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The Goodwood Festival of Speed is the pinnacle of automotive events

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The Goodwill Festival of Speed, held this past June 27th through the 29th, is best described as a Concours D’elegance worthy collection, an airshow, an international car show, a rally race, an exotic car show, a racing motorcycle show and demonstration, a hot rod show, a motocross exhibition, an off road driving experience centered on a hill climb time trial event disguised as a huge outdoor festival and bucket list to-do deep in the English countryside.

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To properly take it all in, plan on attending all three days and bring charged back-up batteries and extra memory cards for your devices. Ideally a laptop to store it all nightly if you're appetite for speed is ravenous. If it isn't, it will be.

The Hill Climb is the central event that the rest of the show follows on either side of the track. The course is 1.6 miles long so plan on walking, a lot. Some nasty blind and off-camber turns greet really fast straights below the main house and well up into the countryside. You name it, it’s on the track, running loud and fast. Or in the case of the Rolls Royce and surprisingly the Pagani Huayra, just fast. More on the cars later.

Surprisingly the escorted return trip down the hill can be equally entertaining with burnouts or even an occasional donut and better photo opportunities. A video camera is the best bet along with easy editing and still photo capture.

Only a true fan would make the long trek to the top of the hill to see the Rally portion in the trees The drawback to the provided shade is not being able to see the military jet(s) performing their fly-bys and stunts. The course jump does provide good action provided its a with a quicker car for more air time. If you make the trek, the good part is it is a fairly short downhill walk to the last main straight with a beer booth, big screen, grandstand and great vantage points seated or in the grass. If you want to get more dusty than the rally, the off road riding experience and dirt course nearby provide fun action, including being a passenger if you pay the fee.

Further down is where everything else is gathered. In the main house courtyard was Maserati, celebrating 100 years in a display of sensual curves of carbon fiber and sex appeal. At the entrance vying for most provocative yet functional shape of the event, the commemorative images on the MC12 race car edged it over the McLaren F1 GTR long tail racer. Both had an awesome shrieking exhaust note. A V12 engine will be someday be regarded as a fine musical instrument as well as an awesome powerplant in future generations. Never mind preserving the manual, don't lose the V8, 10 and 12!

The well received Maserati Alfieri concept was the centerpiece of the display that was so good that the poles for the canopy cover were an annoyance, even if blocking a minute viewing angle. And achingly made of near-obtainium was the Gran Turismo MC with seemingly bespoke carbon fiber accents. It is perhaps the sexiest used car under $100k.

Just outside, the famous yearly sculpture appeasing the car gods raced into the sky confirming the heavenly blessing for three days of speed and sun. One could watch another big screen here or just lie in the grass and absorb the vibe of octane fueled mania.

More and larger grandstands across the track lead to multi-level auto manufacturer displays rivaling those at major auto shows. The Nissan Gran Turismo concept, a Jaguar F-Type R cutaway and the Toyota LeMans hybrid racecar were just a fraction of the standouts that could easily take hours to explore.

Taking a bridge back over the track leads to a concours worthy rare care display, small but exquisite in execution. Yet if the names Clarkson or Schmee mean anything to you, a series of tents housing the modern greats ups the ante. Two LaFerraris, a Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 sit among nearly ignored greats like the McLaren 650S, Ferrari F12, a 458 Speciale, Nissan GT-R Nismo (which later ate hay) and an obviously different sounding GT-R Nurburgring non-stock “record” car. The Pagani Hyuara also stood out but taking the most outrageous award went to the Koeneggsegg One:1 with its aerospace sculpture rear wing, extreme bodywork and carbon fiber wheels.

McLaren had a large plot with the P1 and the unveiling of the 650S GT3 has stage highlights. Also on display were the 650S and the 650S Spyder. Fittingly nearby was the race car paddock has something for everyone from historic racers, NASCAR, LeMans, F1, FIA, etc.

Further on was the largest food court with lots of benches and the motocross stunt area. The nearby vendor tent area had some superfine products, art and automotive luxuries. The world’s fastest car Bloodhound SSC had a large display as well.

A building near the starting line, that was long and non-descript but very open had smaller manufacturer displays but also some real gems. The sultry Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo was showing it’s risqué curves. Nearby another Ferrari 458 Speciale in their display sat neglected at times. The redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang GT has great lines, finally modern and sophisticated. A surprise appearance Lexus RC-Fsport coupe with a carbon fiber hood was another treat.

But the reason it is all here is the Hill Climb. Whether standing at the start for some burnouts by the F1 cars along with shrieking starts, roaring V8s and screaming V12s, it is a spectacle to behold. Historic NASCAR racers, the supercars and the outrageous modern F1, FIA GT and LeMans racers and much more displayed showing what speed is all about. All day for 3 days and is a glorious sensory overload with over 300 cars. The fly-by moments desperately caught on film due to their sheer speed and close access allowed by the hay barriers were unforgettable. The announcers and interviews were excellent, either on the PA system or by an available earpiece radio. The only complaint was when an interview was occurring the announcer would miss a particular car, so trying to get a shot of some really special super cars was particularly difficult when it would zoom by at over 100mph unannounced.

Not only were the cars spectacular, the riders and drivers included Derek Bell, Kenny Brack, Jensen Button, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dario Franchitti, Lewis Hamilton, Damon Hill, Sebastien Loeb, Kimi Raikkonen, Richard Petty, Freddie Spencer, Jackie Stewart , Al Unser Sr. and Michael Waltrip. This year the fastest time of the Hill Climb this year was 44.6 seconds set by Sebastien Leob in the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak car.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a must-see for all automotive enthusiasts and race fans around the world. Attending a car show leaves one yearning to see the cars in action as they are designed while at a race it is difficult to see them up close and personal. At Goodwood, you can do both while attending arguably the premier automotive event in the world.

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