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Rally Driving Experience Days

Drive a rally car
Drive real rally cars on a gravel and dirt, tarmac or forest stage under the expert tuition of rally school instructors. Rally driving experiences take place at courses across the UK and use cars such as the Ford Escort, Focus or Subaru Impreza, all fully prepared with roll cages, bucket seats and intercom systems for an unforgettable rally driving day.

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Guide to Rally Driving Days

Rally driving is a wild sport and a rally driving day makes a great gift for adrenalin junkies, thrill seekers and petrol heads alike.

Try a Rally Driving Day behind the wheel of a fully prepared rally car on a dirt, gravel or forest stage and you will discover what makes the sport of rallying so popular with spectators and drivers alike. Understeer, oversteer, handbrake turns and power slides are just some of the skills you will learn and there is a huge choice of rally schools all over the UK.

All cars are chosen for their rally pedigree, from the rear wheel drive Escort RS2000 to the awesome 4 wheel drive Subaru Impreza, and the circuits are designed to test your driving skills to the full with everything from tarmac and dirt to gravel and forest stages.

Half Days, Full Days and Taster Experiences

Rally driving days are also geared to your budget, with experiences ranging from around £70 for a Rally Taster (about 20 minutes behind the wheel) to around the £100-150 mark for a half day or introductory course (around 45 minutes behind the wheel) and upwards for full days (around 90 minutes behind the wheel) for people who love driving rally cars in a safe environment or are serious about taking up the sport of rallying as a hobby or profession.

So what does a rally driving experience involve ?

A half day rally driving course typically includes:-

  • Introductory Briefing
    A short lesson on the basic theory of rally driving before heading out to the cars.
  • Demonstration laps
    Your rally instructor will show you around the course at a relaxed pace to familiarise you with the route.
  • Get behind the wheel
    Now it's your turn. Once strapped into your rally car and plugged in to the intercom system, your instructor will shout 3-2-1 GO and you're off in a cloud of dust on your first laps learning the rally driving skills needed to power slide your way around the rally course. You will usually have several sessions behind the wheel to give you a chance to recover (it's exhausting work !), take on board what you have learnt and then go again.
  • Timed laps
    Your final laps will be timed to test your new-found rally driving skills and see how much you learned while your instructor was yelling instructions into your ear.
  • White knuckle passenger ride
    Once you've finished trying to plough the rally car into a field, your instructors will take the wheel, strap you in tight and show you how the experts do it. Please remember to bring a change of underwear.
  • Award / humiliation ceremony
    Find out your lap time, who was the worst driver and who was the champion of the day. Did you flirt with disaster at every corner, single handedly reduce the cone population or scare the living daylights out of your instructor. The award ceremony reveals all.

Half day rally driving courses usually last about 3 hours and involve about 30 minutes of hands-on driving time.

Verdict - Half Day Rally Courses:

Huge fun, whether driving or watching your course mates make their mistakes. Rally driving is physically demanding and the instructors encourage you to explore your limits, so you will feel it in the morning - 30 minutes driving time is longer than it sounds. Suitable for all levels of driver.

What else happens on a Full Day rally course ?

Full day rally driving courses take a very similar format to half days, but provide alot more time behind the wheel and therefore more opportunity to refine your rally driving skills.

Driving time on a full day course is generally about 80-90 minutes and tuition is geared to your individual ability, so you can learn at your own pace.

Verdict - Full Day Rally Experiences:

Same thrills and spills as a half day but the extended tuition will leave you a much more competent rally driver, able to throw the car around the course under control but at quite scarey speeds. The drive home will seem very dull !

What's best, gravel, dirt, tarmac or forest ?

Gravel and dirt courses offer the best kind of slip-sliding fun, perfect for the half day experience as you don't need much knowledge to get the back sliding out around those corners. There's nothing quite like spinning on a corner and ending up in a cloud of dust !

Forest courses offer the real rally feel of racing down narrow tracks at breakneck speeds, whereas tarmac courses offer wheel squealing fun of the highest order.

The ideal combination is a mixed surface course which combines gravel, dirt and tarmac to give you a feel for the different skills needed to control the rally car on each surface. If it's in a forest that's a bonus !

Which cars are best ?

Some people have their dream rally car or want to recreate the images they see on TV of top rally stars hurtling along in a Subaru Impreza or Mitsubishi Evo, some people want the nostalgia of the rally greats of years gone by like the Escort RS2000, and some people just want to have a laugh. The car is a matter of personal preference, but the fun is just as great in a banged up Astra as it is in Subaru Impreza.

Cars at rally schools vary greatly but the main factor to consider is which wheels drive the car. Rally cars are either rear wheel drive, front wheel drive or 4 wheel drive and all offer a different driving experience. For raw rally driving fun you can't beat a rear wheel drive car - it's the easiest to get sliding around the bends and that's what we are all looking for !

What about location ?

Again, the location of the rally driving course is a matter of personal preference. One dirt and gravel rally course is pretty much the same as the next so, unless you really want to drive at Brands Hatch or Silverstone, go for a location that suits you.

Rally driving days that are run on an airfield in the middle of nowhere will be just as much fun as more prestigious venues and usually cheaper. There's alot to be said for a short drive to and from the venue !

Overall Verdict:

Whichever rally driving day you choose, you can be fairly certain of having a great time. Rally experiences are enormous fun.

Half days are a perfect gift as the driving time is enough to enjoy without becoming tiring, full days are better for more advanced drivers and intensive courses are ideal only for people with serious rally driving ambitions.

For most people, any rear wheel drive car on a dirt / gravel course will deliver genuine unrestrained rally driving exhilaration in bucket loads. But for people who are slightly more particular about their rally car or venue, all the options are all available.