Racing Forwards, Back in Time
Stumped for your team-building day out? Leave karting to the kids and bag yourself a day on the track at Goodwood
Do you want me to tell you it’s tame or that it’s James Bond levels of dangerous? It’s probably a bit of both - reasonably tame if you know what you’re doing and extremely dangerous if you’re going to drive like a small child on a sugar high. Of course, this is Goodwood - a circuit black listed by the FIA in 1966 for refusing to introduce chicanes to temper the speed of modern race cars. But who needs a 2017 Ford GT when you've got an E-Type at your disposal?
Goodwood invited a group of journalists to experience what team building days out are like when you have a swanky job. We're used to bemoaning the death of print (been doing that since the printing press was invented) and shivering in fear over the rise of the internet (the Stone Age didn't finish because we ran out of stones, boys) over a pint at the local 'Spoons for our fun "away days". You'd imagine that for a group of motoring journalists an afternoon lapping round Goodwood is a bit of a busman's holiday. But actually, there's only one of us who's been round the circuit. And it ain't me.
After a leisurely and casual lunch in the clock tower and a tongue in cheek safety briefing given by two characters kitted up to add some theatre to the occasion (as if it were needed) we’re given a walk of the grid. Spectacles worn at the end of the nose, the assembled car journalists inspect the wheels and hang back with cool reserve. I missed the cars that are available - the details waft over my head - I was probably instagramming.
Everyone is lusting over the powder blue Porsche, a meaty Ford Falcon and a very, very pretty Alfa. But I’ve got my eyes set on the Mini.
In I get. This isn't just the first time I've been around Goodwood - this is the first time I’ve ever been round a *track*. I'm not nervous - just cautious. But the bumpers on the bowling alley are up, as it were. Signs positioned round the track let you know when to turn and break and where the apex is for you to gently kiss as you sail by and head towards the next marker.
I’m glad I’m in the Mini. Nice and slow in the straights and with me behind the wheel, nice and slow in the corners too. I'm lapped, obviously, by pretty much ever other car on the circuit. But that's ok. I'm intent on driving the cars slowly and then I will drive them more rapidly when I am ready.
Back at the pits you could imagine everyone would be getting extremely competitive. Hell, even I wore driving boots to this shindig. But there's another character, Viv the Spiv who’s here to dampen rising testosterone levels with his incredibly poor but comforting Dad jokes and offers of cuppas. He offers some definitely unnecessary but worthwhile comic relief while we kick our heels and hop around waiting to get into the next car. Any thoughts of competition fly out of the window. Because none of us are on the track at the same time in the same level of car, comparisons are impossible and instead we fall into easy banter about which car has been the most fun to drive. This, quite frankly, is unchartered territory among motoring journos.
After an unsuccessful go at learning how to fish with the Porsche gear box and being reacquainted with my biceps while wrestling it around Lavant, I feel like I’m going around the track at dangerously slow speeds. It’s beyond the pale. It’s an odd bit of psychology for me - even though I know I’m meant to be going fast, I’m not sure how fast I’m allowed to go. I confide in our the chief instructor for the day, David.
“David, I think my last instructor might have been a bit bored.”
We jump in the Morgan. David warns me that he’s going to be shouting at me. I went to a British boarding school. I am absolutely fine with being shouted at, “Right then. Head out of the pits.” He instructs. And then the shouting begins “GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!” In response I scream with laughter. The gear box is tight and my foot is flat against the floor. The three laps are over too soon - once more? Yes, obviously. But then I start to make mistakes - I know I need to steer on the throttle to hit the second apex at Magdwick, but I can’t quite find the strength to trust myself, and the car, to seemingly bend physics. One more time round, just to see if I can nail Magdwick - but it’s not there. We go in. I’m knackered.
The sun is setting over the track, Viv the Spiv is packing up his bag of stockings and cigarettes and the cars are being put to bed. I’ve got a massive case of the Sunday night blues despite it being a Tuesday and it seems everyone else does too.
Seems that’s the only downside to a Revival Racing experience.
For full details of the Revival Racing Day experience, click here
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