Goodwood Festival of Speed: Up Close and Personal
Once in every gear head’s life they must make the pilgrimage to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so says the Automotive Testament, chapter 1 verse 2*. (*this text probably doesn’t exist) When I first took interest in the automotive culture, I wanted to learn and experience as much as possible whenever I could; car shows, car launches, swap meets, I even left my home in New Jersey to come to England to get my Masters in Automotive Journalism. There are more than enough opportunities to soak up the ‘petrol head’ environment here in the U.K and the Goodwood Festival of Speed has to be the prime example.
Ever since I first heard of the Festival of Speed, I've always wanted to go. The name alone would attract any self respecting gear head. When I first arrived at the Festival, I was amazed at the shear size of it and the capacity of the crowd. A new comer might be forgiven for thinking it was an actual religious Mecca. You see all walks of life and hear languages from all over the world, all people who just love cars.
Walking into the event, there was a Freestyle Motor Cross event to greet you and in the distance you could hear cars of all kinds being thrashed, up the famous hill climb course. In between, there were stands and venues from almost every automotive company imaginable.
The first thing I did was make my way to the starting line at the hill climb. The Moving Motor Show was back to the festival again this year. The Motor Show gives the car companies a chance to let press and fans alike test drive their new products up the hill course. Since I got there in the late morning, all the cars were booked, mostly by people who had camped out. Yes, it’s on the same level as a new iPhone or a new Star Wars movie release.
The consolation prize was getting to listen to the Italian V-8 of the Ferrari 458 and monstrous AMG SLS take off the line and attack the course. As car after car lined up and took off, I found myself standing there for much longer than I thought. Although I wasn’t alone, because at either side of me were other people adding to the puddle of drool as well.
When I managed to pull myself away from the track, I ventured into what seemed like a carnival for car lovers. Renault had a fun house to walk through that had an RB3 F1 car with accompanying audio and other engines on display. At the Nissan venue, they had a virtual skydiving simulator, and over at Mercedes, they had a Gran Turismo game to see if you could beat David Coulthard’s time around the Top Gear test track in an SLS.
Making my way further in to the depths of Goodwood, much grander things awaited. Every year there is a giant sculpture as the centerpiece. This year’s had actual Lotus F1 cars placed around an abstract looping track. Just passed the out-of-this-world sculpture was an equally out-of-this-world race paddock. Iconic racecars and motorcycles, past and present, from all different teams like Ferrari, Ducati, current and original Silver Arrows GP cars made appearances. Red Bull F1 and the Le Mans winning Audi R18 e-Tron quattro also turned up.
My only regret was having just a single day pass. There is so much to do and see it is literally impossible to get it done all in one day, I will definitely be going back in the future. Being among fellow gear heads is therapeutic and should be done as often as possible. All the crowds, excitement, sights and sounds only have me wanting more.
Pictures and words contributed by guest blogger Bryan Campbell.
Read more of his work at exposedcanvas.wordpress. com