During the half-term break I was invited to stay at the Goodwood Hotel in Sussex in the South of England with my family.
Goodwood is an historic country house and estate which has been owned by the Dukes of Richmond since the seventeenth century. Besides Goodwood House the Estate includes the Goodwood horse racing track, an award-winning organic farm and the famous Goodwood motor circuit which opened in 1948 and hosts the annual Festival of Speed.
Under 17s driving academy
While we were at Goodwood my 16 year-old daughter was invited for a driving lesson at the motor circuit. She was thrilled because she can’t wait to be 17 so that she can learn to drive. My husband sat in the back of the car during the lesson and my son and I watched from the cafe next to the track. This is my daughter’s account of the experience:
My friends are all turning seventeen, learning to drive and passing their tests and I’m cursing mum for my summer birthday. So when we were invited to stay at Goodwood and I was given the opportunity to drive on their motor circuit I of course had to immediately say yes.
Having already done a Young Driver lesson at Bluewater, I had a vague idea of what was going to happen.
The main difference between the Young Driver lesson and the Goodwood Under-17s Academy was that the car I had previously driven was a manual, whereas the Mini I drove at Goodwood was an automatic. I was surprised at how much I could remember, although I am sure that if I had been driving a manual again I would have been hopeless with the clutch! I was very excited to be driving a Mini as it is my (and almost everyone’s) dream car.
The lesson lasted an hour, which is more than enough time to be able to learn loads. My instructor Kevin Crowley was incredibly helpful and has been a driving instructor for many years.
We started off talking about the checks you do before driving, which I could remember from my first lesson. We then drove around the track which helped me get used to the Mini’s steering, but was more difficult than usual as it was raining a lot.
Once I had got the hang of the steering, Kevin took me to the slalom. I was nervous at first as I had no idea how I would be. On my first try I missed a cone, but by my third I was driving quickly and had gained confidence.
After the slalom, we carried on going around the track. I learnt lots of new skills such as U-turns, reversing and how to accurately break. At the end of the lesson I was exhausted because I had been concentrating so much and had learnt a lot in such a short space of time. Thank you to Goodwood and Kevin for my lesson.’
My daughter enjoyed the lesson. As a parent I was happy that she was gaining valuable driving experience and that she was safe – Kevin told me that he and the other driving instructors at Goodwood are all government approved driving instructors and have been fully CRB checked.
The Under 17s driving academy launched this month as part of Goodwood’s Ultimate Driving Programme. There are also driving experiences on offer for adults including Winter Driving Techniques, Mastering Powerslides and Off-Road Adventure. The Under 17s Mini Cooper driving lessons at the circuit cost £99 per hour.
Disclosure: We were guests of the Goodwood Hotel and the Under 17s driving academy for the purposes of this review.