I can’t hide the fact that I’m a big fan of all the Goodwood motoring events, so as soon as dates are announced I’m searching for accommodation to guarantee a bed for the weekend. Once tickets are released, I’m straight in, usually for two days only as there’s also no hiding that they are not cheap to attend. Booking so far in advance gives me something to look forward to. And, over the last few years have come to use the three big Goodwood motoring events, Members Meeting, FoS and Revival to mentally break my year up.
Anyone that has read other accounts from Goodwood events will know I really enjoy the drive down from my home on the London/Kent border to Chichester. Once past the utilitarian M25/M23 part and onto the A-roads, the drive becomes really enjoyable. It’s not a speed thing, even if I wanted to the morning traffic doesn’t allow for it, but more the sense of driving a great car along great roads. Like last year I booked supercar parking for the Thursday and there is still a special feeling driving onto the Goodwood estate and parking up in the centre of the event.
Walking through the paddock on a Thursday morning there is a sense of calm, with people going about there duties in a relaxed manner, it’s like the calm before the storm. There are also fewer people around which allows a chance to capture some uninterrupted photographs of the cars and mechanics. If you’re in early enough you can also make use of the great light too. There’s something magical about watching an event come to life, those moments as it idles calmly before slipping into gear and the throttle goes down.
A hot head
As engines fired up and cars started to manoeuvre from paddock to holding area the crowds started to increase and so did the temperature. Within a couple of hours, I was already seeking shade and regretting not bringing a hat. I soon rectified by hat issue and purchased a natty summer Fedora which bought not only relief to my hot head, but also a sharper sense of style too.
Rally action to cool down
Still seeking shade I thought it would be good to head up to the forest rally stage. Last year this had offered some good photo opportunities and this year was much the same. With drivers pushing the cars hard the speeds are fast, so finding a good corner or jump is key. Having found a good spot, the next challenge is mixed lighting caused by the cars darting from tree shade to bright sunlight. These situations do offer the chance to experiment with settings and with a large memory card taking chances is easy compared to shooting with film. I’ve really enjoyed the rally stage over the last couple of years as it’s not my normal kind of situation, plus, there are usually fewer people and in certain areas, you can safely get quite close to the action.
Celebrating on the Hill
The hill is by far the main attraction and as this year’s theme centred around “Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers” there was plenty of celebration runs up the hill. Among these was a group of 15 legendary Porsche 917 models in a special display marking their 50th anniversary. A selection of Michael Schumacher’s F1 cars to mark 25 years since the first of his seven F1 driver’s titles. Sir Jackie Stewart was also honoured with a series of his cars running to mark 50 years since his first Formula 1 world championship title. Among the other groups running up the hill was everything from vintage Bentleys and various land speed record cars to the fastest race cars and bikes from all disciplines.
Speeding up the hill
The current hill climb record has stood for twenty years. Nick Heidfeld claimed the record back in 1999, at the wheel of the then-current McLaren MP4/13, covering the 1.16-mile course in just 41.6 seconds. Every year since there has been anticipation that the record will be broken, but it hasn’t happened. The fact that this time has stood for that amount of time highlights what a driver Nick Heidfeld is and what a car that McLaren was too. However, this year the record was finally broken, decisively beaten by Volkswagen’s all-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak racer with a time of 39.9s.
Reflecting on another great Festival
Yet again the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been another great event. For me, just being there is enough. I enjoy a day on my own wandering around, taking photos, chatting to people and making new friends. I also enjoy sharing a day with friends just soaking in the atmosphere, while I may have my camera in hand on this second day, it’s become more about just enjoying the time. I’ve come to realise that when you only experience an event through a viewfinder, you may capture some good images but you also miss a hell of a lot. I started this year with the intent to take ‘less, but better’ images and I took about a 1/3 fewer images this year, whether they are better I guess time will tell.