If you’ve ever watched a movie with a thrilling car chase scene and dreamed of getting behind the wheel to try some of the death-defying stunts yourself, BMW may be able to help you. Since Goodwood partnered with BMW the car manufacturer has created a Spin and Slide course; a specially coated track where you can learn to drift like a boss. I was invited down by the car giant to test out the experience one gloomy Sunday, check out below to see how I got on.
Getting to Goodwood Motor Circuit is easy, if you have a car. Unfortunately I sold my motor car a while back (I still miss it terribly) and arrived instead via a scenic train journey from London. Passing through some gorgeous villages (note: Arundel Caste is now on my to do list) I turned up in Chichester around two hours before my appointment. Taking the advice of the Telegraph I attempted to catch a bus to the racetrack, whereby I learned that no buses run to Goodwood, especially on Sunday. My taxi there and back cost me just over £20, so all those arriving via train should bear that in mind when travelling here.
Once I’d arrived I was free to wander the grounds, which besides the BWM tracks also contain a flight school where some aviators were mucking around in a small plane when I passed.
The whole grounds feel like an homage to the motoring industry, with a quaint motor themed café and bar (open in the summer) and memorial statues to great racers of the past.
The spin and slide track is located at the back of the course, occupying a small ring opposite a reception area and with hundreds of spaces to park. While I waited I watched some people try their hand at drifting and I got a chance to drool over the car I would be driving.
What I loved about this experience was its practical use. While a racing track would be fun, I know no matter how hard I try I’ll never drive like Michael Schumacher, because I already drive too much like Michael Sharpe (my papa). However, a course where you can experience the thrills of drifting in an situation that doesn’t see me end up recruited by Japanese drift racers or facing a lengthy prison sentence was very appealing.
After meeting my excellent instructor, Kevin, I was introduced to my whip; a shiny white BMW M3. With 400hp, Twin Power Turbo engine and a value of £40,000 you probably won’t be surprised to hear it was the fanciest and most eye-wateringly expensive car I’ve ever driven.
Kevin took me around the track a few times, demonstrating the vast difference with and without the automatic stability control, which holds the car to the ground like glue even in the most difficult conditions.
Then it was my turn. Gunning the throttle around the corner, the car quickly slipped and spun around three full turns. I was powerless to control the spin. Drifting, it would seem, required incredible concentration, reactions and a small dose of luck.
A few rounds later and I learned that even the smallest error can throw the car off course. What you need to do to complete the perfect drift is approach the bend with half turn of the wheel around 10mph then gently accelerate, as soon as the drift begins you have milliseconds to compensate with the wheel, apply the gas as soon as the car is righted and repeat. Lighting fast reactions and an ability to read the car are essential here.
After just one hour I have a new found respect for stuntmen, you’d have to be incredibly talented to drift a car perfectly. This was my first time behind the wheel of a high-performance car and I’m already daydreaming about getting back behind the wheel.
As well as teaching a valuable lesson in dealing with bad conditions this course is perfect for anyone with a love of technical driving who is desperate for the opportunity to take on a new challenge. If you want to go fast however, the high-octane performance track next door is better suited to your needs.
Have you visited Goodwood? How did you find the experience? Let me know how you got on by commenting below.
I was asked to come and experience the Spin and Slide track by BMW, but as always the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Need something a little more thrilling to sate your appetite? Check out the original Jack the Ripper tour.