There will be no surprised faces reading how much we love Goodwood FOS. We were but a couple in the droves of benevolent sunburnt zombies in typical English summer wears: grins-a-gurning, snouts and ears tuned to the scents and sounds of the ensemble of all time great automobiles and drivers that affords THE event on the petrolhead calendar it’s majesty.
Let us try and convey to you the experience in it’s entirety. Easing in at the shallow end then, I think we’ll start with the dislikes…
The cursed queues to get in. Extensive, snaking from the car parking on the Chichestian hillside all the way back down the arterial B roads for miles up and down round and round. Thats probably our fault for not being punctual enough, and not reading the excellent Survivors Guide.
A 9:30 arrival is simply slapdash. I suppose traipsing around for 9 hours during what is always a scorcher of a weekend doesn’t appeal too much either. Unavoidable really, so we can’t blame the hosts for that either. This event is of a scale that it requires your full commitment to the cause. Chances really are that if the organisers are responsible for it, it’s likely to contribute to the magic that is FOS and not lead in any way to cause for qualm. So, with that, onto the good…
Starting within the queues themselves. About five or so miles out from where the clotting began, an immaculate chlorophyll green Porsche 911 2.7 RS joins us with its engorged hips and ducktail engine deck lid reflecting and refracting the slivers of sunlight leaking through the canopy of trees.
Bleed out of the forrest and onto aforementioned hill side and you’re met with ant like specs that, as you close in, evolve into the most incredible cars. Honda NSX, Audi RS2, an F430, and an Aston Martin DB6 to name a few. Everything just comes up out of the woodwork for Goodwood. Thats where the addictive surreality begins, around 9:15am for us, and doesn’t stop until you’re well on your way home.
We were warned of the extensive trek we might have if we didn’t drop anchor in car park M, so naturally we ended up in S… and the walk wasn’t so bad. 10 minutes meandering up the car park in the general direction of festivities and you’re in the “supercar” parking. LaFerrari, 918, GT2RS, Mclarens, Astons, Lambos bla bla bla. It’s here the essence of FOS begins to coagulate around you, yet the swarm of exotica you’ve just navigated through has little to do with it. Its the noise, growing ever less distant with every step.
Clambering through the ticket gate we are engorged in the guttural howl that is unmistakably a race bred American V8. Wether it was the lunatic super trucks, Nascars, the mutant Mustang “Hoonicorn” or the ridiculous Mclaren-Chevrolet M8F was hard to decipher. Having experience of how loud the damn thing was, I suspected the latter…
Before you know it you’re in the paddocks with priceless racing cars flanking you in endless rows. Not a bad stumble for us was a cohort of historic Mclarens. “Harrods” F1 GTR 06R, “Fina” F1 GTR Longtail, 650S GT3, the Chevrolet powered monster I mentioned earlier (thus confirming I was wrong), all sat casually with no barriers and those responsible for them lounging in the centre soaking up the admiration.
As an enthusiast now rendered gormless by the sight of it all you can snake in and out of these invaluable pieces of historic machinery and snap away to your hearts content. Historic Porsches are lined up beyond with 956, 962, the less famed LMP1/98, and the spellbinding 917 appearing in Martini and Gulf Livery ‘K’ guises.
We caught the Gulf K with its skirt off- flat 12 engine spluttering at idle popping interval chuffs of flame from the exhausts. The noise was intoxicating, naturally. Such unimpeded access to any and all goings on around motor racing legends such as this is integral to what makes FOS the unrivalled priority event on the calendar that it is.
The legendary Mazda endurance racing cars were the pinups this year, appearing in celebration of the companies illustrious racing heritage. 787B, 767B and the little known RX-792P amongst others took to the hill for an out and out thrash. Like in the Porsche line up, we stumble into some mid show surgery for a poorly ‘B. We stood in awe inches away as a man whose expertise must be paralleled by less than a dozen others on Earth, was elbow deep in the four rotor tinkering away as if he and it were a beardy and his MG B.
As a result of the infectious unplugged nature of the Goodwood hillclimb effort a 767B numbered 202 met its demise. A mock up of the iconic “55” car hung atop the incredible “Kodo” sculpture flanked by the Vision Gran Turismo LM55 concept.
It was a spectacular item to behold towering above us spellbound punters, streaking across the Goodwood skyline. Here on Hondas behalf, we paid their fantastic 1:1 scale toy car box stand a visit. In the private area at the top of the toy box tower we found the seminal new NSX, hiding away from the rabid punters with just 100 examples allocated for distribution next year. Chequebooks of FOS punters waving would be, would you believe it, unwanted attention. Following the hospitality and chatter with our wonderfully gracious hosts at Honda UK, we headed for a bale side vista point.
The hill climb itself is obviously the most well documented spectacle of the Festival, and for good reason. Watching the 917 or the 787B you were just chatting to consume the hill with every ounce of bravery the driver could sweat out only adds to the spectacle. Its like watching a mate you were just talking to take to the stage at Wembley and drop the jaws of 40,000 fans.
Trackside serves as a bit of a break from the slog across the expanse of the grounds- with the added pleasure of the paddock posers now ripping seven hells out of the route. Koenigsegg One:1, Lamborghini Aventador SV, Mustang GT350R, Aston Martin Vulcan and Mclaren P1 GTR were some of the more impactful devices to head down the hill from the viewpoint of a spectator given the sight, sound and sheer pace most if not all exhibited.
We were also excited to see the new Civic Type R, Focus RS, 991 GT3 RS, Cayman GT4 and Aston Vantage GT12 take to the hill for their public dynamic debuts. GT350R, Ferrari F12 TRS and FXXK were particularly sonorous, although the nicest surprise in terms of its vocals was the Mclaren 570S- out singing the rather asthmatic sounding Ferrari 488 by some margin and improving on the 650S and 12C soundtracks significantly.
The future is looking (and predominantly sounding) brighter for the influx of the turbocharged sporting motorcar.
The generations of Formula 1 cars were a sight to behold and something you’ll unlikely experience in such a manor outside of FOS. Due to the gravity that FOS has, attractions that can be pulled in are not limited to two dimensions… The Red arrows put on a spectacular show as ever and the Eurofighter that rocked up whipped up an acrobatic storm for the slack-jawed-in-awe punters. It was particularly cool watching moisture vaporise over the wings in high G manoeuvres…
After watching the supercars “trundle” their way back down from their run to the Michelin paddock, we found ourselves tired, sunburnt, hungry, thirsty, and just about ready for home. Such is the overwhelming scale and expanse of Goodwood Festival Of Speed, you’d ideally take at least two days to traverse the lot with time to spare, but we got our fair dose. And wasn’t it intoxicating indeed (I refer only in part to the vaporised high octane hanging in the atmosphere anywhere within a 3 mile radius).
Goodwood Festival of Speed is just the yearly celebration of the smoggy and fast, to the zero emission heroes, that the dying breed that is the former needs. The coming few years are going to be trying for the internal combustion engine and we sorely hope it evolves adequately with the times, but FOS inspires real hope that a time when all of these incredible machines are melted down or left to rot is much further down the line than many fear.
It’s hard to allocate “best bits”, because the whole damn sum is just so fantastic. The highest compliment, perhaps, to what is absolutely a quintessential event for anyone with even the slimmest portion of petrol coursing through their veins.