Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012 – Photo Diary

After the lengthy delays getting in on Saturday, the first thing I did was go to the sculpture outside the House to see if I could catch anyone still there for the planned meetup. This year’s focus was Lotus and the sculpture was another variation of the now-traditional ‘hanging nearly-priceless racing cars at crazy angles’.

Disclaimer – I must’ve used the wrong setting on my camera because the colour seems to have washed out.

This Year’s Sculpture in Honour of Lotus

It just so happened the sculpture was roped off to put some cars around it, so the mass of people which usually gathers at 1pm to enjoy lunch on the lawn was disrupted, as was our gathering. I did find them fairly easily though. Of course just then Stirling Moss appeared and I rushed off straight away to try and get a photo!

It was difficult but I got a couple of shots albeit obscured by heads, but it was good to see him even though at times he had to be supported by his wife as he walked. He got in a car though! John Surtees and Lord March were also nearby. I stood to watch the cars depart, preferring to enjoy them rather than try and take a photo among the throng, then returned to the group for a chat. It was quickly decided to have some lunch at the new RAC stage the other side of the F1 paddock.

The RAC Stage is a great idea. In past years the area above the main paddock was largely empty with just a few team trucks parked up. After last year (or 2010?) creating a second exit to the Drivers’ Club which emerged in the vicinity, this year they moved the media centre up there and put an interview stage alongside it, complete with raised seating creating a little arena or square.

This was far, far better than having to traipse all the way across to the courtyard near the Supercars if you wanted to hear an interview! I really do hope this arrangement is retained for future years. When we arrived the main screen was playing live video and commentary from the hill. After a little while someone appeared and was introduced as BSB rider Tommy Hill.

Tommy Hill and Louise Goodman

Drivers can leave the private area via the side exit, work the autograph line (which was much longer than last year’s), then pop over to the adjacent stage and media centre. It is a much more fan-friendly way of doing it. The old entrance/exit still exists complete with autograph line, so you if you plan to collar a driver you have to think where they’re likely to be!

It was just Tommy Hill’s luck that his namesake Damon appeared through the wall, followed just a few minutes later by Sebastian Vettel. Cue the crowds, cue me and a couple of others rushing over! Of course with so many people around it was difficult to get a clear photo, I do have a clearer one of Damon but I prefer the fan interaction of this one.

Damon Hill
Sebastian Vettel

It’s great being able to get near to the heroes of racing, especially those from F1 who are usually roped off in the paddock with no access allowed to us plebs. Sadly this does also mean they get mobbed at Goodwood! To their great credit both Hill and Vettel spent a long time working this line of autograph and photo hunters.

When these guys disappeared I felt I’d hung around long enough, it was nice to have a de-stress after the traffic problems but now I was keen to explore the paddock for an hour before the F1 cars appeared on track.

While the current F1 stars get roped off garage areas, everwhere else is a little more accessible. Derek Bell and Andre Lotterer were hanging around the paddock – Bell seemed to be there quite a lot!


I always love the mix of historic cars and modern classics. This is just a small selection.

A nice feature was the small collection of F1 six-wheelers, from the famous Tyrrell to the less famous Williams and March.


We headed trackside – or tried to. The place was absolutely packed out as the RAF Tornado display was taking place, as it was to be immediately followed by the batch on the hill featuring the modern F1 cars (usually cars from a season or two ago – current enough to be representative).

A word here for the Tornado pilots who crashed in Scotland this week. I believe the pilots from the Goodwood display were also based at RAF Lossiemouth. Thoughts remain with them and their families.

With the main viewing area beyond the paddock full of people we went further up, to the clearing on the inside of the exit of Molecombe corner. A good place to see vehicles up close (you’d struggle to get closer), however the entry was obscured so cars and bikes appeared almost from nowhere, and sadly the protective bales blocked the view a bit. F1 cars are so low they were half hidden. Still, it was good to see them.

Brendan Hartley, Mercedes GP

Gordon Shedden, John Surtees, burnouts!

I’ve never understood why F1 cars run in the same batch as the legends of motorbike racing. Bikes have their place at the Festival and it is great to see them, but they should surely run in their own segment while the modern F1 cars run with some more classic F1 cars. You’re trying to cater to two types of fan here – F1 fans aren’t always into bikes, and bike fans aren’t always into F1. Right now the bikers lose out because the F1 fans clog up the hill, and the F1 fans are sitting around waiting for ages for their cars to appear.

