How We Rate Driving Experiences
Before we go into details, It’s important to mention that we walk into the venues for these experiences unannounced. We pay full price just like any other customer. This way we avoid the possibility of getting preferential treatment and ending up with a review that may not reflect the true nature of the experience. Due to the frequency of visits the top providers have been able to identify our main reviewer so future reviews will be done by others. With that out of the way, let’s get into the details.
Driving experiences can have fundamental differences. There is no way to do a direct apples to apples comparison in most cases. Consequently, we rate the experiences based on their promise and reasonable expectations from the average petrol head. The more expensive the experience is, the higher the expectations. One thing that’s worth mentioning is manufacturer experiences (places like Porsche Experience Center and Mercedes Benz World). These experiences don’t usually have “true” race tracks so it won’t be fair to compare them to a place like Exotics Racing which has a dedicated race track. As another example of a fundamental difference, some experiences rent Grand Prix race tracks so naturally, they will have more exciting venues. Having all of these in mind, here are the things we consider:
This specifically refers to the claims the providers make in their marketing material. If a provider claims to be the only one with a particular car or have the lowest prices, these claims better be accurate or it will cost them points.
If the provider claims to be a “supercar” or “exotics car” experience, we compare their cars to the market leaders. Unless they are significantly less expensive, they will lose points if their cars don’t measure up. There are a lot of experiences out there that try to take advantage of people’s ignorance and charge a premium to let people drive cars that have seen better days. Variety and condition are essential. However, a manufacturer experience obviously won’t be penalized for not having cars from a competitor.
Here we consider the category the providers falls into and rate their track based on what the competition in the same category offer.
These experiences don’t come cheap. Consequently, we put a lot of emphasis on customer service. Most of the providers have horribly one-sided contracts so the least they can do is offer excellent customer service. If we notice glaring omissions here, this will drop the hammer hard on the overall rating. Let’s put this in perspective. Once you’re in the car, it will take an average of 1 minute to complete one lap. If you pick the top products, you can easily burn $800 in 5 minutes! To whom much is given, a whole lot is expected.
Accessibility is a vital part of the experience. GP tracks are usually outside the boundaries of major cities and getting there can be a huge bother. This is why some providers offer transportation from your hotel to their location. Those who don’t will take a hit in our rating.
It’s not a comfortable topic, but the reality is that driving on a race track can be extremely dangerous. This is particularly true for open-wheel experiences since you won’t have an instructor by your side to help out if you make a mistake while driving. Consequently, we assess the safety briefing and only write about omissions that could potentially affect safety. An obvious example here will be the provision of FIA certified gear for open-wheel experiences. In our opinion, these should always be available.
While we would like to rate each category equally, it doesn’t feel right as we’re of the opinion that some of these are more important than others. Only the providers who excel in all categories gain the editor’s choice label. Any experience with a rating below 3 is one we highly suggest that readers avoid and we’ll give details whenever this happens.
We’ll like to know what you think. Please leave a comment to let us know if you think our methodology is flawed in any way. We’ve seen improvements in some of these experiences based on feedback from our managing editor to the providers, so we know most providers care about what the customer thinks.