The Goodwood Festival of Speed Rejects Your Cynicism, For This Is Still The Ultimate Mix Of Motors
Photography by Will Broadhead
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is now firmly ensconced into the conscience of the automotive world, and as one chap in the crowd said to me on Friday afternoon, “It’s come a long way since 1993”. When you think of it in those terms, it hits home as to how well an established event this has become, and yet each year it still feels fresh, despite the creeping presence of modern supercars.
It has changed of course in more ways than just that though. There is an almost overbearing amount of cars to see—and ever thicker crowds to wade through to get a good look. The ground covered by exhibits now feels like it goes on forever, and it is near impossible to feel like you’ve gotten to everything by the end of the weekend. At the heart of it though, the same ingredients that have allowed it to grow in scale and scope are there. The foundation of this unique event supports more temporary structures during the Festival weekend, but those who bemoan its growth should still find plenty of vintage metal to offset the rest.
What is the real x-factor of the event though? One can find top shelf cars at others around the globe, and after all, the Festival of Speed is in many regards just one large parade more or less bereft of the real racing that goes on elsewhere (and on this estate during the Revival and Members’ Meeting). But we love parades, the spectacle, the chance to see everything from NASCAR to rally car put on a pedestal. I’ve been around, but I still can’t think of anywhere else where I’ve seen such a flotilla of motoring history jammed into one place.
Cars from contemporary to classic litter the paddock, with an ease of access that is only limited by the amount of limbs in front of your lens. There are bikes and sidecars, supercars from all eras, F1 machines to WRC heroes, smokey drift shows to the Beast of Turin belching fire.
Highlights at this year’s Festival included the celebration of Michael Schumacher’s career, as the racing legend turns 50. Cars from across his career in motorsport were present in force, from Mercedes to a phalanx of Ferraris, Benettons, and Jordans from the F1 days. Some were static displays only, but most of them took a turn up the hill at some point, delighting the crowd with liveries and noises fondly remembered. There was also a fleet of Porsche 917s in various shapes that took to the hill, celebrating one of the most famous sports racing machines of all time.
Another feature that was particularly delightful and was the wooded rally stage near the top of the hill. Rallying is a sport that I have fallen back in love with over the past year, and it was my first proper trip to the course. Seeing the cars and liveries of machines that I lusted over as a kid made the event for me, reawakening the excitement and emotions of my childhood. That is the real essence of the Festival of Speed—nostalgia and discovery in equal parts. Fathers sharing memories with their children, kids forming their first of many to come. Teary-eyed men leaning on canes and earmuff’d toddlers jumping in unadulterated excitement. It’s cool or hip or whatever to be cynical about how big it’s gotten, but come here in person and watch one of your hero drivers take one of your hero cars up the hill and I bet you’ll have a big goofy smile on your face too.