The weather said it would be a typical rain sodden weekend, but as ever the sun shined brightly to make the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 a glorious one.
Wanting to avoid the traffic we set off early and followed the directions set out by the RAC Route Planner, we left at 5am and arrived at Goodwood for 7:30, there was no traffic whatsoever, perfect!
After visiting our good friends over at the Peugeot stand we headed to Molecomb corner, undoubtedly the best place to watch along the hill. This year we actually had access to one of the grandstands…boy what a difference that makes! The event is so large and spread out that after a good few hours of walking around it gets rather tedious spending a further 5 hours standing whilst all of the classes race up the hill.
As ever the machinery on display is world class, the day started off with the classic pre-war beasts. These ranged from 1938 Alfa Romeo 308C’s to the stunning 6.0 litre V16 Auto Union Type C, the majority of these cars being worth well into the millions of pounds it’s superb to see them still being used for their original purpose.
A favourite of mine as always was the motorbike class, you get old fashioned, highly strung ,screaming 125’s, modern day superbikes and even Charlie Boorman. Showing that Goodwood isn’t all about the cars!
As the classes flew past us at Molecomb the time also flies by, before you know it you are watching historic Pikes Peak winners and Le Mans Porsche Prototypes from yesteryear. There was also a 1997 Mercedes Benz CLK GTR, this brought back memories of my first Scalextric – seeing it in the flesh for the first time was incredible.
Next up was current gen GT3 machinery, Bentley ran up the hill in the car that was launched at last year’s Festival of Speed; the Continental GT3, this was matched by the beastie Mercedes Benz SLS GT3 and who could forget the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, piloted by GT Academy winner Jan Mardenborough – the car was fresh from the prior weekends Nurburgring 24 hour race, still bearing duct tape healed battle scars.
A quick break ensues for the Red Arrows to do their thing, but they were upstaged by a single Eurofighter Typhoon later in the day. To hear the roar and witness the power of that plane is awe inspiring, god help anyone on the receiving end of one of those in a war zone!
The real stars of the show were to be found in the Michelin Supercar category. This put the likes of the Arash AF8 with the Koenigsegg Agera One:1, next to the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1. Oh, and not forgetting TWO LaFerrari’s, one owned by Mr ‘Big Hat, Little Man’ himself Jay Kay – his is the Kermit green one.
After watching the full run of cars we meandered across to what can only be described as the ‘British motor show’ which is held on the vast land opposite Goodwood house. Here we got to check out many of the concepts that debuted earlier in the year at the international shows.
Honda’s NSX looks every bit as stunning in the flesh as the images show, whilst Nissan’s modern day take on the Hakosuka Skyline, the NISMO IDX concept is…well, we only have one thing to say…JUST MAKE IT NISSAN!
Another stunner was to be found over on the Peugeot stand, the Exalt concept which is only a few months old and was there making its UK debut.
Having guest passes meant we were privileged enough to be allowed on the Goodwood House Balcony – a view I never thought I would get to see with my own eyes – moving through the decadent halls surrounded by wood panelling and illustrious family history you feel rather special. Naturally beady eyes watch you every step of the way!
Last but not least we found our way across to the paddocks, here we got up close and personal with the 2014 Le Mans winning Audi R18 and the ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ Toyota LMP1 racer…don’t worry your time will come!
Unfortunately we never made it to the rally stage this year, ideally you need two days at the event as there is just so much to see and do!
Once you have sat down and watched all the cars and bikes blast up the hill half the day is over, our advice…go Thursday and view all of the stands and static displays then use Friday to soak up all that burning rubber and torque.
Once again Goodwood has shown what a unique event it is. Growing in size every year the tickets sell out faster and faster. What I like about it though is the action. To actually witness and see what are normally static, lifeless, motor show cars at full chat shooting uphill towards Flint Wall can’t be beat. The sights, smells and noise make it intoxicating.
Goodwood Festival of Speed is, and will be the UK’s number one motoring event for the foreseeable future – bring on 2015!