For The Jaguar, we delved into the mechanics of devising a surprising adrenaline rush, meeting three professionals who design thrills. Author Geoff Poulton and photographer Roderick Aichinger met the protagonists at their workplaces.

"The track should be a challenge for drivers and a thrill for spectators."

Hermann Tilke

Hermann Tilke is sitting at his desk with a white shirt on and an extended route map in front of him

Hermann Tilke designs Formula 1 tracks

When Hermann Tilke was 18 years old, he borrowed his mother's car. But he didn't want to take it to a friend's house or to the movies. "I put a roll cage in it and drove cross-country in it," he says. "When she found out, she didn't think it was so funny!"

A modest beginning for a man who is one of the most influential personalities in motorsport today. Although Tilke didn't make it to the top as a driver—"I was a good amateur, but it wasn't enough for the professional sector"—he is the undisputed king of track development, having designed more than 75.

Almost all the tracks in use for Formula 1 racing today have been designed or modified by the German and his team at Tilke Engineers & Architects.

"That's my passion: to explore the phenomenon of thrills."

Brendan Walker

Roller coaster engineer Brendan Walker sits on an orange chair and looks into the camera

Brendan Walker designs roller coasters

"Did you know that there is a gene for adventure?" asks Brendan Walker. People who possess a certain dopamine receptor are more likely to seek the thrill, he explains. "I had my DNA tested some time ago. I possess this receptor - which doesn't surprise me at all."

Walker, who calls himself a "thrill engineer", has been involved in the development of some of the UK's best known roller coasters and amusement rides, such as Wicker Man and Thirteen at Alton Towers. His design is all about "tailor-made emotional experiences".

"Thrill is both pleasure and excitement - dopamine and adrenaline. In order to evoke thrill, both aspects have to be increased quickly and sharply together," says Walker.

"It's nature. I don't build highways. My goal is to change as little as possible."

Bernard Russi

Bernhard Russi stands in front of a wall with several skis and ski poles.

Bernhard Russi designs ski slopes

A world-class downhill skier can reach a speed of over 150 km/h - faster than the road speed limit in most countries. "But speed is not everything," says Bernhard Russi. "A good course does not just lead straight downhill. It needs wide curves and high jumps. I want the best skiier to win, but I also want the crowd to have fun."

In the 1970s, Russi was an Olympic downhill skiing champion; today he is a much sought-after developer of ski slopes. Since 1988, the Swiss has been responsible for all but one Olympic downhill slopes. His Face de Bellevarde in Val d'Isère is regarded as a turning point in downhill skiing, transforming the sport from a straightforward rush of speed into a technically demanding yet spectator-friendly event.

  • Illustrative sketch of a Formula 1 track by Hermann Tilke
    Formula 1 track, developed by Hermann Tilke. Illustration: Mathis Rekowski
  • Illustration sketch of a roller coaster developed by Brendan Walker
    Roller coaster designed by Brendan Walker. Illustration: Mathis Rekowski
  • Sketch of a ski run developed by Bernhard Russi
    Downhill ski run designed by Bernhard Russi. Illustration: Mathis Rekowski

For further extraordinary insights by the thrill-makers, read Issue 05 of The Jaguar.

Cover of The Jaguar 05 with Eva Green
Crafting the whole story The Jaguar 05

From 2014 to 2019, in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover's in-house creative agency Spark44, we produced the customer magazine for Jaguar. Translated into twelve languages and distributed globally, The Jaguar offers fascinating insights behind the scenes of the car brand, exclusive interviews, fast-paced test drives and details about the latest Jaguar models.