Back when the United Kingdom was called Great Britain there was a social calendar known as The Season. The Great and the Good would reside in London, down from their country houses and estates. They would attend various social and sporting events such as Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta and Trooping the Colour. Strict dress codes and rules of behaviour applied and only the Right Crowd would be invited to many of these events. The Season died off after the First World War but the principles that it established are still with us today.
For British petrolheads the Season kicks off at Easter, usually with the opening salvo of the BTCC, no dress code involved there and precious little etiquette either. Then the RAC Tourist Trophy will be next up, bringing out the oldest award in motorsport . Le Mans 24 Hours is, of course, one the pinnacles of the Season, even though it is held in France, it can be comfortably counted as a British race, no matter what the locals think. Then comes the British Grand Prix, followed by the Silverstone Classic and to round things off the Goodwood Revival. Between Le Mans and the Grand Prix is slotted another high point of the motorsport social calendar, the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Unique must be one of the most misused words in the English Language. However even a cursory glance of the dictionary definition, existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics; having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable: leads immediately to the conclusion that it can be applied with confidence and certainty to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
There is no other event that matches the combination of action and concours, the quality of the participants and the grand location. It is simply an event that is a must do for anyone with motoring in their soul.
The 2010 edition, which passed by last weekend was no exception to this rule, nor was it, in any way, a disappointment. There was literally something for everyone. The theme for this year was "Viva Veloce" reflecting the passion and artistry that Italy has brought to the motorised world. We are all tifosi at heart or at least we should be.
From the earlist days of motorsport there was the 1905 Darracq 200HP, thrown about with almost suicidal courage by the owner, Mark Walker. His passenger must have the same imagination as a WRC navigator or a TT side car passenger, barmy.
Back right up to date the Jeff Koons' BMW Art Car blasts up the Hill.
Legends abound at every angle, Giacomo Agostini, he even sounds fast, runs on the 1969 MV Augusta 500, Agostini won the 500cc World Championship six years running on these amazing three cylinder machines.
The action is everywhere, with the Red Arrows blasting overhead on both Friday and Saturday.
The chance to get up close and personal is one of the great attractions for the spectators who are normally kept at bay by hordes of security goons and fences galore.
Of course this can be a dirty business………..
Speaking of business, dirty or otherwise, the car manufacturers flock to the lawns of Goodwood House to display their product ranges in a most agreeable setting.
Indeed the event was extended this year by having a "Moving Motor Show" day on the Thursday. This is an initiative that I fully expect to expand in the coming years as we all have to make money work harder.
As usual there was a sculpture in front of Goodwood House, this year featuring Alfa Romeo who are celebrating their centenary in 2010.
Goodwood House was not safe from the antics of Dougie Lampkin who rode his trials bike everywhere.
More two wheel tomfoolery with Mattie Griffin, who wowed the crowds with his stunts.
Much more decorum from Tony Dron in the oldest surviving Mercedes, dating back to 1902. Snapper looks a bit out of place on this machine, holder of the flying kilometer record in that year, at 69.46 mph.
A glorious failure? Perhaps a little harsh but the Broadspeed Jaguar X12C tourers never did fulfil their promise.
Always popular with the crowds are the rally cars, like the Peugeot 207 S2000 of Kris Meeke.
The crowds, yes their participation is an essential ingredient in the success of the Festival. Here they applaud one of their heroes, Jenson Button, as he rides up the Hill.
Of course things do not always go to plan, as Peter Champion discovered in his Holden VH Commodore. It got fixed up and he was out on the Hill the next day.
Without a trace of hyperbole the Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of great motoring events on the planet, put a date in the diary, July 2011, be there.
More from the haybales tomorrow.