Goodwood Fesitval of Speed 2002

That’s right, those are actual Formula One cars on that sculpture. Each year there is a different sculpture commissioned for Goodwood. The year pictured was 2002, where the featured marque was Renault.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed (not to be confused with the Goodwood Revival, which is a different event) is the single greatest car-related event I’ve ever been to. It’s better than F1 at Indy, better than F1 at Silverstone. Better than ALMS at Laguna Seca. The access to the cars is almost completely open and unlike anything I’ve seen in the US. People were putting their kids in the 2001 Le Mans-winning R8 for pictures. It’s unbeliveable, and to my knowledge there’s nothing else quite like it. Sure, there are similar events, such as the annual Monterrey Historics at Laguna Seca in California, and the Brian Redmond Classic which is held at Road America in Wisconsin, which are fantastic events, but for the sheer scope of cars present, and the open access to them, Goodwood stands alone.

The event is held on the property of Goodwood House, which is the home of Lord March in the Southern England (near Portsmouth). Don’t get the wrong impression of the event from the fact it’s held at someone’s house; Lord March has hundreds (perhaps thousands) of acres, and over 100,000 people attend the event each year. It is a weekend event, where cars of every type are driven on a hill-climb course along which spectators can freely roam, in some places within about 10 feet of the racing course. Visitors can also opt to purchase seats in the various grandstands which are setup along the course, though my personal recomendation is that it isn’t worth it; the runs are better seen on foot. Some cars run for time, and some cars simply put on a show, which is usually the case with the modern Formula One cars, which tend to stop several times along the route to do burnouts, etc.

Arguably the best part of the event, however, is that you can wander the paddock and get up-close-and-personal with the cars you’ve always dreamed about. Porsche 917k’s, Ford GT40’s, Audi R8’s, Ferrari F1’s; they’re all on hand and you can almost always walk right up to them and in many cases, touch them. The year I was there I was most interested in aerodynamic details like heat extraction and downforce, so you’ll see I really focused on those issues in many of the photos I took at the event.

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