The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a celebration, like no other, of the automobile as a source of ingenuity, endurance, perseverance and, most of all, entertainment.
You’ll see people of all ages, wide-eyed and enamoured by the exotic mix of machinery on display – static, and charging up the driveway of the Festival’s patron, Lord March. He gives up his estate – grounds, front lawn, mansion, the works – in the South of England to thousands of motoring enthusiasts for an event that’s become one of the biggest and most exciting on the annual calendar.
The most incredible thing about the festival is that, as you’re examining the patina of a 30-million-dollar Ferrari from the 60s, you’re likely to be rubbing shoulders with a racing legend from years past without even realising it. There’s simply no other event, anywhere in the world, where you can get this up close and personal with such priceless machinery.
Lord March has also turned his two-kilometre driveway into the setting for the most eclectic hill climb in the world. The fastest car up the hill this year – which beat the record held by a McLaren Formula 1 car – was an otherworldly electric machine known as the McMurtry Speirling. This is like nothing you’ve ever set eyes on before – it’s tiny, appears to be shaped by the wind and looks absolutely lethal. It accelerates to 60mph in 1.5 seconds and produces more downforce than an F1 car at speeds of up to 150mph. It’s so fast that it’s constantly weaving under its own power and looks almost supersonic as it flies past.
It’s not surprising that four of the ten quickest machines at Goodwood this year were electric. And one was hydrogen-powered. But my favourite machine of the top ten was the car that came in fourth – a Subaru GL station wagon from the 1980s. But this isn’t just any family wagon. This is an 860bhp monster, custom built by Subaru Motorsports and Hoonigan, and driven by American Travis Pastrana.
It’s a totally crazy, ducking, diving, morphing, snorting machine, with active aero that made it look positively alive as it charged up the hill. The only thing missing was flames coming out of its nose. It had these massively flared wheel arches that conceal aero flaps that deploy at each corner every time the driver hits the brakes.
I couldn’t tell if they were there for drama or downforce, but they certainly seemed to do the trick. It’s a completely wild machine that perfectly encapsulates this incredible festival, which celebrates ingenuity and engineering for the purposes of advancement, speed and entertainment. All great ideals in my book…
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