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The Goodwood Festival of Speed

image-51814528-1024x768-1024x580 "Give me Goodwood on a Summer's day and you can forget the rest of the World." That sentiment is just as valid today as it was when first expressed back in the 1950s. There is simply nothing like the Goodwood Festival of Speed to be found anywhere else. Goodwood Festival of Speed There are car shows on the lawns of some very exclusive places, but not even Pebble Beach or Villa d'Este can compete with Goodwood and the Festival of Speed. Not only do we get to see automotive heaven in all its various manifestations, but instead of merely static exhibits, we get all the sound and fury, the good bits, as the cars are run up the hill past the Goodwood House. The Hill Climb is a vaguely competitive event; some folks actually go for times, but for the most part drivers are content to show off a bit but keep a margin in hand, as the spectators are only protected by straw bales and not armco barriers. So what is it like to sit in the goldfish bowl and run past the vast crowds that throng in front of the Goodwood House? I found out not too long ago through one of my clients, Spyker Cars, who have been regulars on the SuperCar section of the event for years. I bumped into Spyker Vice President Hans van Rennes while walking through the paddock, and after coffee, he invited me to join him as he drove one of the Spyker cars on the run the following day. Of course I accepted - so digging out my Spyker Squadron shirt from the back of the wardrobe, I presented myself in time for the morning run. Goodwood Festival of Speed The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the must-do events on the motoring calendar. Even the Formula One mob is not exempt from this celebration of motion. Stars old and new turn up and the public gets unprecedented access to their heroes, all in the atmosphere of an English Country House Garden Party. Oh yes, the public does turn out as well. The 40,000 person capacity is met on every one of the three festival days. There is almost too much to see and do - everywhere there is something that must be examined and appreciated, and we're just talking about the static stuff. There is also the constant procession of rare and interesting racers up and down the hill - it becomes almost a sensory overload. Goodwood Festival of Speed The variety of machinery on display is staggering and from all eras of the automobile. Formula One, sportscars, single-seaters, pre-war, post-war, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, if you have petrol in your veins, then this is the place for you. So seeing a "Silver Arrow" ascend the Hill becomes almost commonplace, it is not of course. Goodwood Festival of Speed Then there is the feeling of times past when reunited with old friends and beautiful classic cars. I first laid eyes on some of these cars over 20 years ago and still they have the power to thrill. Goodwood Festival of Speed This year it was different - normally I am trackside, camera in hand, recording the proceedings. This time I was in the Spyker accelerating hard through the crowds. Maybe Andy Warhol was right, we all get 15 minutes of fame, would this be mine? Whatever, we went up the Hill at a decent lick, Hans getting the tail unglued once or twice as the power kicked in. Gotta keep the adoring public entertained! Goodwood Festival of Speed From inside the goldfish bowl, the view was very different. Faces rushed past as we sped through the crowds; as the velocity increased, the tarmac seemed to get very narrow and the people seemed to be getting closer. All an optical illusion but still... Goodwood Festival of Speed So this was what it was like for the Great and the Good, like Sir Jackie Stewart, here reunited with his 1973 World Championship winning Tyrrell Ford. Goodwood Festival of Speed Okay, let's be honest. The Spyker is not as elegant as this Italian beauty but beggars cannot be choosers, and the ride up the Hill was a privilege. Not everyone is lucky enough to be invited. Goodwood Festival of Speed One of the trade marks of the Festival are the giant sculptures on the lawn in front of Goodwood House. They are different each year, celebrating some aspect or anniversary that is pertinent to the occasion. They are the work of Gerry Judah and are one of the highlights of the event. Above, he brings to life the speed and style of Audi. Goodwood Festival of Speed Back to the run up the Hill, it was over all too quickly. After a short delay waiting for the other runners in our group to arrive at the Top Paddock, there remains a slower procession in convoy back down to the main arena. I had just enough time to open up the doors and get a low down shot as we approached the finish line, this time from the wrong direction. So there you have it - a brief look at one of the world's greatest motoring events. A much closer investigation will be made at the real thing in July. If you can make it out to Goodwood in July, you definitely must - you won't regret it. - John Brooks
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