Thursday, July 3, 2014

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014

Here is my report on our visit to the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Enjoy!

Day 1

The origin of this trip to Goodwood was Alex’s brilliant idea for a birthday gift for me last January. Five months later, we found ourselves in England, tickets to the 4-day event in hand. My expectations coming to Goodwood were pretty high... I kept hearing how it was THE automotive event for racing enthusiasts. Alex, Rob and myself had purchased the 4-day passes to attend the whole event, including the Thursday “Moving Car Show”, where people can actually drive cars up the circuit, or ride as passengers with professional drivers. As we were travelling with our almost-two-year-old son Jules, we knew we would not necessarily be able to cover every aspect of the event. We did not plan to arrive that terribly early and we got stuck in traffic leaving Southsea and again as we approached the event. It didn’t help that there were signs telling us that certain roads had no access to Goodwood, despite the indications of our GPS. When we finally arrived, I could tell just from the cars in the parking lot that this event was a big deal. I have never seen this many exotic and sports cars in one place, and they were just parked on the grass, just like anybody else.

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The magnificent Mercedes sculpture, which reached right over Goodwood House
When we first entered the front gate, we were surrounded with a portion of the show area devoted to aircraft, which was less interesting for us. We headed for the giant tent devoted to the rolling car show, which had been subdivided into areas for each manufacturer. We started out at Ferrari, and Jules immediately recognized where we were. Rob went to check how it worked to actually drive the cars, and was told that it was basically already too late, as the waiting lists were full. We decided to wander around the site and I started to realize one of the truly amazing things about this event: the access we get to unbelievably rare or valuable cars. We wandered onto the Nismo stand, and there was a GT3 spec GTR, and we just opened the door and looked inside. I even let Jules play in the car until we were asked to take him out. Jules loves getting into cars at automotive events like this. As we kept walking, we came across the Porsche 919, the same as the ones raced at Le Mans two weeks ago. Again, we could walk right up to the car.

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Jules explores the GT3 Nissan GTR
As we continued, we walked by the main house of the premises. It’s actually not that impressive a house (the grounds and the quantity of out buildings are quite incredible however). This year’s sculpture was a giant white arc, which actually arched right over the house. It had a 1930’s GP Mercedes and a current F1 Mercedes, to celebrate Mercedes’ 120-year anniversary in racing.
We continued to the Cartier Style et Luxe area, and again, I could not believe the cars on display: 60’s Maseratis and Ferraris, a Lamborghini Miura, a Ford GT40 street version, a Lister, a Bristol, a Marcos, a rare Mazda rotary sports car from the 70’s, even a Ferrari 250LM, a multi-million dollar car just parked on the grass, and one could walk right up to it. We sat on the front lawn and had a picnic lunch. After lunch, we went in to see the Maserati 100th anniversary display. The display was made up mostly of new cars, as the vintage cars were out on the lawn, and the race cars could be found in their own section of the paddock.

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A Ferrari 250 LM parked on the lawn
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Jules was having a good time as well
We then stumbled upon the first of the paddock areas. It contained the modern supercars, all brand new cars. This allowed me my first look at many cars I had only seen on the internet, including the Koenigsegg One:1, the LaFerrari, the Noble M600 (we had seen one of these on the way to the event, but I had not known what it was), the Lamborghini Huracan and the Porsche 918. There was also a really cool Morgan with steel wheels and a couple of track-prepared Lotus’ and GTR’s.
We stopped at the Mazda MX5 25th anniversary stand and of the the Mazda reps complimented me on my Pistonheads t-shirt. We talked a bit about Miatas and moved on. We came across a paddock filled with historic race cars, including Jaguar C-types and D-types, Maserati MC12’S, a bunch of priceless and more recent Maserati’s, and several endurance racers and touring cars, including a 1996 Audi A4 from the BTCC.

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A very cool Morgan looking sharp, even on steelies
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Stunning XJR-9
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One of my all-time favourites, the Lancia Delta S4
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A 190e 2.3-16 made famous by Senna
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Jules enjoying a couple of superbikes
We also came upon some unbelievably exotic rally cars, including a Lancia Delta S4, Ford RS200, Pike’s peak Peugeot 405 and a Paris-Dakar Mitsubishi Pajero. We walked back to the manufacturer areas, passing a Brabus AMG G63 6x6 700 edition (bonkers) and ended up in the McLaren area. We got a first look at the P1 and several historic McLaren F1 cars, as well as a Can-Am racer. By this time, Jules had settled in for his afternoon nap in his stroller and we continued exploring the paddocks. We found several more endurance cars, including three significant cars from Le Mans 1998, which Rob and I attended: the Mercedes CLK-GTR, the Porsche GT1 and the Toyota GT-One.  Other significant cars for me: Audi S1, Trans-Am Audi 90GTO, Senna-driven Mercedes 190e 2.3-16, the class winners of three of the four classes from Le Mans 2014, Porsche 917, 956 and 962. By this time, the day was pretty much over. We posed for a photo on the hillclimb course, which had been mostly inactive all day, and headed back to our rented Fiat 500L for the drive back to Southsea.