One of my favourite things to do is get back to the paddock in time for the F1 cars to reappear. It is very busy but if you time it right you can get a good spot. This year we didn’t quite get it right as we were shuffled around left to right, and we all got split up. They headed to McLaren to find Jenson Button, I went to the opposite end to see Vettel (since Button is more likely to come back next year). I also thought Heidfeld would be at that end, forgetting he was in a McLaren not a Lotus/Renault.

Sebastian Vettel

Brendan Hartley, Marc Gene, fans flocking to Vettel

After that it was a visit to the bottom end of the site for a look at the Cathedral Paddock featuring more old racers and the Supercars which were forming up ready for a run up the hill.

We stopped at the link road to watch some old cars go out. Suddenly from the other direction a 1960s Brabham approaches. I looked at the driver. It was Jackie Stewart! In a Brabham! Now I was impressed. Naturally we had to head to the paddock to find him!

Along the way we stopped briefly to see Lord March being interviewed by Tim Harvey, but with JYS around we didn’t we didn’t stay – and it was perfect timing as just as we reached the access path for the paddock, striding out purposefully comes Jackie Stewart himself! At this point I’d love to say the four of us were all smart and witty and chatty and got his autograph and a series of photos. What all four of us actually did was stop and stare because it was Jackie Stewart. Four starstruck fans. He gave us the briefest of looks then strode away to a waiting vehicle. Moment lost. Camera fumbled. Here’s a photo of the man’s back, you’ll just have to trust me. Andy Wallace followed him out, Karun Chandhok too but I missed him.

We’d hoped to spy some more famous people in the Supercar Run. As it was I only saw Rupert Grint (from Harry Potter) lining up for a McLaren ride, and Oliver Webb (British driver in Indy Lights). Lacking more famous people I realised it would be good to see these cars moving, so we headed to the exit lane to watch there. As happened earlier the previous batch of cars (that we saw leave here a bit ago) drove back in whilst the supercars were leaving.

We were treated to 1910s-1970s race cars passing yet-to-be-released 21st Century automotive luxury. Only at Goodwood!

Past and Future

These were the last cars of the day. After a quick stop at the exit of the Drivers’ Club to try and see people it was time to go, another day at Goodwood Festival of Speed was over, and for me that was it for another year.

After the trials and tribulations of the morning (read more here) I was glad to have an enjoyable afternoon. It didn’t completely cure me of the blues but it went some way towards it, and I was pleased to get so much done in the shortened space of time, and to do so with good company.

Will I be back next year? I’d like to think so – but perhaps not on the busiest day of the weekend. I think Saturdays are off-limits now. I will happily try the Friday or Sunday again until such time as they also become oversubscribed.

You can see my full album of photos here.


Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012 – A Festival of Stopped

I attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Saturday, sadly before I can talk about the sights and sounds of a good afternoon I have to first go into the reasons why it was just an afternoon, and why it was only ‘good’ and not the usual ‘amazing’. The morning was an unmitigated disaster and it needs to be addressed.


Never have I been stuck in a traffic jam as long-lasting as this one, at Goodwood or anywhere else. This was on a par with all those stories you used to hear from the British GP. Okay so there was that time on the M25, but I got off that pretty quickly..

I left the house at about 8.45am. Not especially early but not too late since Chichester is 1hr 45min from here, and the Festival is open until 7pm anyway. I had planned to get away between 8 and 8.15 but I’d stayed up way too late.. no matter, I’d be in the gate by 11am anyway and I’d still get a solid 8 hours on site. Right? Er, wrong.

Having attended every year since 2009 as well as two earlier events I knew the routine: Arrive at Chichester somewhere between 10.15 and 10.45am, sit in traffic for half an hour before parking up and hustling the long walk to the gate overtaking dawdlers ambling along. This is what I’d prepared for.

What I had not prepared for was a wait of two and a half hours before reaching the car park. An extra two hours above the norm. The event was a sellout that day – okay fine, I could’ve put up with maybe an hour for that. I just can’t understand why it took so much longer.

I realised at best I was covering a mile every ten minutes, sometimes it took much longer. I’m stubborn enough that for £55 I’m damned well going to try to get there but I was close to giving up – after all the race cars do two runs per day on the hill and I had already missed the entire first run. It was disappointing but not surprising to learn of others who did decide to turn back.

