How to go on a wild ride with rally ace Pad­don

The Horowhenua Mail - - OUT & ABOUT -

Here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing at­trac­tion – South Korea’s very first mo­tor­ing theme park. Rob Maet­zig pays a visit.

Kiwi rally ace Hay­den Pad­don would have been pleased. He al­most made three NZ mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists car-sick – all at once.

Mind you, Pad­don wasn’t there. Not re­ally. But vir­tual ver­sions of he and his Kiwi co­drive John Ken­nard were on hand to take the jour­nal­ists – Yours Truly in­cluded – on a very en­er­getic vir­tual ride in their Hyundai i20WRC rally car. In 4-D in­side a dark­ened room. With us wear­ing 3-D glasses.

This 4-D sim­u­la­tor is one at­trac­tion at Hyundai Mo­torStu­dio Goyang, South Korea’s first mo­tor­ing theme park, which opened to the pub­lic in Goyang, just east of Seoul, a cou­ple of months ago.

Hyundai al­ready has sev­eral of th­ese Mo­torStu­dios in op­er­a­tion – in Seoul, the fel­low Korean city of Hanam, and in Moscow – and each one is de­signed to ex­hibit cer­tain el­e­ments of mo­tor­ing. For ex­am­ple, the Seoul ver­sion con­cen­trates on mo­tor­ing from the point of view of cul­ture and art, while the Hanam fa­cil­ity looks at the car­maker’s fu­ture vi­sion for mo­bil­ity.

But the new Mo­torStu­dio at Goyang is all about ve­hi­cles them­selves – how they are built, what they con­tain, how they are tested, and what it feels like to race them. It’s a mas­sive 64,000 square me­tre theme park ded­i­cated to the mo­tor ve­hi­cle. Which makes sense, con­sid­er­ing how im­por­tant ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing is to the Korean econ­omy.

It re­ally is an im­pres­sive place. Vis­i­tors can em­bark on tours in which they learn how steel is made, how the steel is stamped into ve­hi­cle body parts, how cars are as­sem­bled and welded, and how en­gines work.

They can walk through an airbag tun­nel that de­flates and in­flates at the touch of a hand, ex­pe­ri­ence a wind tun­nel, lis­ten in a gi­ant sound booth, and en­joy one spe­cial at­trac­tion that uses hun­dreds of alu­minium rods to cre­ate var­i­ous forms, in­clud­ing cars.

The vis­i­tors can also sit through a fas­ci­nat­ing vir­tu­al­re­al­ity drive along city streets that some­how turns into the car rock­et­ing down a crash-test fa­cil­ity and slam­ming into a solid ob­ject. It’s all very re­al­is­tic.

But not as re­al­is­tic as the cli­max to any visit to Mo­torStu­dio Goyang – the vir­tual ride with Pad­don.

Prior to en­ter­ing the the­atre we were warned that the vir­tual ride is ‘‘dy­namic’’, and that any­one prone to car-sick­ness, or with a heart con­di­tion, should re­con­sider tak­ing part in the ex­pe­ri­ence. As we walked in we were handed 3-D glasses, and af­ter we sat down a large bar was folded down in front of us and clicked into place.

A vir­tual Pad­don and Ken­nard flash up on the screen, wish­ing us good luck – and then the vir­tual drive starts.

We in­stantly dis­cov­ered why this ex­pe­ri­ence is called 4-D; the fourth di­men­sion is move­ment. As we sat in the vir­tual i20 rally car as it ca­reered through var­i­ous spe­cial stages, our seats vi­o­lently bucked and pitched. The ex­pe­ri­ence lasted six min­utes – by the colour of the faces of peo­ple who walked out at the end, it’s just as well it didn’t last longer.

But the ex­pe­ri­ence is a great way of pub­li­cis­ing the fact that the com­pany is heav­ily in­volved in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, and fur­ther rally-based ex­hibits at the Mo­torStu­dio un­der­line that.

That’s the whole point of fa­cil­i­ties such as this en­tire theme park – to cel­e­brate the im­por­tance of the mo­tor ve­hi­cle. And to have some fun at the same time. Al­though I sus­pect that af­ter that wild 4-D ride at Goyang, ‘‘fun’’ prob­a­bly wasn’t the best way to de­scribe how some of the par­tic­i­pants were feel­ing!

Hyundai’s WRC hero­ics take up plenty of dis­play space at Goyang. It in­cludes this i20 tak­ing to the air.

Sorry about the slight blur­ring – but th­ese car­toon fig­ures of Ki­wis Hay­den Pad­don (right) and his co-driver John Ken­nard were al­ready mak­ing the seats start to move.

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