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16 July 2012

Getting my feet wet at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Words and photos by Elmer Maniebo
Without any annual International Auto Show to boast about, the Brits are left wondering how to satisfy their petrol head fix. I was at the 2008 British International Auto Show held at Excel, London, and, judging by the attendance of car manufacturers and new launches, it was nowhere near the pomp and drama of the likes of Geneva, Frankfurt, or Paris. 
But every year, over 200,000 certified petrol, gear, or piston heads from all over the world gather around 12,000 acres of glorious woodlands, empty fields, and a racetrack nestled along a woody estate and perched above Chichester in West Sussex. Showcasing the world’s best race car drivers behind the wheels of the most exotic, fastest, and rarest cars the planet has ever seen, this is the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
On a Feast
There are car shows and there is the Goodwood Festival of Speed - a place where you can actually see, hear, smell, touch exotic supercars, and meet their drivers. Driving in a mixed hill climb along nine turns, cars whizzed by in a blur along 1.16 miles of tarmac surrounded by some 50,000 screaming fans. The smell of burnt tires, the aroma of petrol, and the ear-splitting sound of F1 engines created a dizzying atmosphere only car nuts truly understand.
Several world debuts of long-awaited car models added to the drama on the already pimped-up event. McLaren wowed the crowd with the upgraded 2013 version of its phenomenal MP4-12C. And to add a touch of patriotism, they donned one of their cars with the Union Jack livery. 
The new Aston Martin Vanquish also debuted with much anticipation, due to the promise that it’ll look completely different from their current roster.
Meanwhile, Mazda rolled out its 205 bhp concept MX-5 GT that proudly blended in with the Italian, German, and British supercars. The Americans even crossed the Pacific to be part of the festivities and commemorated the late Carroll Shelby with a stunning special edition Ford Shelby GT500 that roared valiantly along the Goodwood Hill to salute the racing legend.
British Racing Green
This year's festival featured Lotus and its outstanding achievements in engineering for the past 60 years. They have taken center stage to seize the opportunity to showcase their rich history, legacy, and future by brining the whole factory to Goodwood and their entire lineage that numbered into the hundreds.
I’ve never seen such a huge number Lotuses in my entire life. Young and old, racing and road-legal models - they paraded their long history of car-making expertise and traditions with such grace amidst the current management turmoil. 
Living a Dream
The highlight of the day was the ultimate run of stunning cars that were driven by the big wigs of the motoring industry. Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel drove his very own special edition Infiniti FX, followed by Mark Webber in the current Red Bull Racing RB8. Following suit was an endless parade of supercars after supercars after supercars that consisted of Lamborghinis, Paganis, Bugattis, Ferraris, Aston Martins, McLarens, Lotuses, Mercedes, Alfa Romeos, and Nobles. These modern marvels were intertwined with rare classics and concept racing cars in an eardrum-shattering mix of growls, hisses, screeches, howls, and screams. Simply put, it sounded like a dream.
The Goodwood Experience
Just like any other British open-air, outdoor festival, it rained, and after the rain followed the mud. The Goodwood Festival of Speed wasn’t spared by torrential downpour. And if you think of Wimbledon, Glastonbury - it’s not all pomp and glory all day long. 

Those portable toilets stunk to high heaven; food is ridiculously expensive (try getting a hotdog for £10 or P700); and your feet will ache from all the walking. Add to that the terrible bumper-to-bumper traffic getting in and out of the venue that's reminiscent of rush-hour EDSA and Baclaran on Wednesdays. But after spending an entire day seeing these rare beasts up close and roar in all their glory, I'd say it’s worth the trip. The experience is like no other. This is the Goodwood Festival of Speed.