On the Fast Track with Aston Martin

As my alarm clock went off, I suddenly remembered it was no ordinary working day—ILN had invited a select group of clients to an Aston Martin driving day at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire… and the sun was shining!

17 Apr 2014

by Jane Washbourn

There was a real sense of expectation as, over a cup of coffee, we listened to an informative talk from John Muirhead, Brand Communications Manager at Aston Martin Lagonda Limited, about the heritage of Aston Martin. It was the name of Aston Hill, near Tring, that Lionel Martin decided to join with his own name when he first thought about building an individual car. 

John spoke about 2013 being a landmark year as the company celebrated its centenary, which was covered in Aston Martin Magazine and a special centenary book, both produced by ILN. I attended one of the centenary events in Kensington Gardens last July, featuring the country’s largest gathering of the marque’s iconic British sports cars.  It was a blistering hot day and a real treat to witness such an historic event.

After John’s introductory talk, the fun on the track began. Clients were taken in a selection of Aston Martins to experience various driving experiences that Millbrook has to offer on its 700-acre site, including its 4.5-mile high-speed Bowl, hill routes and passenger laps.

I was lucky enough to be taken out by Richard Hope, an extremely knowledgeable and experienced driving instructor, and was thrilled to drive the Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Edition Coupe around the Bowl. I was suitably impressed by the way the six-speed automatic gearbox and adaptive suspension helped to balance out the imperfections on the road. 

I then experienced one of the most exhilarating moments of my life: neutral steer. I was told to accelerate to 75 mph in the third lane and then, with my hands on my knees, I continued to accelerate until I was going over 100mph in the fourth lane. Breathtaking!

Our clients had an equally thrilling time courtesy of ILN and Aston Martin. “Such a pleasure and a privilege to be able to drive Aston Martins for the day,” emailed Mike Bonner, Silversea Cruises’General Manager for the UK, Ireland and Middle East. “The highlight of the day had to be reaching 165mph on a mile-long track driving the Vantage S V12—simply awe- inspiring.  A legendary brand creating such a memorable day.”

aston martin

Mike Bonner of Silversea Cruises with a Vantage S V12 at Millbrook

For Jo Smith, Head of PR and Advertising at Daks, it was a “fabulously unusual and exciting day out” with her instructor literally getting her up to speed. “It was exhilarating, the Vanquish Coupe was fabulous and surprisingly very easy and uncomplicated to drive. I did a top speed of 170 mph—something I have never done before and may never do again.”

As I arrived home, I was greeted by my excited 10-year-old son, who thought I was allowed to drive the DB9 home. Imagine his disappointment when he looked out the window to see our VW Golf sitting there!

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