Woody Allen famously said, “Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing.”
Well, clearly he’s never been in a police car during a serious pursuit. And I have to disagree about the laughing bit. Great sex does not have to be exclusive of humour. But pursuit driving certainly does. One of the most exhilarating moments of my life was a 45 minute long car chase in and around Brighton a year ago, in pursuit of a stolen vehicle. With a total of 7 cars, including dog-handlers, involved the suspect was safely stopped and arrested, but I was on an adrenaline high for days after and I suspect the police officers involved were, too.
I spent last Thursday in a series of marked and unmarked police cars, watching officers going through various stages of response and pursuit driving training, in the company of the senior Sussex Police Driver Training Officer. The highlight was traveling from Lewes to Dunsfold and back in an unmarked high-powered Volvo, with a police Armed Response Unit officer going through his final stages of high speed driving assessment. We drove on the blues and twos all the way there and back, and the experience of being with a safe, competent driver, who really knew what he was doing, driving at well above the national limit for the best part of an hour and a half, was a rare treat, and reminded me of the glorious days of driving, when I was a child, before we had the 70 limit (and the fun still to be had on German Autobahns – where I got my Aston Vanquish up to 185mph a few years back!)
Then I was in for another, unexpected treat. Dunsfold, a disused aerodrome in Surrey, is where the Police do their skidpan training. But… it is also where Top Gear is filmed. As we arrived, we saw a blue Jaguar doing a series of high-speed power slides past a camera crew. We stopped to watch for some minutes, then the Jaguar came over to us and Jeremy Clarkson climbed out! He walked over to the car, curious to know who we were, suspicious that we might be journalists sneaking pictures. When he saw the police uniforms he relaxed and was very pleasant and chatty. So now I am one step nearer to one of my dreams – to do that Top Gear circuit sprint in a reasonably priced car…..
Jeremy Clarkson at the helm filming Top Gear
Jeremy PJ at the helm on the skid pan, under the eagle eye of Roger Pitts, Senior Driving Instructor and Tony Case HQ CID Senior Support Officer