8 JULY 2013
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Newly qualified 17-year old driver Oliver Smith, already a successful Kart racer and Kart race reporter for Karting World magazine, was lucky enough to spend a day at Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge, with a group of hardened motoring hacks. Olie is no slouch when it comes to Karts and has raced abroad and also against drivers with GP2 experience. Mercedes Benz forms part of the old Brooklands motor racing circuit and adjoins the museum of that name.
Arriving at the British birthplace of both motor sport and aviation there is no doubt that the first thing to really get the adrenaline flowing is to park on the banking of the abandoned Brooklands circuit, once the greatest motor racing track in the world.
I jumped out of the car to look back down one of the long straights that made up part of the original circuit and immediately I wanted to climb the 30 degree slope all of the way to the top. From up there, you can see across the whole of Weybridge and, in close proximity, Mercedes-Benz World.
The building is huge and grey, but has an attractive and professional look about it – very business-like. In front, lay a winding strip of track that doubled back on itself to form the course that the Mercedes AMG high performance cars take on their demonstration runs. Also on view was the impressive off-road course where everything was either covered in mud or underwater, but much more fun than I make it sound. I’d been invited on a Media Day at the facility and was very much looking forward to what the company had in store for the journalists and budding journalists alike.
Stepping though the sliding double doors and into the vast space of Mercedes Benz World, it is easy to find yourself falling over backwards as your head explores the verticality of it all.
On the ground floor there’s a Mercedes branded shop sitting in the background, behind a variety of frequently polished automobiles from past and present. The same continues upstairs (and onto the second floor) which features cars ranging from Mika Hakkinen’s battle-hardened McLaren to a modern day edition of the car that took Sir Stirling Moss to victory in the Mille Miglia in 1955. Another interesting display definitely worth seeing is an entire Mercedes F1 car hanging gracefully in pieces from the ceiling in magnificent detail. Reaching the top floor of the building not only gives you a great view of all this, but if you’re lucky enough, access into the luxurious conference and hospitality rooms – a privilege that I was fortunate enough to experience.
The staff were helpful and friendly, the catering was exquisite and the atmosphere was calm, but not without a spark of excitement. On the other side of the windows were the AMG performance cars sliding and pirouetting around the saturated skid circle or further out lapping furiously around the twisting ribbon of tarmac that stretched out over the centre’s grounds.
However, it was over in the rises of the 4x4 challenge that my own personal driving experience began. I was taken back onto the old Brooklands circuit to reach the entrance of the inclines and seemingly vertical drops which brought out vertigo fears I never knew I had. The first obstacle was one so steep that my response was “You’ve got to be kidding me” when the nice instructor asked me to climb it. My jaw dropped as the 4-wheel drive systems, with many, many acronyms, kicked in to take me comfortably up the slope and back down the other side, as it did with every other challenge the vehicle was faced with. I was genuinely astounded with the car’s abilities to take its passengers up and over anything without so much as breaking a sweat. It was wet that day too, but that didn’t stop the wheels from taking a cautious but unrealistically easy descent down an outdoor flight of stairs.
I was reluctant to let the instructor return to the driver’s seat and even more disappointed to leave Mercedes-Benz World, but not after a chauffeur-driven ride around the surrounding country lanes in a very elegant and costly S-class, which boasted perky features from TV screens in the headrests to fully-adjustable seats and comfort I’ve only ever felt from my sofa. I’m definitely going back soon to try my hand at the AMG cars on the circuit once I’m old enough. I really is another 'World'. Also see AND FINALLY.
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