Goodwood 2009

Cars Culture


It’s opening day here at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009. No matter how often you come to these verdant Sussex hills, and no matter how part of the annual motorsport circuit the event becomes, it keeps getting better.

The mugginess of the latest heat wave of the summer has passed, and even at 8 AM this morning, the punters were like bees round the honey pot (and mostly brandishing digital SLRs). The nectar they’re all here to gather are images of what must be the most complete collection of sports cars, supercars, racers and concepts – from the very beginnings of the twentieth century bang up to the present day.


On show and flying up Lord March’s mile-long hill climb. Highlights in terms of pure automotive loveliness for me so far include the incredible collection of 917 Porsches running here as part of the fortieth anniversary celebration of that classic, all conquering racer. Another top show was the 2008 Ferrari F1 car, the driver of which put on a terrifying power slide in the finish area of the paddock at the top of the hill (much to the crowd’s jubilation.)


A particularly intense early assault on the senses was the warming up of the pre-war Mercedes and Auto Union ‘silver bullets’. These stratospherically powerful testament to early modernism’s need for speed were almost disgustingly loud and brutal. The exhaust fumes belched with a physical force that had the punters running for cover. That’s the beauty of Goodwood. You can get up close and personal with priceless, rare and beautiful historic cars, chat with the owners, drivers and mechanics, and generally get to breathe the air as the people who run and cherish these icons of automotive history.


As well as the intimate paddock and the hillclimb, you can check out Rally icons like the Group B Ford RS 200 on the forest rally stage at the top of the hill and drool over other Group B monsters like Walter Rohl’s Quattro. Sebastian Loeb is on scheduled to put on his current world champ act, and our Jenson and Lewis Hamilton are due to take a ride up the hill on Sunday.


It’s unlike any of the other events of the summer. If you haven’t got your ticket for 2009 yet, don’t worry. Look out for a broader selection of pics from this event right here next week.