The economics of going really fast

Good value doesn't necessarily mean something is cheap. I consider this factor when testing cars, no matter their price; what do you get for your money?

What do you consider good value? Good value doesn't necessarily mean something is cheap. I consider this factor when testing cars, no matter their price; what do you get for your money? This week, I had the opportunity to try out Yas Marina's racing school, which is now open to the public. Going from 8am to midnight, it offers the public a chance to get behind the wheel of no less than three different types of cars: a V8-powered Aston Martin GT4, an open-cockpit Yas Supersport SST, pictured below, and a single-seat Formula Yas 3000. An hour and a half with each of these costs Dh950.

During a brief presentation before we got into the cars, it was suggested by a member of the media that this was very expensive. Jonathan Tait, the head of the race school, replied that the cost was in line with other racing schools in the area and that the management was satisfied with its decision. And to be honest, so am I. Yes, Dh950 is no small change, especially in these trying times. But, if you are a motorsport fan, consider what you get for your hard-earned cash.

Dh950 gets you in the seat of a real and very expensive race car, purpose-built for the track. That alone is something not many people get the chance to do. You also get personal instruction from a qualified and experienced race car driver. Yas has assembled a team that includes regular drivers in the UAE Touring Car championship, guys who race almost every weekend, and they know what they're doing.

That money gets you a team of qualified mechanics and covers tyres, fuel and oil. And, it includes a very stylish fire-proof suit and helmet that make you feel like a race car driver, regardless of your abilities. And let's not forget the track. You will have the opportunity to drive the same circuit as Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton et al, even under the lights in the evening, just like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It's one of the best racing facilities in the world, and you get a chance to drive it in fury.

I got a drive in the Aston, with Saeed al Mehairi as my instructor. Al Mehairi is a regular in the Touring Car championship here, and guided me as we blasted around the track with the V8 roaring a glorious note. After the run - as I couldn't hear a thing he said in the car - we went over everything again. And here's where I found the only problem: it's addictive. I wanted to turn right around, get back on track and work on it again. But that will have to wait until next time. At Dh950, it's not cheap. But when you finally get out of the car with that smile on your face, you'll find it's a fantastic value.

Got a bit more cash to blow? Yas also offers two laps in its two-seat F1 car, and after a stint with none other than the former F1 driver Mika Salo, who was just visiting, I would heartily recommend trying it. At Dh7,500 a pop, it's not for everyone. But to finally experience what these drivers go through is stunning; the forces inside the cockpit are incredible. I'll never watch an F1 race the same way again.