I will remember the summer of 2018 as one of the hottest in recent years. We’ve had some hot days, but it has surely been a couple of decades since we’ve had such a sustained spell of fair weather, bordering on sweltering. Consequently, the MG restoration has taken a back seat while I lay about and socialise in the sun (too hot for overalls anyway). Today, we went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Considered by many as the premier motoring event of the year, I haven’t been for several years because the crowds put me off, and its not exactly a cheap day out. However, with some other friends going, that was enough to tip us into going, and for once, Helen and I were going together.
Setting off from Brighton at 6:30am meant that queues were minor and by 8:00 we were sat by the start line eating bacon rolls. I’ll admit to feeling a bit emotional when I first climbed the grandstand only to look down on a Graham Hill Yardley F1 car catapult off the start line. The ear splitting howl of the Cosworth DFV V8, and the beautiful setting of the tree lined avenue as the next amazing car lined up was all a bit overwhelming. Many of the cars were doing burn-outs from the start line. Utterly pointless, but absolutely joyous.
We moved on from the start line, and took up seats in the Park grandstands which provide a view of the track with the house behind. A beautiful setting, we stayed here for a while watching the batches of exotic bikes and cars sprinting up the hill. Some cars are going for a fast time, others just cruise up and some perform stunts such as donuts and burn-outs. Its all fabulously variable and there is a great sense of both occasion and of people wanting to put on a good show for the benefit of the crowds. The F1 cars have a tradition of showing off – there was a mouth-watering selection this year, a handful of the old normally aspirated V8s and V10s from the noughties – these are absolute screamers, and there was a Red Bull which did a particularly spectacular donut and drift. Valtieri Bottas was there with a Turbo Hybrid Mercedes and he did some cracking donuts and looked to be having a great time. Jenson Button, a Goodwood regular, was on Honda ambassador duties, piloting an ex-John Surtees 1967 Honda F1 car respectfully up the hill, singing out its V12 song.
There were many manufacturers and trade stands, too many to see in one day really. Helen won a key ring on the Mini stand and we both queued up for Michelin straw hats. We had hog roast rolls for lunch sat on a picnic table in the sweltering sunshine yards away from at least £20m worth of supercars which were displayed with typical Goodwood informality around the in-field.
You have to pinch yourself at Goodwood because almost wherever you look there are amazing cars and bikes, it really is quite exceptional. Its hard to convey just how relaxed and convivial the atmosphere is – what the organisers have pulled off is the knack of putting on a beautifully well organised and presented event, while making it look incredibly easy.
The Porsche stand was worthy of mention – a blend of classic cars, contemporary cars and racing cars, it was presented with a light touch and surprisingly, a coffee shop with the best coffee of the day, served with panache by young staff who really had no business being that cheerful when we met them later in the day.
A fantastic day, we enjoyed catching up with our friends and becoming reacquainted with the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
(I’m going to have to get on with that restoration at some point, but Cornwall beckons…)