I have no idea if there were other problems on the local roads, perhaps there were accidents and road closures for which you couldn’t blame the Festival. However I only saw one minor closure and no accidents or blockages. It leads me to strongly believe it was down to the event management.

Perhaps there was a problem with the main car park, when I eventually got there  it was closed, so it was either full or something had happened there. I had to spend an extra 10-15 minutes being directed along some lanes to another car park – the saving grace being that the walk to the House was much shorter from this place – maybe if I drive again I’ll take some back roads and go to this car park!

Really though, the lesson is that their traffic management can’t be trusted, get one of the frequent trains to Chichester and make use of the free shuttle bus. Thankfully this is an option at this event, unlike Silverstone for the British GP which I have always avoided partly due to the widely reported horrendous traffic levels. Perhaps the other lesson is to go on the quiet Friday until that becomes as popular.

Calming Down

I eventually got in and met up with friends, saw some great cars and drivers – all the good stuff the Festival has to offer. Tomorrow I’ll follow up with a a post about the afternoon in which I’ll include some photos. It was a bit of a rush to get around the paddocks and still find time to see some cars on the hill. And as I said, it was a sellout – sadly there were so many people you could hardly find a space trackside and you had to elbow your way around to see the static cars.

The traffic and the volume of people spoiled the day for me. I ended up missing the entire first run of cars (including F1) which is stupid if you’re only going for one day. Then when we went trackside the only available place was a quiet little clearing where the bales obscured most of the cars.

Goodwood: please restrict the numbers and sort out your traffic management.

I consoled myself with a tiny little sausage in a soft bread roll which fell apart when you tried to eat it, which cost £5.70. Apparently the words ‘Goodwood’ and ‘Organic’ give you the right to charge an extra £1 each.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011

I spent two days at this year’s Festival of Speed and it was fantastic, this was my 5th visit but the first time I’d attended two days of the meeting (Friday and Saturday).  The extra driving, the red arms and face, and the still-aching feet from two days of almost non-stop walking, they were all very much worth it.

It is strange how perceptions change over time. I was always more into the cars and even at Goodwood always thought the drivers were far-off and hidden away. Not this year. I don’t know if it is because the drivers now emerge in the paddock from a new entrance, or if it was because I’ve seen some of the cars a few times now, or if it was because I was with people who have always been more driver-focussed. This year the personalities seemed a lot more interesting to me.

It was of course excellent to hear Formula 1 engines once more, both modern and historic. McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, Lotus, Mercedes brought recent machinery to the event and ran them on the hill, whilst Williams had a static car. There were also classic cars from Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus and many more.

It was Vitaly Petrov’s first time at the Festival and he seemed to really get into the spirit of it, doing burnouts on the hill and being friendly with fans as he walked through the paddock. Mark Webber was doing a good job too on Friday, happily posing for photos and signing away.

Vitaly Petrov at Goodwood    Mark Webber

I also love seeing the big smiles writ large across the faces of the legends of the sport.

Réne Arnoux in the Renault RS01 of 1977

I was pleased to see the Audi R18 sweeping silently by, driven by 2011 Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer. There was also an R15 making runs on the hill with Marco Werner at the wheel. Peugeot sent their 905 but not a 908 in the paddocks, though there was a hybrid in the manufacturer strutures in the ‘infield’. Several classic sportscars were also present including Alfa Romeos – with Arturo Merzario – Jaguars, even a couple of Chaparrals.

There was also representation from WRC, IRC, BTCC and a variety of motorcycles. Ken Block was fantastic on the hill! Kris Meeke and Guy Wilks put on a show with sideways action, Block took it even further with lurid slides and donuts!

A big attraction for me this year was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. I’m as much a fan of Indy racing as I am of F1, so to see so many drivers and cars make the effort to come over was very special. What people don’t appreciate is that most of these people don’t ever make public appearances in the UK, even the British drivers, and only a handful of cars only usually make the trip. Johnny Rutherford being the notable exception, he’s been attending Festivals since 1999.

I believe this was the first time a contemporary IndyCar of any flavour (CART, IRL, current) has run at the Festival since it began – and maybe even the first in the country since the CART/ChampCar visits of 2001-2003 – so for me this was very exciting. But not half as exciting as seeing actual current IZOD IndyCar Series drivers come over here to drive them!

