These days, they say, a successful Goodwood Festival of Speed is as necessary to the health of the nation’s motoring scene as a full tank in every family car. Early on this year, the weather looked as if it might threaten such a happy outcome, what with the cars of some Friday attendees having to be towed into their parking spaces.
Luckily, intermittent sun shone enough through the weekend to make this one of the happiest events ever, and one of the largest. Early reports put attendance at the ticket-only event at the magic 200,000 the organisers have been seeking for the past few years.
The Festival’s secret is to combine the spectacularly predictable – such as most F1 teams smokily demonstrating their cars a week before they take to the British GP grid at Silverstone – with the new and unexpected, such as Renault’s big boss (and closet historic single-seater racer) Carlos Tavares taking to the hillclimb first at the wheel of the new Alpine A110-50 concept coupe with which he intends to found a sports car dynasty, and later in a still-camouflaged Clio 4 prototype, the car upon which his company most depends for a much-needed European revival.
Though Goodwood nowadays kicks off on Thursday with the Moving Motor Show, the day-long event that allows manufacturers to demonstrate cars to customers on closed estate roads, the whole Festival gets closer annually to becoming Britain’s outdoor motor show. Manufacturers colonise the infield with enormous and specially built multi-tier stands (this year’s 'halo' manufacturer Lotus’s was biggest of all). International car bosses arrive on the South Coast from every point of the compass, as they never did to London’s series of ill-fated static motor shows, lured by amazing cars and a couple of nights’ accommodation in 'the House' at Lord March’s pleasure.