From car racing to karting and even motorbike track days, you can try it all at circuits across the UAE.
Car fans are spoilt for choice in the UAE. Almost every vehicle you can imagine is available to drive on two of the country’s biggest circuits – Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit.
Dubai Autodrome in Motor City features six different track configurations, three of which can be run simultaneously. From the full-length 5.39km grand prix circuit to the short and quick 1.12km oval track, there are a number of different challenges.
Fans of sportscars will be particularly impressed with the circuit’s range of Audis, with experiences available behind the wheel of an Audi TT 2.0 Turbo and an R8 V10. Other saloon car options include an American muscle car driving session in a 436bhp Camaro SS, or a blast around the circuit in the Renault Clio Cup Race Car, which has been fully-customised to tackle the track.
Formula One enthusiasts can get a feel for single-seater racing in specially-prepared cars on the oval circuit, with different stages available depending on the driver’s experience.
Best known for hosting the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit also runs regular driving experiences throughout the year. To get a taste of what it must be like to be a Formula One driver, the circuit offers the Formula Yas 3000 experience. The highly-tuned single-seater racer is fitted with a 3.0L, V6 engine and offers substantial levels of grip and power. The experience also features feedback from a qualified racing instructor.
Another car offering a thoroughbred racing experience is the Yas Radical SST, which is similar in specifications to a Le Mans sportscar. The Aston Martin GT4, while looking identical to its road-going counterpart, is also designed specifically for the track.
Drivers can also give drag racing a go in a Chevrolet Camaro SS. The American muscle car is capable of reaching 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds and can complete Yas Marina’s dedicated quarter-mile drag racing strip in a fraction over 13 seconds.
Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700). Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.yasmarinacircuit.com/en (800 927 / 02 659 9800).
While there are, as yet, no specialised bike experiences available in the UAE, keen riders can take to the circuit during dedicated track days. Dubai Autodrome runs regular days throughout the year on different circuit layouts. All motorbikes must be road worthy and will be checked before being allowed out on to the track. Once cleared, riders are free to push themselves and their machines to the limit.
Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).
Conveniently located inside Al Wasl Sports Club, Emirates Kartzone offers a range of driving experiences. Depending on availability, it’s possible to just turn up for an arrive and drive session, with 15, 30 or 45-minute driving time options. Kartzone can also be booked for private events with various race formats available, making it perfect for a work outing or birthday party.
Meanwhile, with different circuit configurations, driver training, a kart school, dedicated shop and regular races, Al Ain Raceway is the place for serious karters. If you’re new to sport, then there are arrive and drive packages, including a briefing and equipment. There are also private event options if you want to make a day of it. For budding Lewis Hamiltons, Al Ain Raceway offers plenty of options to take the sport to the next level, making it a good all-round venue.
Dubai Autodrome also has a ‘Kartdrome’, with outdoor and indoor tracks and plenty of driving packages. Yas Marina Circuit, too, has substantial karting options available for all skill levels and requirements.
At both Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit, karters can turn up on a whim for the arrive and drive packages, go along with colleagues for a corporate karting event, or take the kids along.
Emirates Kartzone, Al Wasl Sports Club, www.emirateskartzone.net (050 426 3424). Al Ain Raceway, Al Ain, visit www.alainraceway.com (03 768 6662).
For those who prefer two wheels to four, the Dubai Motorcross Club is where you'll find all manner of sand-spraying action for all levels. The Club is located next to Jebel Ali, next to the karting track, and facilities include both a junior and senior track. Membership is open year-round, but non-members are welcome, too. DMX hosts regular practise days, which are overseen by a track manager and open to both motorcross and quad bikes. Classes for all ages starting from four years are available, and a two-hour lesson is usually enough to get a complete beginner riding on the track. Serious motorcross fans can enter the UAE National Championships competing with other riders for points on race days throughout the year -check the website for details.
Membership: Dhs1,200 (single), Dhs1,500 (family). Dubai Motorcross Club, Jebel Ali, opp Jebel Ali Free Zone, www.dubaimotocross.com.
If hopping over the dunes and achieving air-time in a dune buggy sounds like fun then you're in luck. Explorer Tours offers thrill-seekers the choice of a single-seater or two-seater buggy, the more powerful latter boasting 110HP, but both are equally fun. Their half-day tour takes place in an area of desert around 30 minutes's drive from Dubai, with morning and afternoon pick-ups. After a quick safety briefing drivers pull on their helmets, buckle up and chase the lead driver at the front, who takes the convoy along a 10km track through the desert. If you're concerned about staying in control, you needn't be. Truth is, dune buggies are easy to operate -particularly the single seaters, which are entirely automatic and require no gear changes. And if you do get stuck in the sand, the team are on hand to haul you out with a pick-up truck.
Single seater: Dhs500 per person, Dhs375 per person sharing. Two seater: Dhs395 per person. Explorer Tours, www.explorertours.ae, email@example.com (04 286 1991).