2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed. A moving motor show in every sense of the word.
The pinnacle destination for the automotive traveler.
Goodwood. A moving motor show. Coming into it that is essentially what I saw it as. A chance to see some of the most fabled historic and modern race cars in motion. Up close and personal. However, this event is more moving in the emotive sense of the word than I could have ever imagined. Spare the next few moments to recount and relive it a bit.
First off, let me say that originally I had planned on attending Goodwood and essentially doing a grouping of posts/ articles in print and Video on my YouTube channel to focus on how important automotive travel is. We Americans tend to have long "bucket" lists but few of us travel abroad. It is a huge loss and something that I want to see Enthusiasts of all nations take more seriously. We drive the Silverstone track in video games but few of us ever attend a track day there. That is a huge loss and each time I have elected to travel it has been rewarded with experiences far more significant than even what I had expected. For years I have been encouraging enthusiasts to not just dream about California Highway 1 or The Nurburgring but to actually get out there and DO it. It is vital. It was with this in mind that I made plans to attend this year's Goodwood FoS.
This is where I struggle for words. You see, a confluence of events conspired so that I could actually attend but my principle TEG photog couldn't make it. I reached out to several others who were trying to carve out their schedules but both scheduling and cost stepped in the way. I was stuck. What to do? Well, My oldest son, Ethan, had just turned 16 and we had been thinking of doing a trip for his birthday. He has recently started to fancy himself a bit of a photographer (he even shot the upcoming Fiat X 1/9 episode of TEG) so I thought," why not have Ethan attend as my default photog.
WOW. What a great decision that turned out to be. Just check out some of these images my son nabbed :
So, there was that. Seeing him really take this whole thing seriously and develop his craft RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES was extremely moving and I found myself choking back tears on multiple occasions. That combined with the event itself had me on emotional overload. At one point Hannu Mikkola actually bumped into me jostling in the paddock to allow Bernie Ecclestone room to walk. Think about that. The event is of such a high calibre and brings out such a cast of cars and drivers that it is scarcely possible for me to even relate the magnitude to you in mere words.
For those of you who are maybe less knowledgeable about the event it goes like this Goodwood FoS is held annually at the Earl of March's estate in Chichester England. It is a sprawling estate featuring a farm, horse race arena, the historic Goodwood Race Course, a 2+ mile rally coarse Lord March built in his back yard. The main attraction is the Goodwood Hillclimb where essentially every great driver on the planet and some celebs hurtle cars up Lord March's drive way as fast as possible and you get to watch. What you don't see on TV is that the paddock is FILLED with display cars and cars which compete to the tune of HUNDREDS, yes HUNDREDS of the cars you never dreamt you would see. V10 F1 cars, Senna's championship car, the Silk Cut Jaguar, XJ220 LM, F1GTR, F40 LM, 250 LM, Mercedes Benz C292, Lancia 037 and I could go on and on. What had me completely gobsmacked is that in one of the most eloquent land usage achievements of all time the end of the hill climb takes you into a English country side forest with a lovely foot path on which you can look down at the cars finishing their hill climb runs. Behind you, and I mean feet behind you and through the trees is a world rally stage designed by the aforementioned Hannu Mikkola himself. So, while Robert Kubica is blasting a Renault F1 car past on your right side, on your left is a Delta S4 shooting flames and gravel in equal measure. Let that sink in. I mean, I don't know if even in my wildest dreams could I have put that together. It is literally an automotive Field of Dreams.
This, perhaps more than any other event in recent memory, is one where time seems to have it's own unique quality. We move at a pretty frenetic pace in modern life and events such ae this often come and pass too quickly. It is as though there just isn't the time to actually take it in, to appreciate it. I'm still trying to figure out what it is about Goodwood but it is either that A. Lord March has dialed up CERN and had them stretch space and time for the week of FoS or B. due to the absolutely incredible nature of each thing happening throughout the time you are there it actually seems as though, upon reflection, there couldn't have POSSIBLY been enough time for you to see, do and EXPERIENCE all these wonderful automotive moments. Ethan and I are still trying to figure out what it is but I am not exaggerating. The event truly is that staggering. I have found myself in the time since the event queried by many enthusiasts on my reactions to the event and upon relating what I had seen and experienced they are nearly as wide eyed as I was while it was happening. Swimming in a surreal sea of automotive legends. Surreal is certainly an apt term for this dream like Festival.