“I love it here. Invite me back!”
– Johnny Rutherford, 3-time Indy 500 winner

Goodwood regular Johnny Rutherford was joined by fellow legends Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr, Parnelli Jones, Dan Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, Kenny Brack and Gil de Ferran, as well as current drivers Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon – no current drivers are usually present as Goodwood frequently falls on a race weekend, but not this year (with due apologies to Watkins Glen). F1 and Indy legend Emerson Fittipaldi was present in his Indycar capacity to drive a Penske.

Dario Franchitti was a legend with the fans, as he is famous for being. My friend Kai isa big fan and after missing him Friday, made a vow to track him down on Saturday. We made a plan to watch the IndyCars return to the main paddock (though we didn’t think he was driving one), and right on cue a Lotus pulled up.. we tried to identify the driver.. and it was Dario! He’d stalled it waiting for marshals to signal him to move on, then got out and pushed the car. Here is the moment Kai runs off to chase him (she’s the one saying “I’m going”).

And.. here’s the result:

Not only that but when asked for a photo he said ‘one minute’ and turned away to consult his aide, who was trying to tell him where he had to be next. He went and had a photo with someone else and we thought he was gone.. next thing there’s a tap on Kai’s shoulder and it is Dario asking “did you want a photo?”. Well.. duh! Didn’t have to do it but still made our day.

On Friday I spotted Helio Castroneves in the crowd and he stopped for a photo with Kai. On Saturday she returned the favour, spotting Helio a mile away and running after him, I gave chase and I got my own photo with an Indy 500 winner!

How cool is that?!

So that was that, I thoroughly recommend attending the Festival of Speed especially with like-minded souls, the more pairs of eyes the better for spotting people or splitting into groups to track them down! It is all about being sure to be in the right place at the right time.

Do check out my photo galleries for more, there are some interesting nuggets in there even if I’m not a great photographer and I only have a budget point-and-shoot camera. There are videos in the galleries but as they aren’t easy to distinguish you may prefer to look at them on YouTube.

Friday / Saturday / YouTube

I’ll leave you with these videos. A lot of TV coverage of the Festival is professionally made and as a result is very well-polished, so much so that I always feel it doesn’t get across what it is ACTUALLY LIKE to walk around in the paddock. Well.. it is like this. Enjoy.

You just don’t know where to turn next. Famous person there, famous car there, engine suddenly bursts into life in front of you.. Why yes.. that is Adrian Newey about to get into a March Indycar he designed in the 80s… And Bobby Rahal about to get into a 1931 diesel car.. And Dan Wheldon hanging around the Target Chip Ganassi car which genuinely is the one scheduled to be raced by Scott Dixon at Edmonton in a few weeks.

Any complaints? Too many people on Saturday, it felt uncomfortably overcapacity in places. Track commentary needed to stop talking about cars waiting at the start and tell us what was in front of us.  It was very hot at times, I didn’t drink enough fluids and didn’t realise how much it took it out of me until Sunday when I was at home resting! And my feet are killing me still despite wearing walking shoes!
Was it worth it? Oh yes. Absolutely. If you’ve never been, you need to go. Add it to your bucket list. Kai is from the US and had never been to an F1 race or an IndyCar race I think, yet here there were stars and cars from both.

Just go.

Goodwood 2010: Wrap-Up

In this final instalment of my Goodwood round-up I’m going to cover some of the trackside action as well as some of the ‘names’ I bumped into over the day. I particularly like the video at the end.

There are several ways to do Goodwood. The organisers want you to spend a weekend ambling around in a relaxed ‘garden party’ atmosphere. This is very appealing and you can do that if you ‘re only there for a single day as I was but you would miss out on a lot, so I was moving quickly all day darting from place to place and revisiting areas based on the programme of events. Even so, I didn’t make it far up the hill and so missed the dedicated rally section completely.

I arrived at the site at about 11am, watched for a while near the entrance before heading to the Cathedral Paddock and the F1 Paddock.

I exited the paddock on the far side, going uphill, to see what was there. The answer: not much. A couple of WRC and GT trucks and the McLaren and (deafening) Red Bull Racing merchandise stands, both over-priced as always. I knew the modern F1 cars were not far off running again so they’d be in the paddock collecting area soon, so I headed there.
Continue reading “Goodwood 2010: Wrap-Up”