CHRIS HARRIS WENT TO SEE THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED

What was once a strange hill climb up a stately home driveway is now the de-facto world car expo.

CHRIS HARRIS WENT TO SEE THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED

CHRIS HARRIS' COLUMN WEEK 6 - A REVIEW OF THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a very big car event. What was once a strange hill climb up a stately home driveway is now the de-facto world car expo. It will probably out-last the grandaddy of them all - the Geneva Motor show. I shuffled in as a punter on the Saturday morning and had a mooch around, incognito.

The first thing to report is that the sheer volume of car love out there is truly astounding - there is no other way to explain how people will sit in a very long queue of traffic, only to then stand in a long queue of humans to watch some cars. The standing queue, at 9.30am, was plain unpleasant, but I think everyone was so glad to be at a car event just as civilisation appears to be disintegrating, that we didn’t care. A man behind me told me his son had a GT3 whereas he was considering a GTS. 

I entered by a gate near the Michelin Supercar Paddock, having forgotten to drop a pin where my car was parked - more of which later. I then walked up the infield to meet a man from BMW who wanted to show me an estate car and record me saying that I liked M cars, which I did, and I do. The stands were rocking on the way there - Lotus had built a small town, Polestar was displaying a very natty little roadster. There were some AMGs hanging around beyond the bit where the metal walkway had been part-consumed by boggy ground and a man from Bristol shouted my name and suggested it would be nice for me to hear my home accent! He was absolutely correct in that assumption.

From here I ducked into the Porsche cafe where I was served a weapons-grade flat white that I’m certain was laced with amphetamine. As my leg shook from the after affects and Ebeneeezer Good played in my head, I asked a man from Porsche if you could buy the new 963 to which he replied that I couldn’t. But the leaflet on the table said I could. The leaflet proved to be correct. Laaaaaaavly. 

I then managed a quick dart to the racing car area which is, for me, by far and away the best part of the Festival (or ‘Foz’ as the insiders call it) because it’s like meeting your heroes. And unlike human beings they can’t disappoint you. Not naming any names (Nelson Piquet). The car makers really do roll out some amazing tackle from museums and box cupboards. Mercedes had a silver and red car that was worth more than an entire country. My friend Alex was there in his ex-Massa 2008 Ferrari Formula one car, which he uses so much that it needs a new engine, and that also costs more than a small country. But his hair is amazing - Alex’s, not Massa’s. 

Next I decided to try some hospitality. An old colleague of mine now works for Ferrari, which is jolly fortunate and meant I was allowed a delicious glass of fizzy water as we watched someone spin a McLaren F1 on the first turn of the course, which I had wrongly assumed was an impossible feat. The McMurtry scudded through like something from Star Wars, surrounded by that sonic wave which seems to constantly hang around its bottom. It was, and is, the single most impressive vehicle I’ve seen all year. 

The Michelin Supercar Paddock was next. It is sponsored by Michelin who I think make the best road and racing tyres but are perhaps too eager to tell people that they sponsor the Michelin Supercar Paddock of Michelins. Depending on your view this was a place full of the latest fast cars, or a place a little too full of people who appeared to be more pleased with themselves than they should be. I saw a little of both. But boy are there some fast cars for sale right now. The Lucid electric bar of soap was faster than a very fast petrol Porsche sports car up the hill. 

I then left and assumed I would just bump into my car, but it took rather a long time to find the blue bastard and when I did it was a little too close to another car. At the services on the A34 I ate a McDonalds fast food meal. At the Membury Services, Westbound, thirty minutes later, my body rejected the McDonalds meal. I was back in the pub, in Bristol, by 6pm.

Verdict

Cracking day out. Watch out for smugness in the Michelin Supercar Paddock. 4.5/5

Chris Harris' column is a new weekly initiative where Chris will get stuck into the latest topics from the automotive world and other conversation points. The column will be published on the Collecting Cars platform and available to read in our new publication 'Club//Sport' that is distributed at our events around the world.