The Festival of Speed has put Goodwood in the World map as the home of one of the most important annual automotive happeningsand it has given the UK a motor show which is not only relevant in the global scene – 20 world debuts this year – but also unique.
Where else can you chew a burger next to Nico Rosberg, open the VIP lounge to give way to Valentino Rossi or even take a leak facing the wall next to Jochen Mass (and the only reason why it is not possible to do it next to Sir Stirling Moss is because the living legends finds it easier today to drive vintage F1 than to stand on his feet).
Encounters like these any dozens of others which happen to a car journalist during the 3 days of the Goodwood Festival of Speed are priceless and are craved into anyone´s soul for a lifetime... anyone who does not prefer a smartphone to a car, that is...
Goodwood has seen it's share of EV's and phevs. This year we had the Regera, the Morgan Ev 3-wheeler, the Peugeot 308 R-Hybrid and a few others, but my best experiences have still been in gasoline powered cars.
I have had very unique experiences in my 25 years doing this job and many will be told to my grandchildren in front of the fireplace on a cold winter night. The Renault F1 drive in Paul Ricard, chasing Bernd Schneider in Hockenheim on a Mercedes SLS AMG under pouring rain or entering the Siena central piazza sitting next to Mika Hakkinen on a 1955 Mercedes SL waving to the roaring crowd will definitely be among the chapters of my memoirs. But my Goodwood moment will also deserve it's a little over 15 minutes of fame.
In 2010 I was given a chance to drive up the Goodwood hill in a Ford GT tuned by Roush. The idea was thrilling but little did I know it would be quite so dramatic. It is not unusual to rain in the UK, not even in June and for the sake of Murphy´s Law there it was that morning, raising the anxiety levels and the blood pressure of this writer turned celebrity during a momentary lapse of reason. Still I walked with a positive attitude to the Driver´s Club to sign in for the drive and got a bit startled by the name of the driver who had signed on the line just above mine: a certain Mr. Coulthard. When I join Ford´s team at the supercar paddock things didn't´ get any easier as just before sitting on the metal blue shinny and wet GT I was introduced to a Russian tycoon – naturally in the company of a few cement built chaps looking over his shoulders - who had just purchased the $ 150 000 plusFord I was going to control during what would clearly be the most defying 1,86 km of asphalt I had ever driven.
At no point would Nick Heidfeld´s 1999 hill record of 41,60 seconds - in a McLaren MP4/13 – in risk but after so many signs that I should follow a "Driving Miss Daisy" pace when going up the hill it became clear that being conservative would be the best strategy to get the job done... and live to tell. And a certain stage I got the feeling the fans were booing me for slowing down the weekend´s program, but still I did not abandon my turtle speed, after all there was a reputation – and a life – to be saved...
European Car of the Year Jury Member