Here’s Why The Goodwood Festival Of Speed Is So Special
Photography by Ted Gushue
I’ve had about three weeks to process what happened at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed. It’s fully soaked in, and as I sat there staring at my keyboard looking for a way to describe the way it all came together, I realized the only way to express it was to give our Managing Editor Michael Banovsky a ring and gush about the event like a schoolgirl. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Ted Gushue: Basically, the only way I can describe the Goodwood Festival Of Speed is to ask you to imagine had one of the coolest houses/castles in the world, with just a ton of acreage and all the facilities you could ever possibly imagine. Then you just invite everyone you know and everyone they know and everyone that they know from Facebook over for the world’s biggest car party. I think that’s the only way I can describe it in a sentence or two.
The Goodwood Estate obviously has a huge history in motor racing. They have tracks, both horse and road. That’s were so many great drivers got their start. Where Derek Bell won his first trophy in 1964. You just have all of these incredible moments of motoring history that came out of there.
Michael Banovsky: Well, from the outside, it seems like people really make a point of showing up with their best toys, that Goodwood really brings out the best in people and their garages.
TG: It’s the range that’s most staggering. You’ve got guys like Lapo Elkann touching down in a helicopter, and then you have the guys that are pitching tents or parking caravans who are full-on die hard motorsport fanatics. It’s like Glastonbury for cars. You have this huge mix, this huge spread between super high society and super blue collar, and everyone is getting along because they’re all there to celebrate speed, which is the coolest part. You have all these cars, every car you could ever imagine. Some weird stuff, too. Stuff that you wouldn’t think that’s there, but because the hill climb is such an iconic way to debut a car you have like Toyota debuting a new hybrid there…followed by a pre-war Alfa Romeo.
It’s everybody and everything all at once. Like Nick Mason from Pink Floyd is driving the Auto Union. Keanu Reeves is driving his Arch motorcycle that he designed with his friend Gard. Patrick Dempsey’s there, racing a crazy Porsche. Jeff Zwart has his Pike’s Peak-winning car from 2014. There’s just amazing range.
MB: How do you stand out, then?
TG: I don’t think you have to stand out. I don’t think there has to be a moment where you are standing out. It is honorable and exciting to just fall into the mix and to blend in and to feel like a local. You have Jackie Ickx mixing with commoners. You have these people that are just doing their thing without any real pretense. Derek Bell is just walking around like a dude in a crowd. There are VIP sections obviously, but they’re not always in use. I was a guest of McLaren and in their booth you’d bump into Freddie Hunt, James Hunt’s son, just having a chat over an espresso.
You have kings, princes, and commoners all mixing around just watching stuff hoon up a hill. It is totally democratic in that everyone just admits to themselves at the end of the day they’re all 8 year old boys and girls who just want to see Ken Block do a donut.
MB: Can you explain why there aren’t any other festivals like Goodwood?
TG: It’s the antithesis of Pebble Beach. There are no straw hats, there are no judges, everyone’s sweaty and gross and wearing a Nomex suit and they’ve got dirt everywhere and mud up to their ankles, but they’ve got this big stupid grin on their faces and it’s just like, “Wow. This is what it’s all about.” This is the kind of stuff that I grew up with going to Lime Rock on the weekends, hanging out in the pits and just bullshitting with the guys. That’s something that’s very alive here. Nobody’s got a Q-Tip, cleaning out a tire tread for a judge to scrutinize. They’re lucky to get a shower in over two days. It’s a total mud bath…we had a Caterham 270R which we crashed because we just slid off the road without even trying in the mud.
MB: Oh jeez!
TG: It was some of the most good clean silly fun I think you could ever have at any kind of festival. To see it centered around motoring at that scale was really special.
MB: Well, the way you described it it sounds more like Woodstock with Jacky Ickx.
TG: You name the racing driver, they’re there. Jenson Button was there. Nico Rosberg was commenting on our Instagram because he was just scrolling through the geotag looking to meet up with people. That’s how it should be, right? It shouldn’t be this huge walled off affair where you can’t talk to anybody or touch any of the cars.
The only place you can’t go is on the track while the cars are going. The paddock is 100% open. There is no guard rail, just hay bales. You can walk into the paddock and pick up tools if you want. Everything is just touchable. You can go touch Les Mans-winning race cars and nobody gives a shit. They’re just like, “Yeah. Check it out. This is awesome.”
It’s this collective kind of like, “Ahhhh. This is what it’s all about.” That’s the energy I think that we need to make sure we keep fostering in this community. Not rail against Pebble Beach and Amelia Island and such, those events have their place. But in my mind, we should be holding a pint while watching a Mille Miglia winning BMW 328 Roadster be thrashed up a hill in the rain.
MB: Did you feel like you were missing anything as the days were going by?
TG: That is the one thing: there is just so much going on that you end up not seeing people that you intend to see, or cars that you’d want to watch. I’d recommend getting their early and staying as late as possible.
We obsessively covered the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, take a look at the other stories and photos from this exceptional event.