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Madness of Goodwood
A quaint English county suddenly comes to life on a weekend and fills up with the smell of burnt rubber
Goodwood, a quaint little village in the English county, would have never shown up on the map if a lad, in the early ’90s, wouldn’t have thought of calling a few friends over and thrown open a narrow road in his backyard for them to race their cars.
And an event that was meant to be just a local attraction on a summer weekend, over the past 25 years, has somehow become one of the key events in the motorsport calendar all over the world.And for good reason. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is nothing like any other motoring event that takes place anywhere in the world.
For those of you who are still alien to this motoring fest, I’ll try to explain the gigantic-ness of the FoS. Think of a huge music festival and multiply the intensity by ten. Replace the noise of the drums and the guitars with that of V8 and V12s. FoS is something close to that. Huge crowd, passionate participants, mental machines and loads of automotive activities is what Goodwood FoS basically is.
There’s no other motoring festival anywhere in the world that brings machines and the brave men behind the wheel from such varied backgrounds. You’ve got F1 cars, WRC cars, superbikes, drag bikes, Nascars, Indy racers, supercars and hypercars all lined up on the same grid, waiting to go up the same track and here for one common reason – the love for speed. FoS isn’t like an F1 race weekend, where a MotoGP fanatic will get bored. Or a Nascar race where a WRC fanatic will struggle to be entertained.
It’s got everything. New cars, race cars, classic cars and even pre-war race cars going up the famous hill to set a time. With all this diversity around, the atmosphere just gets so electric that it’s impossible to discribe in words.
This time around, though, the Goodwood Festival of Speed was a little more special. And that’s because there was someone celebrate its birthday at the event. Who’s that, you ask? None other than Porsche that celebrates its 70th birthday at Goodwood. So what’s the menu for the birthday party, you wonder? Each and every prominent racecar they’ve built till date – from the 1978 Porsche 935 ‘Moby Dick’ to 2017 919 Tribute Le Mans racer. And from the production line up Porsche 356 from 1948 to 911 GT2 RS from 2018, there’s everything on the platter. If that’s not enough, Porsche’s got a replica of the monument from its HQ with full-scale cars displayed on it. It’s electrifying.
Unlike any other motoring show or a museum, you actually get to see these cars do the run up the hill and set a time. And trust me when I say this, it’s just a different feeling to see these cars go by so close to you, at full throttle. The smell of burnt rubber and unburnt fuel from these Porsches of the past gives you an idea of the rich heritage of the brand and the R&D that has gone in for seven decades, which indirectly makes all of its cars born racers. While the hill climb – a 1.8km long narrow road – is the centre of attraction for the weekend, it’s got plenty of static and dynamic attractions to keep you entertained.There’s a freestyle Motocross event, an air show an off-road experience zone on the dynamic side and supercar and classic car paddocks for your eyes. And not just that, with the way the festival has grown over years, it’s also now a platform for carmakers to show their latest offering, where you don’t only see that model standing, but can also see it do the run, if you’re lucky.
Sunday, the last day of the event, is when the final shootout takes place. And that’s an unique experience because it’s the same track, same rules and same environment for F1, WRC, Nascar, Indycar and any other race machine that wants to compete in the event. And unlike racetracks of today with big gravel pits and ample of run off in case something goes wrong, the hill climb at Goodwood Festival of Speed has no safety nets except a few hay bales to soften the blow. And with inches to spare on either sides, it’s the precision with which the driver pilots his machine through the twisties.With electric cars as the future of road cars, it’s only stupid to not imagine them to be making their way in to the racetracks. And apart from the Porsches and the Ferraris and the Aston Martins that attracted eyeballs, it was the VW I.D R Pikes Peak that got a lot of attention. And guess what, with a time of 43:65, it was the fastest up the hill this year.