On Thursday (11/07/13), my colleague Aaron and I set off early in the morning to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, courtesy of Porsche. The weather was already heating up, and the combination of sunshine and the occasional supercar driving past made a very enjoyable journey! For some reason our sat-nav had decided not to work; however, the festival was so well sign-posted we had absolutely no trouble getting there. Friendly staff guided us into the huge car park on arrival, where we saw all manner of cars, from the classic vintage to the ultra-modern. Check out this Telegraph article about the Goodwood Festival Supercar Park by Leo Wilkinson. After a quick coffee, we headed through the golf course and up to the main entrance. There was plenty to see with helicopters constantly flying overhead, and the distant sound of engines roaring really helped build the anticipation. Once inside, we were met with the aviation display, a fantastic collection of planes and helicopters, including a Bulldog, an Extra 300 and pleasure flights provided by the official helicopter supplier to the Goodwood Estate; Elite Helicopters. Aaron had flown an Extra 300 in the past, so he was especially happy to see them, and if you also fancy it, then just click here!
Heading across a bridge over the race track took us into the main festival, and the centre of the circuit. There were cars flying past at regular intervals throughout the day, some ordinary, some extraordinary. It was easy to lose track of time watching the cars race past, even if they weren’t actually racing! When I was told each car manufacturer would have a stand, I was imagining a marquee with lots of leaflets and maybe some free pens. I definitely was not expecting to see the goliath structures dotted all over the grounds. The Ford stand had four storeys, the Mini Cooper stand had a bumper cars ride and the BMW stand had an owner’s lounge, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a bar. This setting only added to the beauty and extravagance of the cars on display – my personal favourite was this super-shiny brand-new Porsche 911: Walking through the manufacturer stands was like walking around a busy city, but instead of roads there were metal walkways, and instead of cars there were golf buggies. It had a certain futuristic feel to it, what with the sunshine glaring off the flashy cars and the giant LED screens showing new advertisements and messages on every stand. There was, of course, a decidedly festival feel to the place as well, what with the constant music playing from each stand and the rows of food outlets. There were also a lot of people asleep in deck chairs, which is a staple feature of any successful festival.
Once we’d got our fill of the manufacturer stands, we headed uphill alongside the famous Goodwood Hillclimb. The 1.16 mile stretch is the main attraction at Goodwood, with hundreds of vehicles tearing up the incline every day. Every few minutes we’d have to raise our voices over the scream of tyres on tarmac as a supercar flew past. The fastest time up the hill was achieved by Nick Heidfeld in 1999: watch the video here. Along the way we encountered more food and drink shops, countless ice cream vans, and another star attraction of this year’s festival: the Porsche Exhibition Stand, celebrating 50 years of the Porsche 911. This was also the theme of this year’s sculpture that stands outside the Goodwood House. Each year the lawn in front of Goodwood House is transformed, featuring a different statement car sculpture designed by the prestigious artist, Gerry Judah. At 34 metres, this year’s Porsche sculpture was the tallest yet, and featured a Carrera RS2.7, the latest 911 Carrera 4 and the original 911. The sculpture was a stark contrast to the 2012 Lotus themed one, which involved 150 metres of winding, knotted road. Other Gerry Judah sculptures for the Goodwood Festival of Speed can be seen here.
Halfway up the hill was a Bowler dirt track. Racing round corners at extreme speed, this was one of the more exciting events to watch at the festival. Bowler offroaders are the market leaders in all-terrain, high-performance vehicles, and you can see why! The amount of dust being kicked up by the wheels was unbelievable; we were coated by the time we moved past the track. Try an off-road adventure for yourself.
Further up was a track being used by quad bikes, an experience I’m pleased to have tried myself as they’re extremely fun! The track had dips and hills, making full use of the bikes’ capacities and what they can do. If you’d like to try quad biking, just click here.
A short walk through some forest and we reached the finish line of the Goodwood Hillclimb, probably the noisiest part of the festival as this is where the cars really pick up some speed. On the other side was the famous Rally Stage, host to the British Rally Championships. Read more about the BRC here and try rally driving for yourself here.
After the cool shade of the forest, it was time to head back out into the sweltering heat and down the hill. It was getting towards the end of the day, so we decided to have another look at the manufacturer stands as well as some of the smaller stands before heading home. Here we saw the Peugeot artificial wave machine, a super sleek Cummins engine, a whole range of beautiful vintage cars including these gorgeous E-Type Jaguars, the biggest pram you will ever see, and the wonderful Ford Mustang. Being one of our most popular experiences, it was great to see the Ford Mustang up close – it really makes you understand the appeal of these cars. We also saw the Polaris stand, another great off-road experience, great for fans of 4×4’s, off-road buggies and quad bikes. If you want to drive a 1966 and 2010 Mustang, click here. Alternatively, try the Mustang GT Experience or the 1966 Mustang V8 Experience.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day; the weather was fantastic, the displays were amazing, and it’s really made me want to try different types of driving! The technology used by the manufacturer stands was incredible, I can’t begin to imagine the time and effort put into making them, but it really paid off. I would recommend the Goodwood Festival of Speed to everyone, particularly car-enthusiasts … but anyone can have a great time!