You are definitely going to need three days to do it all justice. So book a long weekend and come and join us at Goodwood.
The scope and size of the event and the generosity of the Duke of Richmond cannot be overstated. The festival is a grand celebration of motorsport, from its crude and rudimentary beginnings to advanced future concepts and celebrates its rich and varied history from all over the world. There is so much to see and experience.
The main event is, of course, the Hillclimb. The headline timed shootout is tense, exciting, loud and seriously fast.
But spare a thought for all of the other vehicles making their way up the hill. The oldtimers, motorcycles, prototypes and brand-new launches. Mixed into that there are the old racing cars, Nascar, Formula One, trophy trucks, single seaters, 4x4s, rally cars from every decade and so much more…
On entry to the grounds, you can have a look at all the vehicles lined up for the start point at the bottom of the hill. This is a good place to pass a few hours (with earplugs in). Then hop over to the other side and visit the supercar section where the newest Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Astons and Porsches are displayed. Maybe even a helicopter or two, and you can get up close to examine them in detail.
You can also find dozens of vendors in this area, selling all manner of merchandise from T-shirts to posters and badges and little models and stickers. And all makes and models are represented here so be sure to get yourself a souvenir.
The Main House
This is the manor. The big meeting place for Lord March and his guests. Famous former motorsport legends wave to the crowds from the balcony or share amusing sporting anecdotes. If you’re lucky and time it right you may even get a glass of champagne…
Across from the Hillclimb circuit are the big tribunes, the large exhibition buildings by the different manufacturers displaying the latest launch or their exotic models. In between these buildings (and they are each, individually rather large) are the future prototypes and ideas for future transport like electric, self-driving drones and delivery vehicles. On the lawn, there was a lovely exhibit of the history of Bentley.
More fields are filled with presentations and themed displays. Take a ride in a drift car or on the Land Rover Experience track.
This is, arguably, one of my favourite areas. All of the vehicles that go up the Hillclimb course, whether classic sportscars or Le Man’s winners and every sector of motorsport you can think of. The cars can be approached and looked over from a couple of millimetres – if that’s what you want.
But the drivers are right there as well. And very approachable and willing to share their stories. It is all very amenable and friendly. Where else can you take a tour through the pitlane right before the driver jumps into his car and blasts up the hill? And let’s not forget the motorbikes as well.
Next to the pitlane is another private area where (if you have an entry pass) you can spend some time in the upper deck area rubbing shoulders with the royalty of motorsport. People like Formula One drivers or owners of supercar brands like Pagani. It’s an exclusive area but accessible if you’re into that sort of thing.
Heading further up the hill we pass yet more exhibits and displays. The Porsche Arena with some very cool hardware and a large muddy arena in which you can pilot a drifty Cayenne. Jeep is next door and offers similar muddy pursuits.
The offroad arena is where the offroad racers show off their capabilities. Rally Raid and extreme offroad 4×4 trucks. There’s a little grandstand from which to see them perform jumps and powerslide through the dirt and mud.
This is also where the flint wall is on the Hillclimb. It is quite imposing in its presence and being in the semi-shade must make for quite a challenge when flat out and having to jink right-left before flooring it again on the final part of the hill.
In the forests (this is a very big estate) you can hear the snarl of an Audi 5 cylinder or the rasp of a 1600 at full chat. This means Quattro and Escort have every last rev wrung out of them by spirited drivers and the navigators are hanging on for dear life through the forest stage.
A persistent, very English drizzle just adds to the mood and many an umbrella is raised and chilly shrugs made into a hooded coat. This is also where you find the finish line of the Hillclimb.
Or not so much the finish line as seen on TV where the cars are still coming through the haybales at full chat, but rather the assembly area for the vehicles to go back down the hill. Also a place to have a close look at the exotic metal on display, drivers milling about checking the big screen to see who’s coming next up the hill. A silent electric car or an impossibly loud V8 CanAm? Maybe that little blue Bugatti or an Integrale rally car? That lovely old Brough Superior oozing 1930s British charm or perhaps the large and loud Dakar truck powering its way through the slick rain?
It’s so broad and so eclectic. It’s almost too much to take in, too much to see. Whether you’re into a bright purple Lamborghini, a Silver Arrow classic racer, Triumph Bonneville, Petter Solberg’s Polo WRX, the electric revolution or that thing of beauty that is the ‘Beast of Turin’. It’s all here.
This is the finest celebration of automotive history and a celebration of the sport that has no equal. It is all very well to read about it or watch a video, but you really need to come here and experience it all in person. The noise, the speed, the smell of oil and tyre smoke, the passion…