With a (hopefully) glorious new events season imminent, following a catastrophically curtailed 2020 season, I thought now would be the perfect time to revisit the article. Here it is in full, as published in the September 2018 issue of the mag.
have a slight problem.
The editor has given me just 500 words to recount my Goodwood Festival of Speed experience. 500 words! That’s like trying to summarise War And Peace into a tweet or describing the Mona Lisa’s smile using only interpretive dance. Frankly, impossible. And I’ve already wasted ten per cent on this intro.
let’s give this a go. For those that have been living under a rock for the last
quarter of a century, the Festival is basically Europe’s largest
automotive-themed garden party. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon magnanimously
allows 750,000 punters to trample across his estate, dribbling uncontrollably
at the finest collection of car porn this side of Jay Leno’s lean-to.
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It also happens to be the UK’s most eclectic show, with seemingly every motoring predilection catered for. There are no fewer than thirty classes of cars, covering everything from Edwardian monsters to the latest hybrid supercars via formula one, touring cars, NASCAR, rally cars, drift cars, GTs, superbikes, prototypes… the list goes on and on. No-one’s really counting, but there are nearly six hundred cars and bikes crammed into the paddock. Oh, and did I mention that pretty much every last one of them has a crack at the Goodwood hill?
of this is utterly marvellous of course, but it does make planning your visit
something akin to a military exercise. I had the luxury of three days to catch
everything, and still found myself flicking through the beautifully-designed programme
afterwards, cursing at the things I’d missed. I can’t see how you’d possibly get
around everything in a day. If you’ve never been, and this article somehow inspires
you to go next year, my advice is simple: invest in a really comfy deck chair
and a cool box, find a good spot somewhere on the hill and let everything come
How am I doing? 300 words. Crikey, better get a wriggle on.
And what of my personal highlights? Well, as you’d expect from someone writing for The Automobile, anything pre-war makes me go a little bit giddy so watching the aero-engined behemoths thundering up the hill was awe-inspiring; the Red Arrows drawing a giant heart in the sky – complete with Cupid’s arrow, naturally – gave me a lump in my throat the size of the Isle Of Man; somehow blagging my way onto the lawn for the Porsche celebrations and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Derek Bell and Magnus Walker was a pinch-me moment; watching the rally heroes of my youth beneath the forest canopy while gradually turning chalky-white was dusty heaven; and finally (and way off-topic for this mag) seeing Volkswagen’s incredible I.D. R Pike’s Peak electric hypercar come within a whisker of breaking the 19-year-old hillclimb record, albeit with all the aural drama of a kettle boiling, was sci-fi made real. There were loads more, but I’m nudging dangerously close to my word limit.
To be honest, if I had another 5000 words, I’d still struggle to do the Festival of Speed justice. Like a petrolhead Glastonbury, no one person’s account could ever be definitive as the sheer scale and diversity means that every experience will be unique.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning for next year’s event…
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