You don’t have to be a petrol head to enjoy the Goodwood Festival of Speed. But it helps. There’s a buzz from the minute you park up, not least as a result of the fleet of helicopters hovering above the estate. The Festival of Speed is a thoroughly sensual affair with the ear-splitting roar of engines, the screech of tyres and the smell of exhaust and dozens of V8s all guaranteed to send sparks of excitement up even the most disinterested of spines! It is what it says on the tin, a massive celebration of speed and ideally, you need more than one day to do it justice. This is our round-up from last year of the thrills, screeches, and revs and what you can expect at this weekend’s event!
Start the experience with a helicopter ride. They are £50 each (plus £10 if you want to go in the front/ prices at 2021) and you’ll find them close to the entrance. What a way to start the day!
Track events run almost continually throughout the day, so check the itinerary in case there is anything in particular you want to see. For our part, we wanted to spend the morning exploring the many stands and vehicles on display, not least because this is a great way to get up close and personal with many of the cars you’re going to see in action on the track later. And there is literally a car or category for every conceivable taste.
The very first stand we came to was Zenvo, the Danish hypercar. Zenvo reportedly only make about five cars a year spread over three models. There were three at the FOS, two on display and a limited edition TSR-S on the track. The TS1 GT we were admiring has a twin-turbocharged 5.8-litre V8 engine. If that doesn’t mean much, it apparently takes 3.0 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h.
Just let that sink in for a moment. 3.0 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h.
It’s difficult to find an accurate price if you’re tempted but the most recent I could find was back in 2017, when they were going for about $1.2 million. I’ll just let that sink in too.
We moved on to the vintage section (cars made from 1919 to 1930) mainly because this is the stuff of my childhood and there is something inherently beautiful about cars of this generation. I can’t pretend to be knowledgeable (much to my father’s shame) but I am an admirer. And who isn’t? These cars epitomise the style and elegance of one of my favourite eras. Besides, they were next to an impressive selection of E-type jaguars whose smooth lines are always worth a moment’s pause and a little respect.
In the BMW courtyard, most eyes were on the latest models and electric versions but for me, it was the 1972 1602 BMW that stole my heart. I hope it’s there again this year. This pioneering electric car was deployed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games as a support car for the marathon. It’s a beauty and reminiscent of later models that surely everyone’s dad owned or lusted after in the 70s?
Having narrowly escaped buying a £400,000 Rolls Royce (OK, it was spacious but would have been a nightmare to park) we were in search of speed. We started in the Mercedes Grand Prix veteran section with a couple of vehicles that we saw on the track later including one called The Beast and we chatted enviously to a driver who’d driven up from Wales just to drive the track.
Then we gradually made our way up through the decades of speed, design and technology.
Stopping only for a quick gin and tonic (or maybe two), we made our way to the track. The drift cars were in action, skidding and screeching their way round the bends. Then the Mercedes, Pre-War, Alfa, Early Endurance and Indy took to the track. OK, a couple of them needed a little push to get going but oh, the sight and sound of these classics as they burst into life.
I’m probably over-excitable but it’s utterly compelling watching the older vehicles, on a sunny day, and it just takes you back to a bygone time!
As things hotted up, and tempted as we were by a champagne lunch, we headed up the hill to get as near to the finish line as possible.
We did get a bit distracted on the way by the skid pan, the rally driving, and some very sexy motorbikes.
But we arrived in time for Aston Martin’s showcase celebration of their contribution to motorsport and then the timed practice, listening to the echo of almighty engines as they hurtled up the hill towards the finish! It was time for us to head home but not before one last look at a few supercars as we meandered our way back down through the estate.
You can’t possibly do justice to the Festival of Speed in a few words, even with dozens of photos or following a full day spent dedicated to the pursuit of speed, pleasure, and beauty. It’s one of those great Sussex events you just have to experience, so grab your driving gloves and head over to Goodwood.
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