the wheels to put the buggy back into forward-pointing position and to start accelerating down the straight towards the other corner.
The Brembo disk brakes did not do much for me. You could push the brake pedal down as hard as you could for two seconds straight and the result was barely noticeable. Then again, I was there for the thrills, not to improve my braking skills.
The real fun started, once I had figured out how to drive around the corners, and, as a result, was turning into the straights at proper speed. This made the straights also much faster. I very much doubt that I came close to the top speed of just under 200km/h, probably nowhere near, even when I was doing the full-length rounds. After all Martin did whistle me back regularly when the risk of unplanned early retirement became too high for his liking. I certainly reached pretty fun top speeds, though, no complaints.
I would say, if you can get the discounted deal for £69 or something similar, then this is definitely a 5 out of 5. If you look at paying full-price, then it’s still a 4.5 out of 5, but I’d prefer doing rounds in three supercars around the proper race track next-door for that kind of money.
Looking for more fun activities that are within driving distance from London? Check out our posts about jetskiing, quad biking, mountain biking, or our rides on a powerboat and on a very fast rubber boat. Other popular posts are about Café East and Beso, London, our visit to the Paris catacombs, and our kayaking adventure in the New Forest.