Porsche Carrera GT
There seem to be dozens of track day companies offering the same product: a day out on a track. Some bring in new additions such as car hire or a weekend trip away to the ‘Ring or Spa. Yet a new company claims to offer something more. Being someone who has been bitten by the track day bug, I went along to one of their recent events to find out just what Fastrak can offer.
I was given simple instructions: get to a hotel in Bedford by 7pm on the Thursday and bring a helmet. Sounded interesting, especially as the track day was on Friday. And Fastrak's location in Bedford is within easy reach of London, your author's home town.
I arrived at the hotel to be greeted by Sean Dudding, one of the partners in Fastrak, and was soon introduced to about a dozen fellow enthusiasts in the bar. Collected my room key and headed off to relieve myself of my overnight bag, yet passing the car park halted my initial enthusiasm to get straight back to the bar.
It was full, with over a million pound’s worth of track day weaponry sitting in secure silence.
More like a club
Back at the bar, it soon became clear that these weren’t just a group of mates going to the same trackday as Sean. They were customers of Fastrak, although it was obvious that they were all good friends as well, bought together by their love of cars. We relaxed over a few drinks and they were all very enthusiastic about the day ahead.
After a fantastic meal, we retreated back to the bar and the banter continued. It was a fun evening, and not just enjoyed by the drivers. One driver had his other half and another bought his daughter along. It really was a social event.
Sure, there are owners’ club balls every year for most marques, but it was great to be able to relax in a hotel and chat with fellow enthusiasts the night before a track day.
Another key advantage of this is that any new drivers get to mingle with the experienced and put any fears or worries they have to bed. Advice is free flowing with tales of the ‘Ring and Spa being common subjects of conversation.
A full experience
Sean and his business partner, Andrew Baughan, set up Fastrak so they could supply their clientele with exactly what they would want from a track day experience. They had travelled all over Europe and experienced all the top tracks and knew that similar minded enthusiasts would love to drive around Spa -- although it's not as easy as booking a place at Bedford. The intention of the company is to provide everything that is needed, with the ultimate result being a stress-free time away for the drivers and their guests.
When travelling abroad to drive, one would expect to have the hotel organised, but what about the British tracks. If you’re travelling a sizeable distance to a track, the additional hassle of booking a room nearby is not really needed. You might get to the hotel and find the car park is not secure or that there are no other drivers staying.
With Fastrak, you just check a box on the order form and you’ll have a room waiting for you. You’ll know that your pride and joy is safe in the car park and can be guaranteed a friendly set of faces in the bar when you arrive.
In the morning, a full breakfast is ready for you and then it is just a short ten-minute drive to the circuit in the case of Bedford. No need to wake at the crack of dawn, breakfast at the hotel was at a very conservative 7:30am.
Unlike many commercial companies, profit is not what Fastrak is about. The founders are track day enthusiasts who want to enjoy a day like any other. They both drive the events, yet are always on hand to help beginners.
Fastrak also organises barbeques and drinks for after the track day, which allows everyone to relax and chat about the day’s proceedings. They will arrange for tyre fitters to be at the venue for those with a habit of destroying rear tyres through drifting fun. And there's no need to endure the hassle of bringing spare tyres, they’ll be at the venue ready for you to drive home with. These are all problems the founders have experienced before, so by providing these services, they are thinking of everything.
It is wrong to call Fastrak a track day company, they are more of an enthusiasts’ club into which anyone is welcome. There is no stupidly expensive joining fee, which can make it elitist. Whether you drive a 205 or a Carrera GT, you’re equally welcome.
Karting sessions are a regular appearance in the Fastrak calendar and these are open to all, so even if you don’t fancy trashing the family saloon on track, you can take part and enjoy the company of fellow enthusiasts.
Sean and Andrew both drive Porsche GT3RSs, as did most of the drivers that I chatted to at the hotel. It is not a Porsche-only company however, it just happens that the founders are in the Porsche community already so the initial clientele has been from Porsche owners. Fastrak is keen to expand to include other marques and is already attracting a diverse line-up. The company has even attracted a number of Carrera GTs -- always a sight to admire at a track day.
A fundamental part of the Fastrak philosophy is to help everyone progress in their driving skills. On session-based days, novices get a separate group from more experienced drivers, allowing progression at the driver’s own pace without intimidation from faster drivers lapping them.
By now it should be clear that Fastrak's plan is to provide an all-encompassing service for track day users. It isn't the cheapest, but it guarantees a high standard of service and all the little extras that are often missed, such as the tyre changers and hotel accommodation. Sean and Andrew are keen to develop the club atmosphere with more social nights and non-track based days out.
The easiest way of knowing why the club is growing at a substantial rate is to speak to the drivers.
Steve Rance is already a very accomplished driver, having a varied racing history and has incredible talent behind the wheel. During the day, I chatted to him and found out why he chooses Fastrak.
“Fastrak is more of a club than a track day company. I’ve been to too many track days that were ruined by inconsiderate or just very poor drivers. Fastrak places its emphasis on providing a safe, enjoyable track space for like-minded drivers”.
Steve had much praise for the extras that Fastrak offer, such as the technical support from the likes of Parr Motorsport and JZ Machtec. “It is fantastic to have that kind of support with top level driving instruction from Carrera Cup winners finishing off what I think is a fantastic package”.
From an observer point of view, it was clear that all the drivers fully appreciate the extra that Fastrak can offer. The organised hotel accommodation and social side to the company really help make the weekend a stress free event.
The team at Fastrak is dedicated to providing the best possible service, as its events are planned around what they would expect. It really is a track day company for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts.
Photos by Andy Rixon