36) Be driven very fast around a race track in a sports car
Yay! It’s another big tick for my List for Living.
But it didn’t quite happen how I imagined it would. When I came up with no 36 on my list I thought that a friend of a friend with a flash car would take me for a ride. We’d probably drive around a small, local race track and that would be it.
However my friend Amanda who’s a sports presenter for CNN had a rather different idea and offered to help arrange something much more special. The former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard straight away agreed to take me for a spin around Silverstone. Who better to drive me than someone who’d twice won the British Grand Prix on the legendary circuit.
We set a date in-between my chemo sessions near the end of my treatment. It gave me something really exciting to look forward to.
I have to admit that I was nervous. These days the most frightening things in my life tend to be appointments with my oncologists to discuss my stupid cancer. So as DC helped to get me all kitted up, it felt brilliant to be scared about something that was going to be so much fun.
It was pretty surreal being there. The day before I was in a hospital bed hooked up to a drip of toxic drugs. As the poison slipped into the veins I looked at the race track on the internet using my iPad. I tried hard not to listen to the two elderly patients next to me who were comparing their cancers.
Less than 24 hours later I was at Silverstone.
Porsche lent us a 911 for the occasion – £100,000 worth of car. When it comes to being in a hospital bed verses a Porsche, I know which one I prefer!
We zoomed out of the pit lane. As soon as we went past the green light at the start of the track DC accelerated so hard that it took my breath away. I wanted to scream but nothing came out. He told me this was just a warm up so I’d get used to the speed. A warm up?!?
‘’Are you ready for the first corner?’’ I just about squeaked a yes.
I soon understood why he’d checked. Braking into a corner felt almost like doing an emergency stop at full speed.
Then we got fast, real fast.
David was very relaxed, pointing out the best parts of the circuit. Apart from his hands on the steering wheel, he didn’t seem to move much. Meanwhile I lurched from side to side, gripping the door handle for support. Once I got my breath back I managed lots of screams and plenty of oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god. My fear was so funny and we laughed our way around the track.
There were a couple of other cars out there. For a few seconds we hovered behind them. Then over the noise of the engine I shouted “take ‘em”. DC was more than happy to oblige asking if I wanted him to use the inside or outside lane.
I’m sure the other cars were driving quickly but it was clear we were in a totally different class. Every time we overtook them, it almost felt like we were supersonic.
Our top speed was around 145 mph!
It was terrifyingly thrilling and yet I felt very safe. Even if I couldn’t stop myself from being thrown around the Porsche every time we went around a corner.
We did two laps of the Grand Prix circuit. It was an amazing ride. When I stepped out of the car I was a bit shaky but very happy.
Cancer takes away lots of the good stuff in your life. It creates many lows. You spend far too much time thinking about death. My List for Living is all about ensuring that I have plenty of highs too.
This gave me such an adrenalin buzz. It felt like I’d just a won a race. Standing on the edge of the track with Amanda and David afterwards, I realised that doing something incredibly scary had made me feel so very alive.
Amanda Davies, myself and David Coulthard
A massive thanks to Amanda, David Coulthard and his BBC team, Silverstone and Porsche for making it all happen.