HAVING A GO: Editor Susanna Freymark with champion driver Neal Bates before the test drive of the Border Ranges Rally in Wiangaree.
HAVING A GO: Editor Susanna Freymark with champion driver Neal Bates before the test drive of the Border Ranges Rally in Wiangaree. Susanna Freymark

What it's really like in a car going 175km/hour?

IT WASN'T easy fitting my six foot plus frame into the navigator seat of motorsports champ Neal Bates' car.

It wasn't easy pretending how much fun I was having either.

Confined spaces are not my thing yet in my fire retardant suit and helmet with neck brace, my long limbs were folded into the passnegr seat.

I wait at Wiangaree in a small, speedy Celica for a Border Ranges Rally test drive to start.

I smile at Bates as the car purrs along Lynches Creek Rd. This isn't so bad. But this isn't the race route.

As Bates turns onto the dirt race track I shout out to him;

"How many times have you crashed?”.

The speed hits 175km.

Bates is relaxed.

My eyes are shut as I hold out the iphone to film the action and record my possible dusty death.

Bates slides the rally car around the corners and over the single-lane bridge as if he is born to do this.

He was Australian Rally Champion four times and for 20 years, rally driving was his full-time job.

"At school the careers advisor asked what I wanted to be,” Bates said.

"I said a motor car racer.

"They sent me to the principal's office.”

The 3.5 kilometre race route takes less than two minutes. My head bangs sideways against the seat protectors, my grin is fixed, my life is in Bates' confident driver hands.

How was it? Bates asks when we finish.

I swear.

Out of relief.

Bates laughs and tells me about a passenger he once had who was so scared she bit into her lip.

"There was blood all over her,” Bates said.

No blood on me.

Fear maybe, but with my legs back on solid ground I laugh with him.