Updated: May 9, 2016
Pray, answer me this: What is the mathematical definition of an idiot? Well, my own reply to that is as follows: It is a person who goes to the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed with a friend, right. And then, both he and his friend get to execute the legendary hill climb in two different cars, right. And this person also happens to own a GoPro camera, which he installs in both vehicles, for the sacred purpose of recording the hill climb, right. And then, he forgets to activate the camera. Twice. That's the definition, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Dedoimedo's report on his non-videoed visit to Goodwood!
Short story long, I was lucky enough to get an invite to the Festival. My friend was on Toyota's VIP list, and he was offered a chance to race uphill in a GT86, which he wholeheartedly accepted. As his chaperon, my duty was to snap stills and videos with a variety of apparati. Failing the later task, it was taking photos, and then doing a climb of my own in a Renault Clio. Go figure, so far, all my racetrack appearances ended up behind the steering wheel of a Renault. There shall be a departure from that, but that's a future article. All of the above happened last year, but that's swell, because there's gonna be a fresh new festival soon. Consider this a primer. Now, let us enjoy here be report.
Commence to drive
Excluding the lighter-than-air segments of an international journey, once in the UK, the drive to Goodwood started in the capital city of the former Empire, with roughly three hours of mild to severe traffic jams on the most overrated motorways in the world, with the added benefit of inconvenience of driving on the wrong side. Yes, paradoxically, the one country in Europe with the most enthused and keen drivers, well some of them, has the worst road infrastructure. Or maybe, exactly for that reason. Plus the fact people treat the fast lane on motorways as the preferred lane, making you almost feel like you're driving in RHD countries.
For me and me buddy, the drive took place inside an older-gen Honda Civic Type-R, with a naturally aspirated 210HP engine and six-speed manual gearbox with a very old-school racing-like lever. On the inside, the buckets are grippy if too hard, and the engine needs to be revved hard to squeeze juice. You do get slightly tired by all the hecticness and noise after a while.
We got to the venue on the first day, before the actual pro racing, and it was packed with people. Everyone and their grandmother was there, either to sip free drinks at the myriad demo booths, snack overpriced burgers, check out some really cool automotive exhibits, or maybe, like the two of us, get to do the hill climb. Very organized and very mechanic. Car after car, one driver after another, almost like a factory production lane.
Before attempting the legendary feat, we spent some time cruisin' about, spectating the vehicles on display. The repertoire was colorful, vivid, intriguing, unique, spectacular, breathtaking, chavvy, and awesome. Some of the cars were just the usual offering by this and that brand, and some were custom-tailored specimen designed to thrill and humble.
Fast and Furious
Let us explore the exhibits, shall we. Lambos, Lambos everywhere. Tons of them, each one painted in a more vibrant color than the other. While essentially they all look the same, you know that every one of them is a beast with a distinct charisma, character and its own share of lunacy. Very photogenic cars, Lamborghinis. Must be the angular alien looks. Hey, it's worked fine ever since the Countach.
Renault showcased their Alpine concept, if I'm not mistaken, in bright yellow. Close by, Toyota had their booth and a pretty decent car simulator. We humiliated some kids there with our adult driving, and there was much rejoicing. I also liked the sleek FT1 car on display there. Any car with intake fans that big at the front must mean some real serious business.
If you're into more filth, less finesse, then some mud-caked rally exhibits will definitely please you. Back from eating dust round the world, Mini AII4 Dakar looks like the car for you. With more carbon than the whole of the global warming drama and buttons than a Eurofighter cockpit, this is one of dem endurance vehicles designed to go about 150-160 km/h, all the time. Moving on, moving on.
I spent a lot of time in the VW Group booth. Their car simulator was crap, but the cars were cool. They had the new concept Passat GTE, as well as the Golf R 400, which has the raddest exhausts in the world. I wonder what this car would or will drive like, since I wasn't too impressed with the handling of the stock 300HP Golf R, and I found the Audi S3 to be more fun overall.
