The elderly German gent sitting next to me had been blessed with a fairly generous mid-section, no doubt helped along by large quantities of fine, Bavarian brew. This meant that he was finding it a bit of a task to fit himself into the safety harness on the roller coaster’s seat, so I leaned across and helped him out. He grinned broadly and, assuming I was purebred German (as one does), said something that sounded like the wastegate on a very large turbocharger; I took it as an expression of thanks and smiled back at him. Behind and ahead of us, a gaggle of gushing, giggling girls got going gregariously g… sorry, I got a bit carried away. Let’s just say that there was a fair amount of squeaky noises and all-round commotion, and an air of intense anticipation above all else. There was a very good reason for all of this, because we weren’t strapped into any old county fair roller coaster – this was the Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, the main attraction at the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi; it was an F1 car-shaped bomb, and the fuse was about to be lit.
When everyone was properly seated, with goggles on, the coaster inched forward slowly, and I could see the track snake out into the distance, reaching 52 metres at its highest point. I was already wondering whether this was such a good idea – I’m not very good with heights. My German companion made a low, turbo-whistle noise as we inched further forward, finally coming to a halt on a short straight.
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