Alice from the UK went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the first time this year, and is now keen to make it an annual pilgrimage. Here’s her report.
Picture credits: Alice West and Henry Longton
Why did you decide to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed?
I’m a bit of an F1 nut and would have loved to have travelled to a Grand Prix this summer, but my husband and I are on an economy drive this year after a big blowout trip to Interlagos (and then a holiday in Rio) last winter.
We had heard lots about Goodwood but never got around to booking tickets, so decided this was our year. We booked tickets to go on the Sunday – the big finale day.
How did you get there?
We were lucky enough to stay with friends who live a few miles from Goodwood, so we drove down the evening before and set off at 9 in the morning. The notoriously bad traffic was actually fine at this time of the morning and we queued minimally to get into the car park. Leaving was another story, though – it must have taken an hour to get two miles out of the park when we left at 6ish.
Parking is free and a short walk to the site itself, though hilly depending on where you park. They run shuttle buses from the bottom of the hill to the top, as well as from the main site to the top of the hill climb track.
How much did it cost?
General admission day tickets cost £60 and a grandstand seat would have been another £40, which we didn’t think was necessary given that there was SO much to see and do. Food was your usual outdoor event fare, though lots of choice and all seemed to be good quality. Put it this way – don’t expect change from a tenner if you fancy a gourmet burger and a bottle of coke!
Next year we’ll bring a picnic as there’s plenty of space to sit down and spread out a blanket, and lots of other people were doing that. Facilities were very good, generally. Lots of loos and picnic tables, and a First Aid tent for a member of our party who overheated! Take note – the main site has very little shade on a hot sunny day!
Tell us about your day
The day’s main, ongoing event is the 1.6 mile hill climb, and you can get incredibly close to the track if you want to. The track snakes its way from the open fields in front of Goodwood House up through forest to the finish line, and different divisions race throughout the day with the oldest cars racing first. Get a programme or a mini radio to catch up on the commentaries as the tannoy can’t be heard clearly from everywhere. The Sunday racing ended with a shootout time trial between the weekend’s top twenty fastest cars, where Sebastian Loeb scooped the prize but failed to beat Nick Heidfeld’s 1999 record. Walking up the hill and away from the main arena will afford you better views and fewer crowds, as well as an exciting walk through woodland where you find yourself flanked by two racing tracks – the hill climb and the rally track.
Aside from the racing we were treated to an incredible air display by a Midair Squadron Hawker Hunter XL577, and a Q&A appearance on the balcony of Goodwood House with Sir Stirling Moss, Lord March and Lewis Hamilton. We spotted Sir Jackie Stewart striding through the crowds followed by a long entourage, and Damon Hill having a wander post-race with Charley Boorman. Jenson Button was there as well as Sebastian Buemi and Pedro De La Rosa, and Kimi Raikkonen, the Williams F1 team and John Surtees.
Of course, the car park was a spectacle in itself and the festival site had stands representing all the major F1 teams as well as plenty of the usual merchandise stalls and driving simulation games. And this is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what was going on over the weekend. One day was enough for me but if you’re really into your motorsport I’d recommend camping like lots of visitors do, and perhaps attending over two days so you can see and do more.