Observations from this year's Festival Of Speed? There are almost too many to digest. The Festival lasts three days, but you need a year to take it all in. But then, thankfully, that just means it's time for another one…
There is just so much on the site, from the focal point of Goodwood House and Gerry Judah's impressive Audi-themed sculpture through the main paddock, the car manufacturers field, the sellers' tents, the rally stage… This is an event where you never feel like you're not getting value for money. Audi took centre stage, both on the sculpture and around the site, and reminded you just the length of breadth of their road and racing involvement.
Despite the crowds, there always seems to be an aura of good humour around the site, even in the main paddock where the fans, cars, drivers and crew are intermingled. As in the rally paddock, whistles blow, marshals call out and the huge crowd magically part as another racing classic makes it way into the hillclimb preparation area. It's very different to a lot of race meetings at regular circuits I've been to, where you get the feeling that the crowds are on the grid because they're exploiting freebies, not because they care about where they are or what they're seeing. And it's completely opposite to the insane secrecy that normally surrounds F1 meetings. At Goodwood, there's passion around ever corner.
Each enclave provides its own interest and diversion, and it's easy to lose time just gawping as yet another batch of famous, amazing looking and usually phenomenally expensive car is wheeled past. I probably spent half an hour under each of the six main paddock awnings – ostensibly looking for shots but in reality just standing there admiring the lines of cars.
The main paddock is where it all happens. The stands and displays get denser as you go down the hill, through the rows of food vans, past the merchandise stalls and WRC motion platform rally simulator and into the heart of the Festival.
Wandering down, next up are the team displays: Citroen and Peugeot rally team set-ups, McLaren's impressive F1 stand and various other displays. Then you're into the utter chaos of Formula One Alley.
It seems almost impenetrable at first. Defended by an outer line of team trucks, there's a whole line of marquees up against their respective teams' articulated trucks: every team from the current F1 championship represented, swarming with fans. Although, because of the crazy rules that would count Goodwood as testing hardly any current cars are on display or preparing for runs up the hill – only Brawn have a static display of the (in my opinion…) insanely ugly 2009 F1 cars. So maybe no bad thing!
Williams Grand Prix took pride of place with a whole row of awnings to themselves for a dozen examples of their F1 cars, being a category of the Festival in their own right. This celebrated their 40th anniversary: one of many recognised by the Festival this year. Here Williams mechanics prepare a recent F1 machine, with a classic '96 Williams-Renault FW18 in the background. This picture was taken just as a Eurofighter Typhoon jet was making very low and loud passes above the Festival site. Everyone was looking up when they could.
Another anniversary was 40 years of the Porsche 917. A whole line of the paddock was dedicated to these amazingly fast, terrifyingly delicate racers. Contemporary drivers were dotted around, a who's who of classic sportscar pilots. John Brooks has already posted up some great shots of the cars in action, but they were just as beautiful standing still, lined up in the paddock.
This is the interior of the 'street legal' 917 created for Count Rossi. Tan leather, two seats, wooden shift lever… Where's the stereo? Still not exactly the most luxurious ride you'll find. Likely one of the most expensive though. If it was me, I'd wear the race helmet all the time. Although it was on slicks here, as it was being pushed through the staging area you could very clearly see the treaded spare wheel that they'd someone managed to cram above the rear exhausts! Do they include a jack and tyre lever as well in there somewhere?…
More Audi weapons: from Trans Am through tourers to rally and fearsome hillclimb machinery.
A view of the engine and exhausts of the Porsche 917/10K, described in a book on Can Am that I own as a 'total weapons system'.
Just below the paddock is the assembly area for the hillclimb – it's about half way up, so they join the track, drive the wrong way to the start and then are drawn up into their starting order. This shot is from just before the Saturday lunchtime run of endurance sportscars. A full clutch of Audis, from the R8R through the R8 (including the one-off Race Of A Thousand Years 'crocodile' livery from 2000), R10 and R15 was complemented by Bentley, BMW, Porsches and this 1990 Sauber-Mercedes. If I had to drive it, I think I'd be feeling worried as well.
Sometimes you have to see someone in real life to understand why they're so iconic. Peter Fonda can obviously still turn on the rebel sneer, and he still looked like he meant business on the Easy Rider chopper.
It's funny that I've only really 'got' classics in the last few years, particularly after a visit to the Donington Grand Prix museum, but also since my last visit to Brooklands. I'm now understanding racing machines better, and appreciating their lines and purity. These old German machines were stunning: the build quality, attention to detail and even the fit of the panels would put a lot of modern manufacturers to shame.
This is the classic Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner, built in 1954. It had interchangeable body panels, surprisingly then allowed by the rules: a more recognisably 'Formula One' style body shape with open wheels or this svelte, sweeping full-width body kit that was used on the fast circuits like Monza and Reims. It was virtually unbeatable.
Here's British legend Stirling Moss in the alternate W196 open wheel body kit. Always a crowd favourite, he's instantly recognisable with his white helmet (an original design that he's allowed to use by special FIA dispensation) and straight-arm style.
Auto Union, part of the group that eventually led to the current Audi brand, campaigned this Type D in 1938. 420bhp. Supercharged 3-litre V12. Not bad for 70 years ago is it?
One of the largest stand-alone displays was taken up by the Prodrive brand and served as a reminder of their rich heritage across all forms of motorsport. It was headed up the by the Lola Aston Martin LMP1 prototype fresh from finishing fourth at Le Mans this year. The similarly-liveried DBRS9 sat by its side, along with a bright red Ferrari 550, representing their sportscar successes over recent years.
Prodrive are best known for their rally history: taking Subaru to the top of the WRC was preceded by outing with the Porsche 911 SCRS and BMW M3 tarmac rally specials from the '80s.
Along with Martini, JPS and Marlboro, Rothmans is another livery that always looks great. Cigarettes and alcohol? Well, you've got to live dangerously I suppose. I was impressed with just how the 3-litre V6 was somehow squeezed into the back of the MG Metro 6R4. Check the position of the rear suspension upright mountings!
Prodrive have also had several forays into touring cars, represented at Goodwod with the Honda Accord from 1998 and the utterly dominant 2000 Ford Mondeo Super Tourers.
If I'd had the time I would have definitely lined up for a passenger ride in the Bowler Nemesis off-roader. Loosely based on a Land Rover, a couple of these monsters were tearing around an arena dug into the hill on the way up to the Forest Rally Stage. Bedouin-style tents and even sand on the floor completed the Dakar-a-like style!
A big jump and sickeningly hard landing on the return leg was followed by a blast down to a sunken banked turn and the finish. Every passenger got out looking just a little bit queasy…
Across the road from the paddock was the vast car manufacturers and market area. All the big brands were there, making use of their racing heritage where possible. Audi's stand was the size of a small country. The Toyota stand featured Group C (TS010 from 1993), Group 7/Can Am (the pictured swooping Toyota 7 model) and F1 cars.
Mercedes had an aircraft-hangar size showroom right next to the start of the hillclimb, packed with every current model, F1 cars, the F1 safety car… and the amazing SLR Stirling Moss.
Nissan went for a more street style approach showing off the GT-R and 370Z.
And then there was the Alfa Romeo red box of beauty. All of their current line-up was on show inside, all decked out in the deep 8c custom pearlescent red except for this 8c Spider. If I had the money…
As usual the unsung heroes were the marshals: hundreds worked the weekend to keep crowd and competitors alike safe.
So, another Festival Of Speed over: a bit of sunburn, chalk all over the cameras… but plenty of great memories. We'll be back to Goodwood in September for the Revival festival!