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The Goodwood Festival of speed described as "The garden party of the Gods!" is an annual 3 day motor racing festival held at Goodwood House in Sussex. The event normally falls around June or July and is scheduled to fit in around the 24hours of Le Mans and the formula one calendar. It is one of the only places in the world where the fans of motor sport can get up close and personal with such a mixture of vehicles and the drivers and riders who made them so famous.
The event is well known for its sculptures. These stand proudly in front of the house each year. One car manufacturer is chosen and the sculpture is commissioned to represent them the most spectacular have been Ford GT40's in the order they finished Lemans wipers going and spray falling and Hondas bouncing formula one cars. 2008 saw a giant rock made of Steel that stood 34 metres high and held land Rovers. Thus showing the go-anywhere capability of the brand.
The event is focused around the Hill climb which runs right past the front of the house the cars and bikes, separated into groups take it in turns to drive the route most are timed although many including modern day F1 cars do not go for a fast time and prefer to smoke the tires and general show off with the odd donut added in for good measure.
There is also a rally stage that was created a few years ago and set up in the trees the rally cars from past and present show off their skills each day.
A side from the track action there is plenty of stalls and things to do. There is a stage with live music, surrounded by merchandise stores and food stalls. There is off road driving experiences where for a fee you can have the chance to be a passenger in a 4x4 driven by an expert. There is also plenty for the kids to do with a crèche, games, face painting and plenty to see and do.
There is also the supercar run where new supercars show the crowd what they are made of. Over the past few years Goodwood has had some amazing Supercar's which you can get close to these include the Bugatti Veyron (there were 3 this year), McLaren SLR roadster, Ariel Atom, Caparo T1 and the Ferrari Enzo.
~+~ THE VEHICLES ~+~
The event attracts a host of cars and bikes from all age's right up to modern day racers. There are normally round 7 current Formula one teams in attendance with up to date machinery these have included in recent years Ferrari, McLaren, Honda, Renault, Red Bull Racing, Williams, Toyota, and BMW There is always a collection of new rally cars which perform on the hill climb and rally stage. Modern day MotoGP and world super bikes sit proudly alongside those from yester year and majority take their place in the hill climb fun.
Some of the most incredible machines that have made an appearance in recent years are:
* Richard Petty's Dodge Charger
* Lewis Hamilton's McLaren F1 Car
* Bob Riggle's Plymouth Wheelie car
* Stirling Moss' 1954 Vanwall
* 1965 gulf coloured GT40 lemans
* Porsche 917 from the film Le Mans
* 1938 Auto union type D
~+~ THE PEOPLE ~+~
Along with the cars there is always plenty of well known drivers and riders at the festival. It is quite common to se them wandering round looking at the cars and bikes and they are always really friendly and willing to talk to the fans and pose for photos...when it comes down to it they are fans as well.
Some that I have seen and met at the festival include:
* Lewis Hamilton
* Jenson Button
* David Coulthard
* Rubens Barrichello
* Fernando Alonso
* James Toseland
* Casey Stoner
* Stirling Moss
* Jackie Stewart
* Petter Solberg
* Mikko Hirrvonen
* Derek Bell
* Jochen Mass
* Mika Hakkinen
* Damon Hill
* Nigel Mansell
~+~ OVERAL OPINION ~+~
I have attended The Goodwood Festival of Speed for 8 years now and have never had a bad experience. Not until you attend do you understand how close you can get to the vehicles and drivers. From looking under the bonnet of the winner of lemans to standing as the Honda F1 Car fires up or the Renault F1 car plays the national anthem with its engine. There is very little that would force me to miss Goodwood we have a great time each year. The drivers and riders have been nothing but nice especially the likes of Jenson Button Stirling Moss and Mika Hakkinen.
I would recommend this event to anyone with an Interest in Motor sport it is well worth the price which is around £90 - £100 for the weekend, so that's 3 whole days of action. There is no extra cost for pit or paddock access like other events so this price allows you anywhere. There is however extra cost for grandstand seats but you can see plenty of action without these and although I had one the first year I haven't since. It is also advanced tickets only.
There is plenty of car parking which is in the form of fields but there is tractors for transport to and from the car park. There is no hard surface parking so the car park reads like a who's who of road cars. Metros parks alongside Ferraris and Beetles sit next to Aston martins and sometimes just walking through the car park is fun.
It's a great weekend for anyone interested in motor sport and something all fans should experience at least once in their life.