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Standing on the course during a brief break in the action
Day 2
As soon as we arrived at the event on Friday, we noticed a big difference from the day before: there were incredible sounds coming from the hillclimb course. We got as close to the course as we could and saw a bunch of vintage F1 cars fly past, some screaming, some burbling. There was also a Group44 Jaguar E-type racer. We also saw a bunch of motorbikes, most of which I could not identify, as I don’t know much about race bikes. We decided to take the shuttle up to the rally stage, a whole separate track set up in the woods near the top of the hillclimb course. Jules enjoyed the ride up, as it involved being pulled in a trailer behind a huge tractor. When we arrived at the rally paddock, it was incredibly low-key, as cars were puttering about and drivers were walking around in their Nomex, just hanging out. Although it was low-key, the cars on hand were absolutely first-rate:  Lancia Stratos, 037 Rally and Delta S4, WRC Focus and Corolla, Audi A1 Quattro, MG Metro 6R4 and a bunch of old Escorts. It turned out to be a nice place to have a relaxing lunch. After lunch, Jules fell asleep and we wandered into the woods to see the rally cars in action. The stage they set up (designed by Hannu Mikkola) was beautiful, but too tight to allow serious speeds. Still, we got some cool photos and got to see and here some very rare rally cars in action, all in a short period of time. 

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Yet another Delta S4, this one set up for the rally stage
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Another Group B special, the MG Metro 6R4
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Didier Auriol driving his Toyota Corolla WRC on the rally stage
We walked back down along the hillclimb course and caught some more F1 cars in action. We tried to cover Jules’ ears with the ear protectors we had brought for him, but he immediately removed them. He did not seem to mind the sounds of race engines screaming to 12000 rpm. Further down the hill, we got to see the endurance cars running up the course. Jules was starting to run out of interest, and after a brief visit to the Porsche area to check out the 918, we headed to the family area, where they had brought in replicas of the cars from Wacky Races, the 1970’s cartoon. Jules got to sit in each car and seemed to be enjoying himself. We ended the day at that point and headed home.

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A Ferrari sports car on the hillclimb course
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Emerson Fittipaldi in an F1 car he used to race
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A rare Lancia Beta Monte Carlo racer
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The Harrod's sponsored McLaren F1 endurance racer
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The iconic Rothmans Porsche 956 and 962 were both present
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As was the Gulf-liveried Porsche 917K
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Le Mans-winning Sauber Mercedes
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Jules enjoying a wacky racer
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Another Wacky racer
Day 3

We began day 3 in the car-show area and let Jules sit in a few of the cars on display. Some of the women working in the area instantly fell under Jules’ charm. When Jules was spending less than 10 seconds in a car before deciding to change, we moved out to another area. In the Cartier area, they had added a display of cars belonging to Chris Evans, including a Ferrari Daytona, an F40, a 250 GT and a couple of Aston Martins. There was an impressive air display by the Red Arrows, but Jules was surprisingly uninterested. 
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One of the Chris Evans collection, a beautiful F40
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The Red Arrows in action
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Red Arrows
We decided to walk over to the Supercar parking area, and again I was astounded by the cars parked there. There were again cars I was seeing in person for the first time, like the Pagani Huayra, the McLaren SLR 722, Alfa Romeo 8C and the incredible Noble M600 Carbon.  We decided to stop for lunch there, as it was a safe grassy area where J. could walk around. As we headed back into the event, we found a good spot on the hillclimb course from which to watch the action. Alex quickly fell asleep, but Jules took some convincing. Rob and I were enjoying the action on the course, as well as a display on the sky by a vintage military aircraft, the Vulcan. We saw touring cars, stock cars, rally cars and endurance racers. The mix of cars was incredibly diverse. We also saw the supercar shootout, where many of the supercars competed for the fastest time up the hill. After an early quick time by the Lexus LFA, Anthony Reid set a blistering time of 50 seconds in the Noble M600, only to be beaten out by the incredibly fast Nissan GTR Nurburgring edition, with Yann Mardenborough behind the wheel, with a stunning time of 49 seconds. I think we eventually saw almost every car from the paddock in action on the course. We ended the day a bit early and headed home, feeling that we had seen almost all there was to see at Goodwood. There was one thing we absolutely wanted to see on the last day however: the timed runs of the hillclimb.

