The driveway is really skinny. Like one and a half cars wide skinny. And all that stops cars hurtling into the crowds are a bunch of hay bails. It all looks a bit amateur when you first look at it. You wonder how fast they’ll really go? But once that flag drops the caliber of driver and machinery leaves you spellbound at the kahoonas that profession racers have. Those hay bails are also 500kg each.
Television doesn’t pick up how steep the drive way really is but it’s quite the climb. There’s a flint wall all the drivers are scared to hit and you can see why. It’s brutal, it’d be like a can opener ripping a car open if you glanced it. Grip is pretty hard to come by too. It’d been pouring with rain when I went so it was pretty green and muddy. Trees over hang the track so you’ve got patches which stay damp and slippery.
At 1.84 kilometres (1.16 miles) long it’s a fast and furious run. The current lap record is held by Nick Heidfield in a 1999 McLaren Mercedes MP13. Watch it on YouTube you’ll see there is nothing left on the track. Full commitment.
At 41.6 seconds you ‘d think it wouldn’t be being broken anytime soon.
However this year hopes were pretty high with Lazante bringing their newly unveiled McLaren P1 LM. A street legal version of a track only version derived from a road car… get it? Basically a P1 GTR with the hydraulic jack stands removed and indicators added with 986 hp through the rear wheels. It’s limited to only six cars in homage to the McLaren F1 LM and it’s a car that I lust after only second to that aforementioned F1. The road presence of the car is immense. It’s the shear amount of aero and carbon that takes it to a whole new level.
It was a particularly green, slippery track and so in the end, even with legendary Indy 500 winner and now McLaren Automotive test driver Kenny Brack at the wheel, it didn’t eclipse the F1 car. In fact it didn’t even win the event. The honours going to a Subaru hatchback! Not a normal hatch though. An all wheel drive 860 hp Impreza time attack car with a winning time of 46.29 seconds driven by Olly Clark. The P1 LM did however set a street legal car record with it’s run of 47.07 seconds.
Here’s that winning run from Goodwood themselves:
What’s so cool is the varied procession of all things automotive. The Beast of Turin goes up the hill, NASCAR’s doing burn outs, 1980’s Le Mans racers and MotoGP bikes. Then a procession of Ford GT40’s and significant BMW’s though the years.
The drift crew featuring Ken Block and New Zealand’s own Mad Mike Whiddett, whose become a bit of a favourite of both the crowd and Lord March at Goodwood, did huge smokey snakes up the hill with massive angle.
But probably my favourite vehicle to watch go up the hill was the absurd Kamaz Dakar race truck. Physically it’s absurd to see something of such mass going up the hill at such a speed. Top Gear even use them as a support vehicle when things get rough like in Argentina.
They’re a monster vehicle and watching the driver give it the Scandinavian flick up the course was hilarious.
The supercars were stunning on their demonstration laps. Seeing them up close is one thing but to hear them and watch how they perform is something else. It makes you want to work that much harder to buy one- or win a very big Lottery ticket!
The safety car wasn’t too shabby either being a Mercedes AMG GT.
Where else can you see an Audi Auto Union, a Mazda 787B, Porsche 917 Diehard, McLaren F1 GTR Longtail or Brawn F1 car being driven as they were intended?
Goodwood is the only place. And that’s what makes it the greatest automotive spectacle you’ll ever see. Period.