God, Goodwood’s incredible. Truly, uniquely incredible. Just walk through the gates – the supercar-lined gates – and you’re immediately confronted with Lord Drayson’s EV racer, Toyota’s LMP1 Le Mans cars, and a Marshall Amp funny car. That’s literally ten steps from the entrance. Another five steps and there are ten – TEN – original Martini racers. Another few steps and there’s the Bentley Continental GT3 racer, not roped off and fully gropeable, followed by the paddock stuffed to the gills with historic racers, which require you duck under awnings and step over tool boxes, lending the enterprise a sense of luck discovery. The fact that the Twizy F1 concept, a car that nearly burnt the entire internet to cinders, is tucked in quiet corner speaks volumes…
Thinking about it – and if you’re planning to come along - the paddock’s where it’s at. OK, so you don’t get to see the full-bore wide-open-throttle hill-climbery, but you’ll never be this close to running, driving – albeit at walking pace - historic racers without a few million quid. Or a FIA Super License (though the two tend to go hand in hand). Then there’s the noise. It doesn’t spear you as it would if you were spectating, over in a blur of sponsor’s logos and spoilers. It rumbles directly into your lungs, stays a while and makes itself at home while slowly melting your ear drums. Oh, and the smell. It’s sulphuric, a bit painful and unequivocally racecar. It also gives you the uncanny sensation that your nasal hair is beginning to dissolve.
As is so often the case, if there’s something making a lot of noise and a bad smell, cameraphones soon follow. Every iteration of electronic rectangle is pointing at the cars, constantly. It’s like a sort of budget arena screen, and you can almost hear the internet being filled up by the second.
There’s an unusual mix of people here, too. One half preened to casual perfection, the other girded for a stag do, with a few Hell’s Angels and disorientated girlfriends lobbed in. This makes rich pickings for the earwigger. In the same clump of human congestion, the overheard conversations ranged from a bespectacled member of the landed gentry enquiring to a pal about who’d be best to restore his 911 RS, to “Big Steve” asking “Bodge” if he’d remembered to “bring the skins”. We know their names because they were printed on their T-shirts.
That’s another thing. It’s busy here. Really busy. Tickets sold in record time this year, and the event’s attracted record numbers – hardly surprising considering the cross-section of motoring on display, which stretches from 1913 to 2013. But because there’s so much to look at, the crowd moves… slowly. Like a Balkan funeral procession. So reconciling a place with a time is virtually impossible, which gives you a chronic, constant case of FOMO.
We only managed to catch the end of Dougie Lampkin’s display – remember him from Sunday’s show? – for example. And before we knew it we were sucked into the village of corporate prefab cubes loudly, improbably combining amateur performance art, post-industrial dubstep, and the new Fiesta ST.
If you have got tickets, you should have a look on the Mercedes stand, too. Not just for the A45 AMG, E63 AMG estate, CLA 45 AMG, CLS 63 AMG Shooting Break, C65 Edition 507, new S-Class, and SLS AMG Electric Drive (though they are worth a look). But for the parade of young men queuing up to have an awkward picture taken with Lewis Hamilton’s new ride. It’s charming. Just make you sure you don’t stay long enough for the annoying man to come over the tannoy and start making arch, corporate comparisons between AMG and things like thunder and muscle and steak.
You really, really should take the time to get up into the grandstand, too. It’s located about a quarter of a mile from the sun, and if you can’t find it, listen out for people audibly crackling. This is where you get to see pretty much everything that’s static being punted up the hill. And it’s here that you’ll get the real spirit of Goodwood. It’s like a motorsport after-party. Every car, truck, or bike gives a little something for the crowd. Whether it’s a throttle blip, 360, or full, horrifically loud burnout.
Just have a look at some of our highlights from the weekend above…
Pictures: Rowan Horncastle