WEST SUSSEX, United Kingdom - A little over a year ago as I was streaming the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016 from home, it dawned on me that after years of traveling to Europe, I have not been on a father-son vacation in years. What better place to go with your father than to one of the most revered automotive events in the world? My dad, after watching 90 seconds of the shoot-out, smiled and asked, “How much would the trip cost?” Fast forward 11 months and three weeks, the myriad of travel web sites, heavy bragging and the occasional “Is it June yet?” and the time had finally arrived.
As we made our way to the small English town of Chichester, we were greeted with great fanfare. Buses and directional signage filled the area surrounding the train station, as car enthusiasts from all over the world scrambled to figure out the easiest commute to the festival grounds in West Sussex. Most opted to take the bus route in, which was filled with light chatter and talk of what to expect and what cars everyone was excited to see. As we inched our way closer to the festival grounds at the Goodwood House, we could hear the cars as they made their way up the fabled hill climb. Excitement drew and the light chatter quickly turned to heavy excitement.
After disembarking from the buses, we expected a long muddy walk, but were instead greeted by dozens of festival volunteers in distinct, grey lab coats with the “Goodwood” emblem embroidered on their left pocket. A quick scan of our QR code and we were in – no waiting, no long lines, no hassles. We followed the sounds of backfiring and downshifting through a vast sea of food-and-beverage vendors, an action-sports area and several display areas before reaching the starting line. Even though in my opinion the starting line provided the best viewing area, it was also the most scarcely attended area. Most fans had made their way to the grandstands at the first straightaway after the first and second turns, where the cars are able to achieve their maximum speed.
While moving back and forth between the starting line to the main straightaway it was evident that, depending on what car grouping was currently driving, both locations had their pros and cons. For instance, the starting line was the best location to hear the raw power of the vehicles as they took off, not to mention for a great view with limited spectators in the way. But the straightaway did offer the best view of the Central Display and the television screen plus to hear the roar of the crowd.
Each day provided something new and interesting to experience. Whether it was a new car display or the Royal Force’s Red Arrows, the festival was full of non-stop action. Seeing the Ford display area offered up a sense of pride. Being in the backyard of high performance vehicles such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, it was very meaningful seeing the amount of Ford supporters – both young and old – and the Ford cars beautifully displayed. Of all the different vehicle displays, Ford was easily the most well-represented and attended. This was also evident on the track itself, as Vaughn Gittin Jr. ripped his way up the hill climb to much fanfare, along with the sleek and highly loved Ford GT.
Every car enthusiast should experience the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The sheer amount of engine power and beauty that these cars possess is quite amazing. The festival grounds, which are beyond beautiful, were always clean and attended by a member of the event staff. Not once did we ever have an issue with seating or any other accommodations. As my father said to me hundreds if not thousands of times, “This is a trip of a lifetime!”
While I had passed over that thought various times during our time together at Goodwood, as I write this, I now realize how true his words are!
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY FORD OF EUROPE