Top Gear, when the old boys were still presenting, famously said that you can’t claim to be a true ‘Petrolhead’ unless you have owned an Alfa Romeo; however I would add to that and say that you can’t claim to be a true ‘Petrolhead’ unless you have experienced the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It is the ultimate car and motorsport event in this country, and attracts over a hundred thousand visitors over 4 days, but many people have still never heard of it or don’t really know what it is.
So why is it such a ‘must do’ event? Well for many reasons, which makes it more difficult to explain. The first thing is the sheer diversity of things taking place there and the wide variety of people there. You will find yourself walking past racing drivers, You-Tubers, television personalities, F1 team managers, random celebrities and crowds of the general public. The real attraction though is the wide variety of things on offer to see or experience.
The main focus of the event is very simple, it is a ‘hill climb’, time-trial. Cars sprint the 1.1 mile course against the clock, with a ‘final’ being held on the Sunday. However, it’s not really a hill and not all cars race against the clock. You can experience F1 drivers doing doughnuts in their latest cars, Ken Block hooning around, Valentino Rossi doing wheelies, and car manufacturers showing off their latest sports cars and supercars for example. The paddocks, where the cars are kept, are open to the public and this is a chance to see dream cars at close quarters. Ferrari and Alfa Romeo always have a presence here of both current and classic cars from their respective heritage divisions.
There is a Concourse D ’Elegance with some of the rarest and most coveted cars in existence on display. This is not quite up to the level of the Pebble Beach or Villa D ’Este events, but is still hugely impressive. It is a chance to get up close to some of the most stunning cars ever made, which you would never get to experience otherwise.
There is a rally stage, with historic and contemporary cars taking to the course. There is also a motocross/ trials bike display area, with riders achieving huge jumps. There is always an air display, with the red arrows showing what they can do. There is shopping, a wide variety of food on offer and corporate experiences aplenty. There is just too much to mention and no way of experiencing it all in a day. I have been many times and still not seen it all.