We currently offer a very bespoke driving course at Millbrook Proving Ground, which is available for owners of high-performance cars – more info. However, we have now created a concept course. We call it a concept as it’s currently only being tested internally, but we wanted to share. We call this course our Millbrook Gymkhana. A gymkhana is a series of events that test ability. Most relate the name to a horse event, but it’s also very relevant to driving too. At least it was in days gone by.

We were keen to create such a course as we wanted to maximise the use of the incredible facilities available at Millbrook, and also have a standardised, measured series of tests, which you can compare yourself, other drivers, or other cars you happen to drive. At the same time, there is also a very strong element of getting to know your car better and further refine your skills – especially when replicating ’emergency’ type situations. Track days, by comparison, are very good if you wish to drive at high speed, brake from high speed and corner at high speed, and get experience in ‘managing’ other track traffic. But when on a track, there isn’t a huge variety of options other than the track you are on. This is where Millbrook Gymkhana comes in.

Millbrook Gymkhaha is a concept course, where results are recorded on a specific training marking sheet, so you have documented times you can refer back to. Here are the key parts of the course;

Steering Pad – Clock face point to point: Here, you are measuring the time it takes to complete a short ‘lap’ of the steering pad. It tests how well you can drive a car to a set number of points. A sprint and hill climb driving style is needed here, where neatness and accuracy will give you the best time. You will also get to practice a J Turn. This has no real benefit to everyday driving other than if you need to make a very quick Hollywood car scene-style, anti-hijacking exit. It’s fun, so we included it.

Mile Straight – How fast can you brake to a standstill from 100mph? This is all about the quick and controlled application of the brakes. Very few people get to experience braking to a standstill from such a high speed, and when they do, it’s often in a life-threatening situation. Knowing how to apply the brakes when at such a very high speed, with the objective of stopping in the shortest possible time, is fun and a very good thing to experience. Most drivers usually don’t brake hard enough earlier on and only increase the pressure on the brakes as they reach a slower, more manageable speed. This is generally not the best way to do things in most conditions. Experiencing the brakes, how the car reacts, and how you react are vital learning experiences.

Dynamics Pad – (Track will be wet). Here, we look at how fast you can corner, creating a mini roundabout. It mainly helps you feel what your car is like when pushing hard in wet conditions more than what speed you can get to, although your max speed will be recorded here. You can do this with traction control on or off. We suggest with it on as 99.999% of the time when on the road you will be driving with traction control on. You will also be doing a figure of eight between two cones, so again, you can experience tight corners, hard braking and accelerating in the wet – and observe how your car responds and what you can do as a driver to keep control. Again you can try this with traction control on or off.

Alpine Circuit – Many films have driving scenes filmed here, including James Bond Casino Royale (2006), where the Aston Martin, driven by Bond, flips over. The circuit has a maximum speed limit of 55mph. You need to complete this circuit in the quickest possible time but keeping inside the speed limit. Here, you will be testing your ability to keep a maximum speed, like you would do on the road, while making maximum progress. This circuit replicates a mountain pass and is much more technical than a regular circuit.

Outer Handling Circuit – This is much shorter and easier than the Alpine circuit. However, it’s not without its challenges. You will need to drive it in the quickest time, keeping to the 55mph speed limit, so effective braking and cornering techniques are essential.

Finally, we head to the high-speed bowl. This is a two-mile banked circuit that Millbrook is famous for. If you drive around 95mph on the highest part of the track, the car will steer itself due to the forces of gravity. If you go above this speed, the car will push out towards the barrier. If you drop your speed, the car will decline the bank. You can test yourself and see how long you can drive with no hands so you can experience this. You can then have the opportunity to drive as fast as you can – up to 130mph without a helmet. So you can experience how your car feels at 100+ mph speed on a very unique track. It’s something very few drivers will ever experience.

This course is not currently available to customers. Our team is testing it in our BMW Z4 track-based vehicle, which we use for various driving-based tests.

Below is an example of the concept course marking sheet.