The UK motoring activities you must try this summer

Confession time: this feature isn’t entirely what we had originally planned it to be. A few months back, when the government was drawing up various ‘roadmaps’ to ease restrictions, we had the idea of a celebration of motoring freedom, suggesting some of the finest experiences on offer both in the UK and abroad.

But, well, you know how it has gone: variants, vaccines, closed borders and all that. Suggesting epic European road trips seems cruel if we’re going to have to be cautious for a few more weeks.

However, with so much uncertainty and worry in the world, we also realised that cars really do represent personal freedom. You can enjoy a passion for motoring safely and escape the stresses and strains for a few blissful hours. So we started wondering: what are the best ways to enjoy the liberation of motoring without leaving the UK?

Tour the Scottish Highlands – Matt Prior

Open spaces. Mountains. Vast stretches of water. Friendly welcomes. Empty roads. Shortbread. Midges. Scotland. What with one thing and another, I couldn’t get up to my favourite road-trip destination last year, but that hasn’t been the case in 2021. I love how you can drive on lovely, lonely roads all day and yet still not end up back where you started.

My favourite Scottish road trip to date was in an Aston Martin Vanquish S. Right now, the ideal car for it would surely be the Toyota GR Yaris. But the weather was so nice last week that I decided to ride my old Honda Africa Twin motorcycle instead. You can read more about how that went on p90.

Lap a circuit in a single-seater – James Attwood

Very few people will ever get the chance to play football at Wembley, cricket at Lord’s or rugby at Twickenham, but through a track day or driving experience, pretty much anyone can drive a racing car around a fabled British circuit such as Silverstone or Brands Hatch. Granted, you won’t be able to lap the home of the British Grand Prix in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 car, but most circuits offer driving experiences where you can hire a single-seater (or various other machinery) and receive some valuable tuition.

In an era when Britain’s public roads are becoming ever more congested, few driving experiences can match piloting a car designed purely for racing on a wide-open expanse of asphalt. Of course, it’s not absolute freedom: for safety reasons, you will have to follow various rules, probably with limits to how flat out you can go. But it’s still an exhilarating experience.

And why not make a day or a long weekend of it? Many of the UK’s best racing circuits are relatively remote and located in stunning countryside, creating the prospect of some epic road trips to get there are back. In particular, a driving experience at Trac Môn offers a detour through the finest roads that Anglesey and north-west Wales have to offer, and Knockhill presents an excuse for a blast round some fabulous Scottish countryside.

Get sideways in a Mercedes-AMG Bruiser at Brooklands – Tom Morgan

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SALON PRIVE 1-5 September: Dust off your finest attire (it still fits after lockdown, right?), because Salon Privé is the UK’s most anticipated automotive garden party, where you can see priceless classic cars and modern icons on the lawn of Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace.

5 NATIONS BRX AT KNOCKHILL 25-26 September: The British Rallycross Championship is still alive and kicking, with a new championship format bringing top-level action to Knockhill in Fife. It also features EVs and ICE rivals going head to head.