GALLERY: 75 Of Our Favorite Photos From The 2021 Goodwood Festival Of Speed
Gallery by Charlie B Photography
“Festival of Greed” has been the pun of choice for the cynically cool to describe one of the motoring world’s most popular and publicized events for years now. To its critics, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is totally contrived, wholly corporatized, and the oldest of news. They are not exactly in disagreement with the event’s fans.
The weekend is a Hot Wheels collection in operable 1:1 scale laid out around the extravagant driveway of a Duke’s estate in England. The whole point is to have your attention yanked back and forth by the unique but collectively cool cars that are brought together for the sake of being brought together. Being contrived is a given, and between the decades, disciplines, and designs of these machines, the main overlap is that each is superlative in its own right.
Comparing this event to a grassroots get-together for niche car enthusiasts misses the point, and the especially whiney examples fall in the same critical camp as the music snob who knowingly chuckle at the artless fools who enjoy greatest hits albums while everyone else is too busy enjoying the music to defend their recently and unknowingly taken position as a casual. It’s great to know a lot about something, or even just care a lot about something, but the prime activity of a hobby should be enjoying what you like about it, not policing how other people participate in it.
And of course the Festival of Speed is intertwined with money from the car companies that want yours. Any boring corporate sheen is just part of the price to be paid to get this many unique and exceptional machines together in a place that a regular person can access. As far as the old news element, the fact that this event has reliably assembled such a high calibre of cars each year just makes it that much easier to gripe about the sponsors and take important basic elements—the mix and quality of cars—for granted.
This is not to suggest that we’re somehow cooler than the cool people who don’t praise big-budget car shows like the Festival of Speed, but with practically every event being canceled last year, it feels like we’ve been given an opportunity to reassess their context and why we attend them at all.
It’s possible to enjoy the Festival of Speed while complaining about the growing percentage of new cars going up the hill year in, year out—that’s how most do it, but as is the case with so much of the media pushed our way, the loudest and most critical voices are often at the forefront in place of the majority of rational opinions. We’re probably being too kind to defend an event that doesn’t need it, but after having a year without this and all sorts of other big and small, cool and uncool, car-centric events, it’s easy to stick up for anything that people ultimately enjoy.