x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The air bag: Life is not a drag in Abu Dhabi

Motoring editor Neil Vorano reflects on a week where he visited the Geneva Motor Show, was driven in a dragster by "Hot Rod" Fuller and drove a Porsche 911 around the track at Yas.

Dear Ma and Pa,

How're things in Timmins? I know it's winter there up in northern Canada, and the minus-30 Celsius temps must feel a bit "brisk". It's cold here, too, - it went down to 18C yesterday. Brrrr!

Anything new in the hometown? My week has been a little humdrum; not much going on here. Well, I did go to the Geneva Motor Show, so I guess that's something. I saw a raft of new cars and talked with a mad scientist-type who developed a new kind of engine; kind of interesting if you're a petrol-head. I also toured the AMG engine factory in Germany, where they build all the high-horsepower V8s and V12s for Mercedes AMG cars by hand. I think Dad would have found it interesting.

But I'm back now to my normal life in sleepy Abu Dhabi. Well, to be fair, I had a bit more excitement - I got a ride in a dragster on the weekend. None other than "Hot" Rod Fuller, Yas Marina's own Top Fuel star, was at the controls of a 1,000hp, three-seat dragster for the ride of a lifetime! Honestly, the first two seconds of my six-second run, I was actually terrified; that car is fast! The thing is, it's not even close to the 8,000hp Top Fuel car that Fuller races. But it's still Dh400 well worth spending.

Luckily, I got a chance to watch Fuller and others compete at the Yas Marina Drag Festival over the weekend, too. I'm not sure I can properly convey the brutality of the Top Fuel dragsters - the ground shakes when they take off! No, really, they cause an earth tremor of about 2.2 on the Richter scale when they race. In fact, I managed to get right to the track wall during the competition, and as they took off my eyesight blurred for a moment as the cars passed. It was absolutely incredible, and I'll go back to see them again after the summer.

Oh, I forgot about something else. Now, I know Dad is a staunch GM man (how's the Buick?), but even he might appreciate the fact that I got to drive some Porsches around the Yas Marina track. It was part of the Porsche Road Show, an event that gives customers of the brand a glimpse into what the cars can do on a race track. Any chance I get to hoon a 911 around Yas, I take it! So, yeah, I guess that was pretty fun, too.

You know, come to think of it, I have had a busy last few days. Funny how these things seem to crop up in Abu Dhabi.