In the movie Field of Dreams the line "if you build it he will come" is repeated over and over. We Lord March has indeed built the Automotive Field of Dreams. He has built it and you simply MUST come.
I cannot count the number of times my son and I looked into each others eyes, jaws drooping in awe and just looked at each other as if to say, "can you BELIEVE what is happening right now?" Most of the time I couldn't. Several times while just walking around René Arnoux or Mark Webber would see you filming or just looking gobsmacked at a car and they would smile back. It was the kind of event where it was just so dream like, so surreal that even jaded journalists and drivers were rendered wide eyed school boys again.
It just doesn't stop. The Hillclimb and Rally would be more than enough to render this event a bucket list item but no, there is more, MUCH more. Principle amongst these is the road car show on Lord March's front lawn. Maserati Khamsin, McLaren F1, Ferrari 250 SWB, Zonda, roughly 40 absolute show stoppers all parked in such a way as to allow you to take in each of the beautiful angles each car had on offer. It was a photographers dream. What's more with so much acreage covered by so many opportunities to connect with automotive history it never felt like there were too many people in one place at one time. There were opportunities to drive Porsches and Audis off road, which we did. There were opportunities to visit manufacturers stands which were international motor show level creations, Porsche even debuted the stunning GT2 RS at the event. A field of Automotive dreams indeed.
Honestly 3 days is not just optional it is required to properly take in the event. Lord March even has multiple air shows conducted throughout the event. It's SPEED overload at times and there are ample places on the grounds to get a quite moment to just reflect. My favourites were in the Rally car paddock area which was usually pretty devoid of spectators despite being one of the most choice opportunities on offer. The other, was the car park. England is truly the home of car culture. I could go on and on about why I think this but it is as simple as this; In England even Granny knows the difference between a Golf and a Gti. EVERYONE is car crazy. The car park was nearly as good as the show itself. Lotus Carlton? check. Ghibli Cup? check. Lotus Esprit and Aston DBS? check, check. At most races or car shows you can be guaranteed you will find a few interesting motors parked up but Goodwood just brought out the Creme de la Creme.
On Sunday there were 4 Hurucan Performantes parked next to each other. 4. Aventadors were positively common place in the car park. Ferrari brought out a fleet of 12 FF's as courtesy cars. (?!?!) Yes. Every generation of Ford RS, Mercedes Cosworths, Ford Cosworths, Acres and acres of true enthusiast cars and not a stanced VW in sight. There was however a lovely GTI CS (which took second in this year's ECOTY) and this lovely Audi TT quattro Sport . RARE VAG cars both.
Once you had time to collect yourself in a quite moment of automotive reflection the paddock (which is 100% open to all attendees) offered every car and their team fettling their respective beasts for another run up the hill. The sweet aroma of race fuel, the cacophony and sonic pleasure of low inertia race engines being prepped for launch. The atmosphere was electric and having my son by my side through it all was the kind of memory I will cherish until my last breath.
It is with all this in mind that I implore you. If the 24 hours of the Nurburgring is on your bucket list do it. Do it this year. If Driving on the Autobahn is something you have always promised yourself. Do it as soon as possible. If you really want the penultimate experience an enthusiast can have I truly think it has to be Goodwood. It's part charming English country side, Part Dale Earnhart's number 3 Nascar being driven by his son doing doughnuts in an aristocrats yard and everyone loving it, It's part hearing a V10 F1 car firing up for the first time and being able to stand inches away, mostly it's every car you have ever dreamed about being driven in anger up a beautiful ribbon of tarmac so close to you that you can feel the energy. It's a moving motor show, a truly MOVING motor show.
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