Behind the driver’s wheel in Ipswich
I visited the Ipswich SuperSprint a few weeks ago and, after getting a little inspiration, decided to head back for the V8 Race Experience at Willowbank.
My girlfriend and I stayed at our old faithful – the Metro Hotel International Ipswich. It’s a great base as it’s smack-bang in the centre of town and offers an excellent buffet breakfast. We drove up from the Gold Coast after work on a Friday and had dinner at Pumpyard Bar and Brewery. We’ve had drinks there before but have wanted to return for their impressive menu. There is an awesome selection of gourmet burgers and pizzas. We grabbed the pulled pork pizza and the sweet potato and mushroom burger, as well as the ‘Pumpyard Brewers Board’ mixed share platter.
Everything was amazing and it goes without saying we left feeling completely satisfied. We also departed a little smug at having gotten through all of the food!
On Saturday morning we walked up to Ellen and Rod for breakfast. We had grabbed a mid-morning coffee there a few weeks ago and glimpsed some of the meals as they were taken out to other patrons. If we hadn’t already filled up at Rafter and Rose we would’ve absolutely ordered their eggs benedict. It looked incredible! We made up for it this time, though, ordering a benny (which came with a generous serve of housemade hollandaise) and the avocado, haloumi and eggs (almost enough for two people and so, so, so tasty!). We were super impressed and really happy to support such a friendly small business.
The V8 Experience itself
The V8 Race Car Experience is held out at Queensland Raceway, Willowbank, only about a 20 minute drive from the Metro Hotel. As soon as we arrived I was asked to choose between Holden and Ford and then the rundown began. A professional driver went through everything we needed to know about getting behind the wheel of one of those beasts; cornering, braking, handling and the track map. To be honest, it was a little hard to concentrate. I was itching to get out on the track.
After the pre-drive tuition, I was taken to pit-lane and fully kitted-out in my own race suit and helmet. Next thing I knew, I was strapped behind the wheel of a V8 and ready to put my foot down. From the instant I was pushed deep into the seat, the smile did not leave my face. It’s safe to say it was quite the contrast to driving around my old Nissan Patrol! I had poked around a racetrack before, but this was something else. If you think they look fast on TV, being behind the wheel gives you a whole new respect for the skill those drivers have.
I stayed in touch with the driving coach the whole time via built-in two-way helmet communication. I was encouraged through the drive and given advice on gear changes, cornering and braking because, of course, there are no speed limits. It was a phenomenal experience. But if getting behind the driver’s wheel is a little too adventurous, you can choose to be a passenger as a professional takes the lead. I would have stayed there all day if I could! I definitely recommend the experience to anyone searching for an incredible adrenaline hit, or an awesome gift to give a friend. I’m still smiling.
Finishing off the day with dinner
We felt obliged to eat some more local food after our “exhausting” day. The idea was to treat ourselves with a final night at Spicers Hidden Vale. We drove from Willowbank to Grandchester, stopping countless times along the way to grab some wonderful photos. The drive is relatively short, less than half an hour from Willowbank, but it is filled with wonderful hills and landscapes at Rosewood and Tallegalla and some windmills around Calvert.
Once we arrived, we checked into our stylish room and had a walk around the property just before sunset. We saw some kangaroos feasting around the walking/MTB trails in front of the colourful sky. Dinner at Homage later that evening consisted of several courses, as part of their tasting menu. There aren’t enough words to describe the taste and presentation of the food and the general ambience, it’d be remiss of me to even try. It’s something worth trying to describe yourself!