Lord March has done it again.
There aren’t many places where you can in one moment experience an extremely rare Ferrari FXX-K scream past you at 9,000 rpm – V12 at full chat, a smoky burnout being executed, and tyres with a few millimetres less rubber than they started with, and in another intricately examine the details of the new Rolls Royce Dawn Black Badge whilst sipping on a glass of champagne. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The madness which is Goodwood is all down to one man, Lord March. Unable to use the renowned Motor Circuit anymore for health and safety reasons, Lord March decided enough was enough; with a sprawling estate under his ownership it was decided that a great motoring event would be held in the grounds themselves. The Festival of Speed began in 1993. Since then, the Festival has gradually developed year by year into the behemoth that it is today, with all-new areas open to the public, including a ‘Supercar Paddock’ sponsored by Michelin housing all of the latest exotic metal, a ‘First Glance Paddock’ next to that with some of the latest releases, and a whole host of other additions including an increasing number of manufacturer stands and opportunities for hospitality. Indeed, one of the most noteworthy additions in the last few years has been the ‘Forest Rally Stage’ and though this writer is guilty of having not visited it personally, he has only heard good things about it! Especially exciting in the rain, the stage offers Festival-goers the ability to walk alongside the action, camera-in-hand, ready to capture Group B rally cars from a by-gone era delicately drift their way through a series of knee-trembling hairpin bends.
Of the four days during which the Festival takes place, the weekend is by far the busiest, with well over 100,000 people flowing into the event. As you can imagine, trying to guide thousands of cars through narrow, windy country lanes is never going to be a pretty sight. And because everyone wants to arrive early, traffic jams are a given. This inevitably results in some frustration, but as you get nearer to the event, eventually park up, and start walking towards your entrance you soon realise the wait is well justified. On the way to The Kennels Golf Club to pick up our Aston Martin Hospitality passes we spot two of the most eagerly anticipated cars from Aston’s new AMR division. The new AMR Pro Vantage and Rapide sit elegantly by the side of the road, their subtle grey paintjobs with lime green stripes and accents sparkling in the morning sun, luring visitors to take a closer look. By no means do you have to have hospitality to spot some outrageous motor cars, though. Regardless of the ridiculous Performance Car Parking, I recall spotting the following: Aston Martin GT8, Ferrari 288 GTO, Porsche 911 GT3-RS, Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato, Lamborghini Aventador SV, and many more. It’s true. The moment you enter Goodwood you are totally immersed into an automotive paradise.
Once inside the actual event it will be hard to know where to go – there is just so much to see and do. Disregarding the number of days you intend to attend, it’s essential that you decide in advance which areas you want to see and when you want to be in a grandstand overlooking some of the track action; that way you will get the most out of your visit.
It’s probably testament to the success of the organisers and exhibitors that I find it difficult to pick an outright highlight – the calibre of everything is so high! That said, after going to the Festival for two years, the Michelin Supercar Paddock never fails to disappoint. Situated opposite the Cartier Lawn, this paddock is probably one of the only places where you can see the latest, the fastest, and the most outrageous collection of automotive awesomeness together in one place. This year we were blessed by a range of savage weapons from all of the main supercar makers, including the Ferrari FXX-K, McLaren 720S and P1 GTR, AMR PRO Aston Martin Vulcan, and the hugely powerful all-electric Rimac Concept One to name but a few. The real exclusivity of Goodwood, however, comes in the form of letting ticketholders get up close and personal to some of the rarest hypercars in the world, only to then plonk a legendary racing driver into the driver’s seat so we can gawp at millions-of-pounds worth of carbon fibre get ragged up the Goodwood Hill. This passionate, trustworthy atmosphere could only happen at Goodwood.
The three days I had at Goodwood this year were very special. I got to meet all of my favourite automotive YouTubers; Shmee150, MrJWW, Salomondrin, and Seb Delanney were all at the event and I got to have a good chat with a few of them. The Performance Car Parking area was fantastic as always; with, amongst others, a new Lamborghini Huracan Performante, McLaren 720S, Porsche 918 Spyder, and numerous Ferrari F12s. The Cartier Lawn was filled with elegant automobiles from Ferrari with five stunning 250s including the jaw-dropping GTO. Bugatti came out in force with a selection of legendary Veyron’s, one of them a ‘Pur Sang’ which has a particularly odd chrome bodywork, and a McLaren owner was displaying his fresh-from-a-roadtrip F1. Designed by Gordon Murray, the F1, with its distinct central seating position and two ‘side-seats’ in perfectly polished Genesis Blue was a sight to behold, even with the calibre of its company. A walk across the track revealed a whole other universe of manufacturer stands and exhibitors. I lost count of the number of cars I sat in that day; moving from Mini Cooper S to BMW M2 to Maserati Ghibli I was able to spend quality time pressing all of the buttons and talking to the manufacturer representatives without being told to leave!
I have frequently been asked what my favourite car of the show was this year. It’s not easy. Unless you are attached to a particular brand, when you have the world’s best cars in one place it’s virtually impossible to choose. But I think I’ve got it. Whether you like a car or not often doesn’t depend on 0-60 times, top speeds, interior quality, storage space, or even car dynamics. It’s all down to first impressions and how the design of a car makes you feel. So, when I strolled up to the Porsche stand and saw the newly-revealed GT2-RS for the first time I was instantly drawn to it. The excitement was increased with having to look at it from behind a glass barrier, making it seem super-special and unobtainable. The car still had the overall shape of your standard 911 Carrera, but that’s about where the similarities end. I wouldn’t usually be a fan of a non-body colour bonnet, but the carbon fibre sections just seem to work so well on the ‘beefed up’ turbocharged GT2-RS version, with extra air intakes and an ironing-board rear wing from the purer GT3-RS. That said, rather embarrassingly the only car to fail at a burnout was the GT2-RS. Even so, my adoration for the GT2-RS is as strong as ever. I might not be the biggest fan of your standard Porsche, but a formula which goes as follows is impossible to resist: 911 GT3-RS + 911 Turbo S = 911 GT2-RS.