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A Noble M600 Carbon Sport... with full carbon fiber bodywork
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The stunning variety of the supercar parking area
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J. checking out an early Lotus Esprit
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Yes, they raced Jaguar XJS's in the 80's
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I have a 1:24 scale model of this very Lancia 037 Rally
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The Delta S4 that was set up for tarmac
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Rear view of the Delta S4
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The Audi that won Le Mans 2014 over all
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1998 Le Mans winning Porsche GT1
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The surprising Bentley Continental GT3
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Another car from Le Mans 1998, the Mercedes CLK-GTR
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Front view of the Harrod's McLaren F1
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This Aston Martin also won its class at Le Mans 2014
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The Silk Cut Jaguar on the hill
Day 4
Alex decided it would be best if she and Jules did not attend Day 4 so they could have a more relaxing day in Southsea and so that Rob and I could focus on the last things we wanted to see at the event. Rob and I arrived at the event at about 9:30 and again checked out the manufacturers’ area, after my feeble attempt to sell Alex’s unused ticket for a few pounds. Our plan was to be on the hillclimb course where we had been the day before after lunch so that we could have front-row seats for the shootout. We watched a few cars and bikes run up the hill before lunch, We saw the Chris Evans cars (one being driven by the man himself) and the supercars once again. After a while, we wandered around the amazing temporary display areas set up by the manufacturers. I took a seat in the Seat Leon spec race car, and was impressed by some of the simple yet lightweight parts used in the interior. It made me miss my own race car to sit in another one. In fact, the whole event got me thinking it would be fun to participate in a hillclimb back home later this year (Rob and I participated in one in Vermont in 2002 or 2003).  After having been rejected at the Audi viewing areas the day before for not being Audi owners, we decided to have lunch in the BMW lounge. We did not have our BMW key fobs, but Rob had his registration papers (showing he actually has 2 BMW’s) and we were allowed in. Their viewing area was not the best as far as how well we could see the course, but we were very comfortable.

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Chris Evans' F40 on the hill
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This McLaren P1 ran in electric mode most of the way up the hill
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The Koenigsegg One:1 on the hill
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GTR Nurburgring edition, which won the Supercar Shootout
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Pagani Huyara in action
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The LaFerrari also made the climb
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The Lexus LFA was not slow up the hill...

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The Porsche 918 was not quick, but it was running in 100% electric mode
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Eurofighter in action
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I also have a 1:24 scale model of this Escort RS Cosworth
As planned, we headed to our spot on the course, and after a wait of about 45 minutes in the second row of people, we made it to the front row. We then stayed put. We got to see some amazing things before the shootout, including Kimi Raikkonen and John Surtees drive up the hill head-to-tail in the F1 cars each had driven to championships. Many drivers did massive burnouts, including Lewis Hamilton and Sébastien Loeb.  In the air, we saw the only remaining air-worthy Canberra jet in the world (these planes saw service from the 1950’s to the 1990’s). Finally, it was time for the shootout. Surprisingly, Loeb, who was driving the Pikes Peak record car from 2013, was one of the first cars to run. He set an incredible time in the 44-second range, but failed to beat the all-time record set by Nick Heidfeld in a Formula 1 car in 1999 (in the 41-second range). The car was unbelievable fast. After that, it was a bit anticlimactic, as no one else came really close to his time. There was a high 45-second time set by a Maserati MC12, and then it was all over. We decided to make a quick exit in an attempt to stay ahead of the massive crowds, and we were on our way. After an incredible and exhausting four days, our Goodwood Festival of Speed was over, just like that. I cannot believe all of the car-related content I have ingested over this weekend... I fell it will not all fit in my brain, and I’m glad I have been able to remember enough to write this all down (it helped that I have over 1800 photos to remind me of what I saw).

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Two champions: Surtees leads Raikkonen up the hill
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Did I mention the crazy variety of cars?
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Burnouts: not just for the newer cars
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Loeb doing a massive burnout
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Where else will you see four D-Types in one shot?
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Short-wheelbase Audi S1 Quattro
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GT1 class Maserati MC12 (one of several on hand)
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80's donuts in the R5 Turbo
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I could not get enough of this TWR XJS
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Modern F1 cars can do donuts too
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This is Loeb's winning run on the timed hillclimb
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Senna's first F1 car: 1984 Toleman
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Ari Vatanen's 1987 Pikes Peak record-breaking Peugeot 405
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A Rare Jaguar XJ220 race car
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This Maserati MC12 was surprisingly quick, not too far behind Loeb's Peugeot

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