Thursday 21st March 2013


GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: PH BLOG

Behind the scenes at Goodwood's media day and a run up a hill in BMW's lovely M3 CSL


In its 20 years the Goodwood Festival of Speed has evolved into a highly significant global event and an increasingly slick and corporate affair. But it's nice to know that behind the gloss at core it remains a slightly nerdy gathering for car geeks of all persuasions.

Transport to Goodwood chosen accordingly
Transport to Goodwood chosen accordingly
All? OK, well-heeled ones. Where else would you, for instance, be directed to your car park and find, dumped in the corner amid regular road cars, trucks and transporters, a Ferrari 250 LM?

911-owning pal Ben - PH designated driver for the day - discovered the true meaning of Trent o'clock but kindly provided suitable transport for heading down to Lord March's gaff for a day celebrating 50 years of Porsche's signature model. Or a preview of a day celebrating 50 years of 911, the sculpture that'll be on the lawn outside Goodwood House in July still being under wraps, and in its place, a line-up of 911s and other significant cars from a suitably broad spectrum of motorsport.

The 911's 50th isn't the only birthday being celebrated this year, of course, so having dumped Ben's 997 in the car park with the 250 LM we shamelessly took advantage of BMW's offer of a drive in its M3 CSL. Hard to believe this car is celebrating its 10th birthday this year but who's to refuse an excuse to rag it up the hill past Lord March's house?

911 abandoned for the run up the hill though...
911 abandoned for the run up the hill though...
A drive up the hill on media day is a little more restricted than on Festival day itself, official instructions being to back off after Molecomb (the tricky left hander past the paddock) and trundle the rest of the way. Adherence to the nominal 40mph limit beyond this point was interpreted broadly, some slowing to the allotted speed by simply lighting up their rear tyres. Special mention in this category must go to the magnificent Tom Walkinshaw XJS V12 which, despite steamroller-width rear slicks, appeared to have no problem whatsoever breaking traction at every given opportunity. Thumbs up from the marshals on the way down indicated this was Probably OK.

It's a strange experience too, with classic 'hurry up and wait' bursts of frantic activity interspersed with lots of standing around. But when the latter involves waiting in a queue of traffic stuck behind Derek Bell in a Bentley or a McLaren 12C GT3 and stunned at the cars coming the other way to join the queue it's no hardship. Yes, that's Liam Doran in a Monster-liveried Rallycross Citroen, followed by a 1902 Renault with two Batmobile CSLs up ahead and a Silk Cut Jaguar XJR8 approaching. Madness. Wonderful, noisy, slightly chaotic madness.

Traffic is always a nightmare at Goodwood...
Traffic is always a nightmare at Goodwood...
After a sighting run in a Mini JCW Works GP Ben returned slightly wide-eyed ("So sideways ... on the grass ... didn't slow down for the corners ...") from another beside Lotus chassis man Matt Becker in an Evora ready for our go in the CSL. Stationary in the queue he said the pared back interior reminded him of his old base spec E46 320d. And, once under way, that's where the similarity ended. I'm basically your worst nightmare as a passenger, sneakily turning everything off/up to 11 at the first opportunity, banging the dashboard, shouting "keep it nailed ... don't you dare shift up ... faster, FASTER!" as Ben wisely did his best to ignore me and concentrate on keeping the CSL pointing forwards and not having a very, very expensive excursion onto Lord March's lawn, packed as it was with priceless exotica. And that's no hyperbole either; the ex-Moss 250 SWB's recent sale for a reported 7m was small beer against the literally 'money couldn't buy' Mercedes 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe.

No shortage of tasty motors on the lawn
No shortage of tasty motors on the lawn
At the top of the hill it was a totally different world, rally drivers mixing with hill climbers in the queue for the bacon sarnie van and a much more egalitarian spirit than the glitz and glamour of Lord March's lawn.

Amid all this we got a flavour for what Goodwood has to offer for the coming year, including the aforementioned Porsche-themed Festival of Speed. With standalone races for the GT40 to celebrate 50 years since development began and a significant gathering of 250 LMs for a similar anniversary (no need to abandon them in the car park for this one) the Revival looks as appealing as ever. News that, amid the four-wheeled fun, there'll also be a celebration of 100 years of the Tour de France with retro-clothed and -equipped riders lapping the Goodwood track amid a suitable period support cavalcade of Citroen H vans has literally got Garlick trembling in his tweeds in anticipation too.

Business as usual at Goodwood then. But since when has that been a reason to complain.

Dan













Author: Dan Trent
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