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Wisconsin Parent

Drive A Tank in Kasota, Minnesota

Sep 02, 2014 08:00AM ● By Julie Henning
A minivan driving mom of three, sometimes it feels like I should be wearing combat boots and making my kids "drop and give me twenty" every time they sass back. But when I was on a girlfriends-getaway to Mankato, Minnesota earlier this summer, I was presented with the opportunity to put these skills to the test—driving a demilitarized Abbot SPG open hatch British military tank.

Driving the Abbot SPG through a densely wooded course—complete with giant mud puddle—is the highlight of the 3-Star ($399) experience at Drive A Tank in Kasota, Minnesota, a family-owned business that owns over two dozen authentic military tanks and military vehicles from around the world.

IMG_8134Upon arriving at Drive A Tank, all patrons must sit through a safety training presentation that ends with a history of tanks, their uses, common misconceptions, and the various positions in the crew (from the driver to the gunner, commander, and loader). Heading out onto the course, you learn that while driving a tank is relatively easy (the Abbot uses two levers and two pedals) the conditions of a real-life combat situation are not.

IMG_8167Having navigated through the course with relatively minor damage to the forest, and a muddy pair of jeans*, we headed indoors to fire an authentic fully-automatic STEN machine gun. My heart was pounding after this experience, and while it was somewhat of a total rush, the real takeaway here is never to mess with my friend Amanda.

IMG_9510While it's becoming a popular Midwest attraction, Drive A Tank has drawn customers from across the United States an around the world. A relatively short (1 hour and 15 minute) drive from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, nearby Mankato has a regional airport that services non-commercial airlines.

IMG_8132With more expensive 4-Star and 5-Star experiences and add-ons that that include driving additional tanks, firing more guns, crushing cars and mobile homes, and operating heavy equipment used for combat engineering, it's worth your time to follow the Drive A Tank Facebook page for occasional specials (you can also check Groupon for bulk deals). Ideal for corporate team building events, special celebrations (birthdays and bachelor parties), and even retired military personnel, the Drive a Tank experience if one you won't ever forget.

IMG_9496*Note: As it turns out, some tanks have openings in the floor for the purposes of air circulation. If you drive like a bat out of hell through the mud puddle, plan to get soaked.