The inspiration for the blog arrived following a quiet Sunday in September, with both myself and Little M at a loose end. Aged around 15 months (it has taken me since September 2014 to write up our Day Out), he was mastering the word car, so when asked what he wanted to do for the day, the answer was clear.
Mrs M was a little sceptical about this plan of action. Taking a toddler to a motor racing circuit with no amenities in the middle of nowhere perhaps wasn’t going to fulfil his goals for the day.
Fortunately, we were all pleasantly surprised. Little M and I turned up on a relatively quiet race day, so were able to park behind the main grandstand and have a snack before starting our adventure.
Croft Motor Racing Circuit is based near Darlington in North Yorkshire. The weather wasn’t perfect by any means, but mainly dry. We did dive into the small cafe during one quick downpour.
The cafe was near the pits, where we could look into the garages and watch the mechanics work on the cars and also enjoy the bustling activity surrounding vehicles featured in the main races of the day.
Little M was interested in what was going on, but not a huge fan of the noise when some of the engines started up. We retreated to a trackside location at the top of a hill where he could enjoy a great vantage point whilst in his pram.
The landscape was relatively easy to navigate, although the final uphill push did require enough effort for us to remain at the top for a good hour or so! This was in part due to the pleasure Little M got from watching the cars fly past. Now at a very safe distance, where the sound was much quieter, he thoroughly enjoyed pointing out each car as it passed by.
Choosing his favourite colours or size of the vehicle seemed to capture his imagination. We also had a stroll around the hilltop to stretch his legs and he loved the journey back down to the bottom, where there was also a large field where we had a little runaround. The field was well away from the race track and bringing a ball would have been a good idea.
The next stage of our visit took us to the support race cars. From classic cars, minis and sports cars, there was a wide range of vehicles to discuss with Little M who consistently liked the white ones! We had a great time watching tyres being changed, engines being ‘managed’ and cars being prepared for the next race.
If your child is a runner, then some reigns would be a good idea as there are a lot of cars moving around and plenty of unusual noises. By this point, I was pushing the pram and carrying our toddler, so no risk this time!
For lunch we visited a mobile cafe for my burger, with Matthew sharing my burger bun.. The cafe does have some Jacket Potatoes etc… but a little bread and an Ella’s Kitchen Pouch removed the stress of searching for child-friendly options.
It was at this point we made our way to parc-ferme to view some of the cars up close and see the drivers, which again M enjoyed as they waved at him.
During a particular phase of rough weather we were able to drive the car to another part of the race track and sit inside watching the racing unfold. We always carry extra food supplies – so Matthew and I were both happy.
I imagine on high profile race days such as touring cars and Formula 3, such access isn’t possible and the flexibility we enjoyed, including leaving the pram whilst we explored the grandstands or driving around the circuit, would not be available.
The target audience for Croft is not sleep-deprived dads with toddlers in prams. However, everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Apart from completing nappy changes in the car and the odd panic caused by a loud engine, it was an enjoyable mix of fresh air, walking, entertainment and something very different.
It inspired me to start my blog. Providing ideas for days out that hopefully give dads the confidence to push the boundaries of sanitised play.
Croft was a great day out for me. Little M was at an age where he was still happy to view from a pram whilst I simply lacked the energy required for anything more energetic!
I am a motor racing fan, so it was always going to be a good day for me and well worth the challenges of visiting a non-child focussed location. We had great fun, learnt a lot and will be returning for another dads day out.
One of the more challenging days out in many ways, however, it will remain one of our most memorable adventures as one of our first #DadDaysOut and something that was completely new and different for Little M.
Watching the cars speed around the track, pottering around the pits and running around the available space, the expected lack of children’s facilities were compensated for, by the overall outdoor experience.