A few weeks back, Columbia Pictures sent ComingSoon.net to London with the sole purpose of showing their appreciation to the James Bond fans amongst CS readers by presenting their questions for Daniel Craig and Marc Forster. (You can read those questions and answers here.)
In addition to briefly talking with the star and director of the high-paced action-packed thriller Quantum of Solace, we got to participate in some really cool events which included driving Aston Martins on the Millbrook test track where a scene from Casino Royale was filmed.
Millbrook is located in Bedfordshire, England, about an hour away from London, and we were the first to check out the Hill Route Circuit which is the same track where Bond (Craig) frantically swerved out of the way and rolled his car several times to avoid killing Vesper (Eva Green). The 700-acre track serves as a place for customers who purchase the luxury cars to see what the Aston Martins can really do and for experienced and trained drivers to teach them how to drive the car, so we couldn’t believe it when we were told we’d have our own driving instructor show us how to maneuver the Bond car, in this case the DBS Model Aston Martin.
As our driver was speeding along the course, he pointed out the section of the track where the scene was shot, and you could see where new pieces of asphalt replaced the damaged areas of the road where that moment in the film took place. We opened our eyes to look and then immediately closed them again wishing we weren’t so freaked out by the curvy track and the unimaginably speed the instructor was going. We kept trying to maintain our cool and not show how scared we actually were, so we tried to ask a few questions, but as soon as we sped over a small hill and caught air, we just couldn’t do it. We had no idea we were about to go flying over the track, not that it would have made it any better if we did.
No laughing. We actually sucked it up and made it through without telling him to slow down which wasn’t the case with some of other people on the trip.
The next time we went out on the track, we actually got to drive, and we were brought back out onto the Hill Route Circuit again. We were admittedly very apprehensive about driving such an expensive car that we didn’t go that fast. In fact, it was a little embarrassing, but on the next course, the One-Mile Straight, we did much better.
This track is pretty self-explanatory. You drive straight for one mile. Before I tell you how fast we went, you should probably know that all of the instructors at Aston Martin used to be race car drivers and are hand-selected for their job so when we tried to maintain a reasonable speed, they just weren’t having it.
The instructor went first to show us how we should drive the track. He went from 0 to 70 in no time. Next thing we know we’re going 140 Miles Per Hour. The whole thing was over in just a few seconds, but it was intense and exhilarating at the same time. We were up next, before we left the top of the course, the instructor was telling us to floor the accelerator and not to be scared. Of course we were a bit nervous–okay, very nervous–but we eventually did it and got up to 118 MPH. Maybe that doesn’t seem so fast to some of you, but after driving in L.A. traffic for years, it’s rare we get up to 80, so 118 seemed crazy to us.
While it was intense, it was exhilarating at the same time and to go that fast in a car that rides so smooth and handles beautifully, it was exciting.
The driver had us go again, but this time he wanted us to slam on the breaks as hard as we could, while going 118. We thought he was insane and we didn’t want to do it, but we were in an Aston Martin on a racetrack in England so if we were going to go out, that’d be a pretty cool and classy way… so we did it.
Of course, we lived to tell about it and the car stopped on a dime without hesitation. We’ve never seen anything like it. We didn’t spin out, we didn’t slide down the course, and we didn’t jerk out of our seats when we hit the breaks. Instead, the car stopped as if we were going 20 MPH, not 118. It was unbelievable.
The final track we drove was the Circular Hi-Speed Bowl and this is the one we freaked out the most on. It’s called the bowl because of the way it’s shaped and there are four lanes. The fourth one is the highest and it goes up at an angle, so of course, that’s the lane our instructor made us drive on, which was terrifying. On the other tracks, we were the only car, however on this one, other cars were being tested so that made it a little more nerve-wracking for us.
As soon as we got in the car, our driver asked us the fastest we had gone, to which we replied, “118.” We were more than fine with our record, but he was not and was determined to beat that. He told us that the fastest you could go on the bowl was around 130 MPH, but that didn’t stop him from going over that. At one point, we were going 160 MPH and we thought we were going to die. We looked over and the driver was as calm and collected as could be. He acted as if it was nothing, but I guess when you do this for a living, it isn’t a big deal to drive that fast on a regular basis.
When it was our turn, we got up to 100 MPH pretty fast, but the driver kept telling us to go faster. We were sweating it a little since we were pretty much driving on the side of a wall, but we did it and got up to 120 MPH. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, he then told us to take our hands off the wheel. We refused. He kept telling us to do and it, and we finally looked at him and screamed, “Are you f*cking crazy?” He couldn’t help but laugh at how horrified we were, but he made us do it and soon we were driving 120 on the track with no hands.
The car hardly budged, almost like it was driving itself, and we then understood why it’s probably a good idea to take the performance-driving course if you’re fortunate enough to afford an Aston Martin. There’s no way you can see what this car can really do on a normal road.
We still can’t believe what an amazing opportunity we were given and how incredibly cool the people at Aston Martin were for letting us behind the wheel.
You can check out the DBS in Quantum of Solace when the movie hits theatres on November 14, and check back in the coming weeks for more from ComingSoon.net’s UK visit. More photos from the event are available here!