Go-karting is one of the classic team-building activities. But what if you could take on your colleagues in an F1 car rather than a pimped-up lawnmower, and tackle some of the world’s most feared racetracks – all without having to zip up in an oil-splattered boilersuit?
With high-tech motorsport simulators, you can sample the thrills of Grand Prix racing without any of the risks. When it’s your turn to drive, you’ll strap into a “pod” with all the controls of a race car – or as many as you think you can handle ‑ in front of a large high-definition screen. Some simulators can even tilt and jolt, giving you a taste of the G-forces you’d encounter on a real track.
The beauty of virtual racing is that you can simulate just about any scenario, from a quick sprint on a beginners’ circuit to a full race at Monza or Silverstone, with qualifying heats to determine everyone’s grid position in the final.
Some outfits, such as Race Zone (racezone.co.uk, 07717 302772) will bring the circuit to you. They can set up two simulators in your workplace to allow head-to-head racing, plus assorted paraphernalia such as an electronic leaderboard and live-action screens for spectators.
If you’d like more people to be able to compete simultaneously, you’ll have to go to a facility with permanent race pods. These include Race Centre (theracecentre.co.uk) with venues in Halifax (01422 301129) and Southampton (023 8026 9927), and Lets Race (letsrace.co.uk, 01293 826800) in Horley, Surrey.
None – you’ll walk away unscathed from even the most horrific crash. However, moving simulators can cause queasiness in some people.
One big advantage over go-karting is that team members of different driving abilities can take part together, fostering friendly rivalry rather than seething frustration. Race Zone’s Mark Alexander says: “We can preconfigure the cars to suit the driver’s level, and split the group into different classes during the qualifying.”
It’s not expensive. “Roughly, we’d offer a basic half-day experience for up to 20 people for £595 and a full day for £795,” says Alexander. However, most companies offer plenty of extras if you’d like to splash out – everything from “trackside” catering and corporate branding on the virtual cars to a proper F1 podium experience for the winners.