The white Porsche GT3
accelerates gently out of the pit lane and through the first corner; then all hell breaks loose.

The driver sinks his right race boot to the bare metal floor and the roaring mechanical grind of the engine obliterates any pretence at casual conversation as the brutal acceleration forces me deeper into the snug fitting race seat.

The exhaust is a guttural bellow as the six-cylinder boxer engine converts high—octane into more power than anyone ever really needs, but everyone always wants.

lt is unrelenting and ferocious, and then the driver grabs the next gear and it starts all over again, gear upon gear. Until the first corner we come to at speed, when things get truly surreal. If the acceleration of a Porsche GT3 is staggering, then the braking is world- alteringly, mindbuggeringly stunning.
This is brut force, industrial grade stopping power.

lf enough GT3s, traveling in the right direction at the same time hit their brakes at the right moment, they could probably stop the world spinning. Pounding into the corner, the g-forces attempted to tear me from the seat and pound me mercilessly into the windscreen eliciting a very rude word from me, but also much laughter.
It's actually a good thing my helmet—encased head is uncomfortably wedged into place by the roll cage, otherwise it would be bouncing around like a puppy in a tumble drier.

This is no elegant European thoroughbred sports car for posing in — this is a pure
form-following-function race car. lt may have the body of a 911, but it has the soul of the devil himself.

The car doesn't in fact belong to Satan; it belongs to a bloke by the name of Terry May, although he does drive it like he has the dark lord on his tail, and we are currently enjoying three very quick laps of the newer section of the Taupo race track.
This is called a "Playday". indeed...


The Playday on Track concept sprang from the mind of Gary Stirling, and is motorsport at its most basic, grassroots level.

The concept is simple - turn up
with either a full—blown race car that would pass motorsport scrutineering or (and this is the fun part) any road legal, registered and warranted vehicle, a current NZ drivers license, a set of cotton overalls and a helmet and the world (or in this case track) is your oyster. Well, okay it's not quite that simple; the phrase "turn
up" is slightly misleading, In fact, its an outright lie — booking well in advance is essential, such is the rapidly growing popularity of these days.

The Playday concept originated three and a half years ago, after Gary organized a track day for the MR2 owners club and thought to himself that there could be potential in it, and has now seen the running of seventeen days.

From the initial 25 MR2s at the track day where the concept formed, Playdays now regularly attract more than 60 cars, and
things keep growing.

Gary was joined byTony Bowman six Playdays (a little over a year) ago after an approach from the Taupo race track about someone to run
track days for them, and a company was formed (Playday On Track Ltd) shortly after.


Tony's own "play“' car is something different- a Mazda MX5 with a Nissan Sylvia motor which goes like, well, a hurricane more than the wind. Gary says they try to keep the Playdays as "unorganized as possible" in order to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum and the fun to the maximum.

Indeed the army of oficials is conspicuous- by its absence, with the nearest thing to a General being “'Aunty" Les(ley) McLeod who controls the flow of vehicles
onto the track with a combination of copious good humour and slight dictatorial
menace. Auntys husband Rex mans the chequered flag and is one of the several sets of eyes keeping an eye on participants, ready to raise the alarm should an overeager participant run out of tarmac. And skill...

The idea at "track days" has been around virtually as long as the car itself, but rarely has the concept been so elegantly and simply packaged for the
masses, or the novice for that matter. Participants organize themselves into two groups (faster and slower: logically
enough) and go out on track in groups at about fifteen at a time to do a set of five laps — a warm up lap, three at speed and a cool down lap — alternating between the fast and slow groups.

The rules are so simple even a baby monkey could be trained to follow them — this is a non-
competitive event, there is no passing under braking or through corners, passing is only to be done under acceleration
on the straights, if you have a faster car behind you, move over and let them pass. Simple, common sense and rigidly adhered to, Gary makes this very clear at the briefing. Do something stupid once, and you are warned, Do it again, and you are going home.

Once you have finished your five laps, you simply rejoin the back of the appropriate- queue in the pit lane and wait for another crack at it. There are no lunch breaks (you can take a break at any time you cheese, and feed and coffee are available in the pits] and you can complete as few or as many runs as you can fit into the day - reports of participants covering more than 100kms on the track at a Playday are not unusual.

The whole concept, however, is about Fun. And everyone certainly seems to be Enjoying themselves, as the increasing
occurrences locked brakes suggests corresponding increasing confidence as the day goes on. Brakes and tyres (and the odd engine) are the only victims of the day — thanks to the few, but unbendingly followed rules, no panel damage is reported.

Hardly ever is, in fact — out of the 17 Playdays run so far there have only been two incidents involving damage, and both were single car incidents. .

The cars are as diverse a bunch of motor vehicles as you would ever be likely to see, encompassing everything from a Toyota Starlet through to the previously mentioned Porsche GT3. And that is the real beauty of the Playday — literally anything road or race legal] can be taken in one, from grannys little shopping basket through to a full blown Targa car. Dear lord, they have even had a Hummer...

Which leads us nicely back to the GT3. Terry has had it for six months, and has bought it as a Targa car (replacing a BMW M-Coupe he has run previously) and had recently run it in the Targa Rotorua. He reported to being happy with how it went. Happy Not a word I would have equated with the GT3 as we rolled slowly into the pit lane, there are far more explicit words that describe its performance. I even muttered a few of them as I stumbled out of the car with an almost complete lack of grace. And speaking of swearing, I also swore that I would be back, and that this time I would drive — probably not a GT3, but something, Anything. And that is the true appeal of a Playday - "Anything" will do.

Copyright 2008 WEBZ4U