Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011

Once a year, classic racecars descend upon the West Sussex countryside for the exhilarating Goodwood Festival of Speed. Chloe Collyer visited to find out why people return year after year to this iconic event.

What a way to spend a Sunday! In the glorious sunshine, I experience my first Goodwood Festival of Speed where, once a year, the usually peaceful countryside of West Sussex is rocked by the sound of racecars old and new tearing up the infamous hill climb.

The excitement starts while I am still queuing for the car park, as Aston Martin after Aston Martin shoots past me. As I enter the ground I see a 28-metre sculpture of a Jaguar E-type soaring above the trees in front of Goodwood House, the work of artist Gerry Judah to mark the festival’s 50th anniversary. Using the sculpture as my guide, I happily stumble across a champagne tent for some lunch, and find myself a spot at the side of the track in preparation to see famous drivers – including Lewis Hamilton -roaring past.

It’s not only about the cars. The only remaining flying Vulcan bomber circles low overhead before pulling up vertically, becoming the only machine capable of drowning out the roar of the racecar engines.

After wandering around the old cars in the Cartier enclosure, and spotting Chris Evans’s collection of Ferraris, I cross the track to try out a few cars for size myself (sitting in rather than driving them, sadly). Feeling quite exhausted after all this entertainment, I move on to the Audi pitch halfway up the hill, where Audi owners are treated to refreshments and some very British strawberries. As I listen to Brian May playing live from the main house, I realise there is so much to take in here, I’m barely off the start line.

Report & images by Chloe Collyer