I had the chance to take part in the half day introduction to the Ariel Atom this weekend at the Drive an Atom Experience. Now I’ve never driven a race car before or on a real race track so this was an interesting and fun experience that I’d rank up there with learning to dogfight that I did several years ago. These events are held at the Virginia International Raceway near Danville VA which is also where TMI Autotech builds the Atoms for the US market. I got to meet the owner of TMI and learn about the Spec: RaceAtom (SRA) we were driving and the Atom circuit they are in the process of starting up and taking national. It was hot… pushing 100 by the time we wrapped up at 11am but it was still great fun and I’d highly recommend it if you have any interest in motorsports or the Atom specifically.
I’ve been watching the development of this car from version 1 back before they were building them here.. and the concept of a stripped down and affordable purpose built performance machine always appealed to me. Sure for the same money you could pick up certain models of other ‘sports cars’ but none are even close to the level of performance you get from an Atom. This is a no compromise vehicle and like anything that’s ‘no compromise’ you have to deal with the limitations while enjoying the benefits. This might not be the commuter car for everyone…but If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.
Here are a couple laps recorded from my car cam on the last session. We were not racing here.. and were supposed to maintain a certain gap and encouraged to not get above 4th gear to help keep the car on the black. This was further encouraged by being personally liable for up 10k worth of damage to the car. The track is 1.1 miles and is fairly twisty… I wasn’t watching the speedo much but I was topping out at around 85 on the straights.