But probably the most spectacular car was the XL Sport concept. While you could glimpse the original XL1 road concept in my Germany & Belgium Eurotrip adventure while visiting the Classic Remise Dusseldorf car museum, this one is a pimped-up version, with a 197HP V2 Ducati motorbike engine, designed to rev to 11,000 rpm. Sounds like a neat little beast, and with the aerodynamic efficiency of a phoenix, you get performance and low fuel thirst. Still, only a concept, but who knows.
Crass and Crazy
If you think the VW exhibits were dope, then things only got even more ridiculous as we prowled additional venues. Ariel has its share of mental cars. In fact, most of the small British manufacturers did their best to show off absolutely bonkers cars, with an occasional engine output in the four figure range and such. It's almost like Linux. You get low quality, but the essence of tweaking is in the very DNA of each and every bolt. Not far away, a bunch of gentlemen were selling vintage Testarossas. And there was much rejoicing, again.
Hold your breath
The pinnacle of the event, for me, happened in the Mercedes-Benz shrine. No, it wasn't the all-too-cool SLS AMG GT3R with its gullwings. Nope. That was mighty and hip, but not as much as the legendary, futuristic, divine-orange C111 concept from the 60/70s.
Just look at that car. First, if you happened to have been born a while back, and you had enjoyed at least a little bit of the velor-friendly decade just before the neon revival of the 80s, then you must have a sweet spot in your heart for all the vomity, mustardy, and congress-hall browns of this world.
Asymmetric gullwings, that sweet sweet checkered seat pattern, and a mysterious engine inside. Majestic. Based on its license plate, this seems to be the same car reviewed in the Top Gear magazine in October 2015, so you can probably figure out the exact specification of what they jammed into the car, and I won't tell you. Makes the whole experience more intriguing. But that was definitely the best example for me.
Now, the entre. My mate had the pleasure of going first, in a nice, well-balanced GT86, with a respectable if none too amazing 200 HP and 205 Nm of torque, both reached at very high rpm, rear-wheel drive and almost perfect 47:53% weight distribution. Officially, this car has more or less than same 0-100 km/h oomph as SEAT Leon, however that does not mean it can't be fun. On the contrary, my friend was quite happy with his climb, and he even got scorned by the marshals for going too fast. Alas, no video proof of that, so you will sort of have to believe me.
I got to try my luck in a very humble 1.5-liter 90HP diesel Clio, so the whole experience was rather underwhelming. Still, it was worth it, the whole of two minutes, including the chitchat before the climb. Until I discovered that my GoPro wasn't going and proing anything, because I had failed myself, my nation, my country, and the whole of the universe. Wrong button, that's what he said.
We then spent a while longer taking pictures and watching other cars go by, both amateurs and professionals, ate some more overpriced food, got bored with too much sun, I mean what's up with that, isn't it supposed to be raining all the time in England, and then headed back toward the parking lot, hoping to avoid some of the traffic going back to London.
Waiting for us at the exit was a mangled, funny-looking car that I presume resembles something from some kids' show or a cartoon. Might be one of the new 3D thingies. I guess so. Yes, we climbed into the Type-R, snuggled into the hard buckets, and spent another three or four hours slugging back to the capital, discussing cars and whatnot. For us, the festival was over.
The timely publication of this article means it is closer to Goodwood 2016 than the year it happened, but that's good [sic], because it ought to prime you toward the next festival. I definitely intend to go back and try the hill climb once more, this time with a working camera and a proper car. Then, I've also marked down a few other race tracks on my to-visit and to-drive list, like Silverstone and Donington Park. We shall see.
The Festival of Speed, the first day thereof, and my brief stint there, were great fun. The atmosphere was excellent, the repertoire of cars and technology breathtaking, and the climb itself short and sweet. But I guess it's more about the glamor and aura of the event than the actual physics. Looking at my Spa stint, Goodwood comes quite close in terms of sensation, excitement and the raw appreciation for cars. There, we had the Stratos, and here, the C111. Another life mission accomplished. Well, I hope you enjoyed this little report, and I guess I'm done with my soppy prose for today. More to come. See you around.