My visit to last summer’s VXR festival was all the more enlightening as it included the genre of ‘precision driving’, led by the affable Paul Swift. Now, my knowledge of the Swift clan has recently been bolstered by Top Gear and You Tube yet began back in the hazy days of the 1980s when salesmans’ rep mobile, the Austin Montego was manoeuvred by a combination of J turn and balancing into a crammed car park to the adulation of an admiring audience. That feat was conducted by Russ, Paul’s father so evolution developed driving precision from Darlington to beyond judging by Top Gear’s world tour.
Motoview drove up the A1 to hone our driving dexterity, courtesy of the man himself and instructors in Ford Focus STis; examples were set and advice given, with me repeating key words for reinforcement for the euphemistically titled, ‘parallel park’ sequence. Speeding to 30mph with gradual turn in, yanking handbrake at the crucial time when nose of the Focus was at right-angle to the rear of an inflatable VW Golf so that a sliding arc by the back tyres of the Ford brought it into line, aided by the wet surface and higher inflated tyres; a good first attempt if I say so myself… phew.
The reverse J turn is impressive, less though as a passenger with rising stomach acids so I had to bail out. The key to its successful completion though, is to dab brakes as well as straighten the front wheels after you arc through 180 degrees so that everything is aligned and in synch for the final push. An original Mini Cooper provided a background balancing on two wheels, alarming when your passenger door seems 30 degrees to the ground! A Mitsubishi Evolution did dastardly doughnuts, four wheels spitting out speckles of rubber, eventually coasting through dense smoke plumes back to its resting place.
To tie everything together, a final competition stage put friend against friend and husband versus wife in a knockout round to decide who was best Stigness. An invigorating day for only £204 that has changed my visit to the B and Q car park forever – only joking.
Words and photo are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou
Film is copyright of Peter Kemball and motoview.co.uk