>> Jan 10, 2013
What can you do to get to the front of the sales queues? This article takes a lighthearted look at some modifications to the family hatchback to get you to the chequered flag at the checkout. Hold onto your handbags and wallets.
Bringing the track to the shopping centre car park
When you spend as much time as I do speeding around racing tracks, the school run and weekly shop can seem a bit dull. Friends often ask me if I'm tempted to put the foot down or use some of the tricks I've learned on the circuit. The short answer is no, of course, I like driving too much to risk losing my license and my insurance is high enough already, thank you very much. So I'm a pretty law-abiding driver on the public road but I confess that sometimes, just sometimes, as I stew in another snarl up, I let myself imagine what it would be like to let my inner race driver free. Then I look around my little shopping trolley hatchback and think about how I could tweak it a little to help me beat all those other drivers to the best bargains in the sales.
Modifying my little hatchback
OK, it's only a fantasy, so I'm not going to bother too much about the cost or insurance implications. The first thing that's going to have to go is my frugal little diesel engine. Under the bonnet I want something like the engine from a Mitsubishi Evo or Subaru Impreza. Next, I'm going to lower the body, add a good body kit with skirts, air intakes and spoilers to make it look mean and stick to the road like glue. Then I'll add a full set of racing tyres to add even more road holding capability and quicken the pace a little further. I'm just about set, but I'll add a performance exhaust and proper rally driver's seat and belts to make sure I don't get thrown out on the car park corners. Now, what's going to go?
Lightening the load
I intend to pillage the shops and burn my plastic (it is a fantasy after all), so I'll need a lot of space and there's stuff in here I don't need. First the back seat can go. I don't want my little darlings seeing mummy drive like this. A quick look over at the front passenger seat and I decide that hubby can stay at home and babysit. This is a solo mission. In the boot, the spare wheel takes up too much space so I'll ditch that too. Finally I'm off to the shops and grinning at the squeal of my racing tyres as I weave in and out of the queue and bag that last parking space opposite the entrance of my favourite fashion store.
Back in the real world?
OK, I'm still sitting in the queue, there are no parking spaces and while I crawl along all the bargains are disappearing into someone else's bags. A change of strategy is in order. From now on I take the bus and let someone else worry about the driving. Do buses have turbochargers and rally seats?
Wendy Smythe is a keen amateur racing driver who enjoys attending track days on her weekends off. When she's not tearing around circuits on slick racing tyres, she works in the promotions industry. She writes widely about her motor racing hobby.