As the motorsport writer for Driven I've been privileged to have experienced hot laps in all manner of racecars. I've sat next to a World Rally Championship winner, World Touring Car champion, V8 Supercars champion, New Zealand V8 champion, production car champion and many others.
I have also raced motorcycles professionally and dabbled in production car racing, but nothing compares with being flung around a race track in a genuine Formula One car.
The Arrows A21 was the car that the Arrows F1 team used in the 2000 season. It was driven by young Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa in his second year with the team, and by experienced Dutchman Jos Verstappen.
Driven got the call from driver Andrew Higgins, who these days is heavily involved in racing F5000s, asking if we'd be interested in experiencing a full-noise blast as a passenger in an F1 car.
Formula One Rides NZ has managed to get its hands on two Arrows AX3 cars - the only ones of their type in the Southern Hemisphere. At the time of manufacture, Arrows team chief Tom Walkinshaw said: "The AX3 has been designed to give a truer experience than ever before of what a Formula One driver sees and feels from the cockpit.
"A lot has been written about the acceleration, g-forces and braking capabilities of these racing cars and we are now furthering the opportunity to give people an appreciation of what it's like."
And, oh boy, was Walkinshaw right. The F1 experience starts from the time you walk into the pit garage at Hampton Downs and see the two F1 cars in the same livery they used when Verstappen and de la Rosa where howling around some of the most famous tracks in Europe.
There aren't too many people who can get that close to an F1 car and then peer over the rear wing and see the engine in all its glory with the cowling removed. And the sound even at warm-up idle - yeehaa - was the sound of a "real" F1 car - not the strange, strangled sound of the 2014 cars.
A V10 engine revving to 15,000 is a racecar engine, a 1.6 V6 turbo charged thing is what you use to go shopping with.
Anyway, back to the ride of my life. You even get to experience how long it takes to get suited, booted and helmeted before trying to shoehorn yourself into the "cosy" spot behind the driver. All other single-seater rides have the passenger sitting directly behind the driver so vision is impaired and the experience of having no roof diminished. In the AX3 the fuel cell size has been reduced and the sidepods widened to allow for two passengers to slot in behind the driver. In this position you get a clear view and feel the full force of the wind rush, and the front wheel seems bloody close.
After the palaver of dressing, getting in and being belted up it was time to leave the pit garage. Unlike sitting in a V8 Supercar which sounds like it's about to implode as it pops, bangs and lurches down pit lane, the F1 barks into life and soon settles into a muted howl.
Higgins selected first, the clutch bit and we shot off, surprisingly smoothly, towards the pit exit. Accelerating on to the track proper the engine took on a whole new note hinting that there was still a hell of a lot to come.
The first lap was all about weaving, bursts of acceleration and hard braking, as the pads, rotors and tyres were bought up to temperature. Just as I was thinking this was fun, Higgins unleashed the ravenous hounds of hell.
The sound of 10 cylinders on full song just behind your head is incredible. Now we were flying.
I'm sure there were braking markers somewhere - I never saw them and flying underneath the lights gantry on the front straight still at full noise heading into turn one was more than a little disturbing.
Flying into turn one Higgins had the car dancing through the long right-hander. You could smell the burning rubber coming of the tyres as they worked to their maximum. Amazing.
The way the AX3 accelerates and then stops makes your head bob almost continuously. I don't remember breathing or blinking during the laps - fantastic.
The Driver: Andrew Higgins.
Duration: Allow one hour for your F1 Rides experience. A comprehensive timeline will be delivered upon booking confirmation. Gear: Race overalls and helmet fitting. Take off: Three laps of adrenalin as a F1 passenger. To organise your own personal rush visit formula1ridesnz.co.nz