This was originally posted a couple of years ago on my friend Ben's blog Bulletproof Automotive. Ben is extremely knowledgeable on all cars, the JDM species in particular. His company does astonishing builds worldwide for customers with vision. Since I wrote it - I decided I'd post it here :)
Seven years ago I learned about Goodwood's Festival of Speed and I've wanted to go ever since. While I lived in the UK, circumstances somehow conspired against my dad and I every year to stop us from going. Now, 6500 miles away from home, the opportunity somehow arrived. A business trip had me in London and the rest sorted itself out in no time.
For those unfamiliar with Goodwood's event, it is utterly phenomenal. Lord March hosts over 100 years worth of racing vehicles on his grounds for a 3 day Hill Climb event. The caliber of racing drivers and vehicles that attend the race boggles the mind. Walter Rohl, Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss, Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna (Ayrton's nephew), Mark Webber and even Jay Leno were just a few of the drivers hitting the hill climb this year. The range of vehicles covers the entire spectrum. 1930â€™s Silver Bullets, 50 years of Formula One cars, touring cars, rally cars, sports cars, supercars and prototypes are all raced.
Today's racing events can leave me with a feeling of disconnect – drivers being ushered out of the pits in secrecy, VIP's in all the prime locations (more-often than not, they are not even car fans!!) and spectators kept at a too-safe distance. Goodwood is entirely different. The drivers relax and chat with the spectators, you can get run over in the pits (I got clipped by the wing of a Porsche 917) and you spectate just meters from the single lane, hay bale lined track. I can't describe just how fun it is.
Obviously though, the most fun part is the racing. As a Design Engineer this event gives me HUGE satisfaction. We engineers design things to function and cars are built to run. Race cars are built to run HARD. This event takes that theory to the extreme. All too often, especially in SoCal, the most wonderful performance vehicles never get run anywhere near their potential, or run at all!! That breaks my heart. Engineers put their life and soul into these vehicles and they just sit dying! However, Goodwood appears to exist to restore my belief in the world - these cars don't only run, they get utterly hammered up the single lane driveway. Mark Webber sliding his F1 car with throttle wide open past me, actually left me deaf in my left ear for about 10 minutes, it was glorious.
Sir Jackie Stewart and my dad have known each other for a long time. We got a cheery wave as Jackie left the pits and I think dad had a tear in his eye when Jackie thundered by us in his 68 Lola F1 car, right at the limit. Jackie is 70 and hadn't driven the car since the Nurburgring in 66. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.
The highlight for me, though, was seeing a Pagani Zonda R rip up the hill. It was the only road car with a sound that eclipsed the dedicated race cars. The ferocity and aggression boggled my mind. Included is a short youtube clip I took of it. I didn't get it going up the hill as I was too busy watching!
I feel extremely lucky to have attended this event and hope it's an experience I can repeat in the future. Make the trip once in your life, you will love every minute.