Drive a tank, crush a car — you’ll feel better


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Tank America offers customers the opportunity to drive a tank and crush cars.

SENIOR LIFE Courtesy of Tank America

 

In what must be the optimal frustration-relieving experience, Tank America offers its guests the opportunity to crush a car while driving a tank.

How cool is that?

The West Melbourne attraction, which opened in January, allows guests to take the wheel of a genuine military tank that, if you opt for the car-crushing option, can easily roll over an unsuspecting and decommissioned BMW or Cadillac or Toyota that Tank America obtains from junkyards.

“We support the local scrap yards and are happy to crush whatever vehicles that they deliver to us,” said Dr. Scott Benjamin, a professor at Florida Tech’s Bisk School of Business and one of the partners in the Tank America venture.

The fleet of vintage armored vehicles from the 1960s includes British Abbot FV-432 and 433s purchased from collectors and brokers from as far away as the United Kingdom. The vehicles were tough to maintain when new and are even more demanding now.

“Locating, purchasing and maintaining the vehicles has certainly been one of the most challenging aspects of the business,” Benjamin said.

The tank experience is particularly attractive to boomers seeking to check off a bucket list item. The fun begins with transport from the main building to base camp on an FV-432 armored personnel carrier, or APC.

“Folks are armed with replica M4 rifles and helmets and experience what it feels like riding half a mile in the belly of the APC,” Benjamin said.

“Most people come out of the APC with a profound respect for what our troops go through.”

Guests then board the FV-433s, aka British Abbot Self-Propelled Guns, 16 tons of charging power that feature a 105mm gun mounted on the turret. The guns are only for display, but military veterans on staff at Tank America instruct guests on the mechanics of driving the tank. According to Benjamin, most participants get the hang of it in five minutes, but just to make sure everything goes as planned, an instructor rides along with guests.

Guests can drive a half-mile obstacle course that includes hills, hairpin turns, straightaways and a mud hole. The more daring among the participants can maneuver the tank over a scrap car during five different passes over the vehicle.

“It is incredibly exciting,” Benjamin said.

Such excitement, however, comes at a cost.

The “Basic Training Package,” which includes briefing, APC ride and tank driving experience, is $349. The “Advanced Troops Package” adds a car crush experience, free passenger to ride along in the turret plus a Go-Pro video of the whole experience at $849.

Tank America is located at 9150 Ellis Road in West Melbourne. The facility is open from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 10:30 p.m on Saturdays and noon until 9 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 321-241-1122 or go to tankamerica.com.