Goodwood launches ‘ultimate’ driving experience | by Damien Smith
There’s a bivouac in the depths of the forest, complete with blazing log fire, hot drinks and pastries – served by a butler. Yes, once again we’ve discovered the Goodwood touch, the added extra you wouldn’t get at Silverstone, Brands Hatch or anywhere else. Standards within the driving experience market, so vital as revenue earners for race tracks, have just been raised a notch or three.
Goodwood launched its ‘Ultimate Driving’ package, in partnership with BMW, on a rain-sodden October day. The conditions offered the perfect test for the armada of BMW X5s on the ‘Adventure’ off-road experience, which utilises 32 miles of tracks through Goodwood’s rolling 12,000-acre estate. On such a scale, it’s no wonder the instructors take the odd wrong turn, but that only adds to the sense of adventure.
The dense woodlands of the chalky south downs are perfect for challenging the capabilities of the X5, which is equal to most – if not all – this ancient landscape can throw at it. The forests are the perfect playground for such activity and the only surprise is that it’s taken this long for Lord March and his team to make the most of them.
Later, we sampled the ‘Performance’ package at the race circuit, consisting of laps with an instructor first in a Mini and then in a selection of BMW’s impressive fleet. The lairy power of the M6 kept us alert on a sopping track, but the wonderful torque of the brilliant Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo was better suited to the conditions. Ms 3, 4 and 5 were also available, while our inner hooligan was sated by powerslides on the skid pan in an M235i.
Then, for something completely different, there’s a Rolls-Royce Wraith to offer a taste of the finest things in life – although we don’t think that’s available for drifting.
Activities are not cheap but, typically for Goodwood, they’re not short of value. Off-road, £195 will buy you 90 minutes, with a full day of driving priced at £375, although we’d suggest a half-day, at £275, is more than enough. On the track, two hours of M-Series Performance Driving costs £350, with four hours at £620. There’s also an Academy for under-17s consisting of skidpan and circuit driving in a Mini, with prices ranging from £65-199.
For more information go to www.grrc.goodwood.com