Track days in the era of Covid-19: the Goodwood way

Published: 28 August 2020

► Goodwood track day put to the corona-test
► How track days are changed by coronavirus
► Thrills - and social distancing - aplenty

Coronavirus might've put paid to a lot of people's summer holidays but it hasn't stopped track day lovers from enjoying a dose of high-adrenaline fun on circuits up and down the land.

Governing bodies have authorised track days to restart with coronavirus precautions in place and we dropped in on a Goodwood event held at the idyllic West Sussex course for a feature in the next issue of CAR magazine.

The Duke of Richmond’s flagship motorsport events have sadly been cancelled for 2020 - neither the Festival of Speed nor the Revival are taking place this year - but this autumn's new SpeedWeek will cherry-pick the best bits of both for a behind-closed-doors, streamed-via-social-media extravaganza that will air from 16-18 October.

Goodwood track days post Covid

But Goodwood is already holding track days and has adapted its tried-and-tested formula to the needs of a post-coronavirus age: hand sanitising, social distancing and on-track etiquette have all been introduced to keep attendees safe and away from the dreaded lurgy.

More on Goodwood track days

How much do Goodwood track days cost?

We attended one of Goodwood's own branded events, which come with the usual attention to detail that marks out its classy approach to motorsport. They also hire out the circuit to third parties, but then you're into the wild west of independent trackday operators. You pays your money, you takes your chances...

Goodwood track days are priced thus:

Noise limit 98dB 105dB
Half day £160 £180
Full day £310 £349

Goodwood's noise restrictions are a little more generous than some tracks, so the louder days are popular. Cars are noise-tested on the way in and spicier machinery will have to duck under the limit and/or drive carefully on circuit, especially near the strategically placed noise sensors.

Ferraris, Porsches, Minis, Ariels and red-hot VW Golf R Estates at the Goodwood track day

What’s a Goodwood track day like?

In a word: brilliant. We visited on a scorching summer’s day, when the track was dry and grippy, the sky powder blue and the paddock blessed with sunshine and the most formidable collection of track toys you could imagine (see above). If Heineken made track days, they would probably look a bit like this…

You get a different class of car at Goodwood and our Bentley Continental GT long-termer was joined by a rather more focused Ferrari Pista, a smattering of Aston Martins old and new, an Ariel Nomad, rabid classic Mini, the inevitable Porsche 911s and Cayman GTs and a brawny VW Golf R Estate with the wick turned up past 11 that monstered most things in its path.

Lunch at Goodwood track day

Sign-on was done outdoors, socially distanced, where we were briefed about emergency precautions in the case of an off (responders would arrive in PPE, so it’s important to signal if you’re ok or need assistance) and generally guided through the customary on-track etiquette. You can sign up for a half or full day, with a tasty Goodwood-spec packed lunch the dividing point. We’d recommend staying for lunch, served from a glam horse box (above).

You’ll get a minimum of 15 minutes of driving per hour, subject to track stoppages from 9.00-12.30pm in the morning session and from 1.30-5.00pm in the afternoon. It’s an experience you won’t forget - enjoying the high-speed corners, the adrenaline of Madgewick, the ballsiness test stringing together St Mary’s and Lavant, and the thrill of navigating one of England’s most scenic tracks, nestling in the shadow of the South Downs and memories of Stirling Moss and Spitfires. It’s the quintessential smart trackday and comes highly recommended. 

Look out for the full feature in the October 2020 issue of CAR magazine 

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet