CAR is at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, and will update this page with news and snippets, photos and video beamed straight from the Earl of March's hillclimb. NB we'll update the latest news at the top of the page in blog format, so if you're reading for the first time start at the foot of the page and work your way up!
SUNDAY 4 JULY 2010
2.45pm: Home time
It might seem like too soon to leave, but I have been here since 6.30am, and the sad excuse of wanting to beat the traffic means it's time to leave Goodwood once again. Still a great show, even if it is getting too big. Till next year...
1.45pm: The Aussie brute
After all the supercars have gathered at the top, and Lewis Hamilton (he was driving an orange MP4-12C) has signed numerous autographs and posed for numerous photographs (including one with me), we get the all clear and head back down the hill. More on the Holden drive coming tomorrow too.
1.00pm: The Aussie brute
Up at the start line I get all the TCS and ESP turned off, only for a marshall to stand alongside the car when I'm released. Not wanting to take someone out, I drive (a few yards forward, get just beyond him, and lay down two proper big black lines and leave a smokey haze behind us. Mr Lipman seems suitably impressed, so we charge on up the hill, V8 roaring.
12.30pm: The Aussie brute
With snapper James Lipman riding shotgun, the Vauxhall PR man sends me on my way from the Cathedral Paddock, after getting me to promise that I'll make my getaway from the start line spectacular. Haven't done a big burnout in ages, but as we pass the start line to the holding area, a marshall steps forwards, stops me, and asks if I'm thinking of doing a doughnut or burnout. Thinking Goodwood are cracking down, or that they're onto me, I mutter something about maybe smoking the tyres. 'Right you are then, sir,' comes the reply. 'I'll hold the car behind' And with that the Ruf CTR3 behind me is stopped so I can smoke the rear wheels for the crowds gathering in the holding area. Unfortunately I've forgotten to turn of the traction control so we launch forward with no fuss. And no smoke!
9.40am: Back down the hill
Run over, and time to head off round Goodwood for a look at everything else. Just need to be back in the Cathedral Paddock at 12.30am for my next drive…
9.10am: Up the hill
My run up the hill is over all too soon (full story to come tomorrow) as the B5 is mega quick, but as we’re one of the first ten cars up the hill, it means we get to watch as all the other supercars arrive at the top. Jaguar guru Mike Cross is there in the XKR 75, as is Lotus chassis man Matt Becker in an Evora, and the most confident (or cocky) drivers get their cars sideways coming into the car park
8.40am: Mr Bell
As we congregate by the start line I climb out and wander up and down the line of cars. I spot Derek Bell, two-ahead in a mustard yellow drop-top Bentley GTC, and he tells me that he still hasn’t fixed his 924 Carrera GTS. Readers might remember that it broke down on him when he was helping us on a Porsche shoot, but that was two years ago and he’s being giving it an octane booster to make it run ever since. Most of the time that works, until last week when it refused to start, despite him having driven it just hours before.
8.10am: Twin-turbo BMW
Find my ride, Alpina’s new 500bhp B5, resplendent in bright white and rolling on gorgeous 20-inch rims, and we join the queue out to the starting line. It might be early but the crowds are already three-deep and hanging over the railings to see who’s behind the wheel. Having been here as a punter back when I was studying at university, it’s now amazing that I’m driving up the famous hill – if only everyone wasn’t trying to work out who I am!
8.00am: Supercar love
I love Goodwood, and the Supercar Paddock might just be my favourite part. Why? Because some of the stuff here is so rarified that it almost doesn’t register on my radar, whereas the stuff in the Supercar Paddock seems a little more real-world or obtainable. Granted, a Koenigsegg, two Zondas, the Citroen GT concept car, a couple of Veyrons, plus various Porsches, Lambos and Ferraris are well beyond my budget, but the crowds in this part of Goodwood are always huge.
Heading towards the Supercar Paddock means you have to pass through the Cartier Style et Lux, a wonderful showcase where every year you see amazing, beautiful cars you never knew existed. Gorgeous Maseratis and Alfas abound, but I always love to see the same blue Bugatti EB110 (filthy with dust before the cleaners have got to it – it didn’t have a cover). The Italdesign-BMW Nazca C2 concept looks great too.
7.30am: A Dunhill Driver for the day
After a quick wander around the deserted paddocks (not many people around, or cars as the most precious ones are safely tucked away in trailers) I make my way over to the Dunhill Drivers’ Club to get my driver wristband – I’m lucky enough to be driving two different cars up the hill today
6.50am: Shut out
Wander towards the entrance gates, only to find a big queue – never been this early to Goodwood before and surprised to learn that you can’t get in until 7am. I join the other 200-plus members of the public who look equally excited.
4.30am: Morning!Saturday 3 July
Alarm goes off, and having been unable to get to sleep last night (yes, I was too excited), all I want to do now is roll over and go back to bed. I’ve overnighted at my parents’ house, just north of the M25, to make the trek from Peterborough to Goodwood that little bit more palatable. By 5am I’m on the road, and 90 minutes later I’m parking up – there was hardly a car on the road, a welcome change from the 4 ½ hours it took me to get home from Farnborough on Friday night.
My highlight on Saturday was a rally passenger ride with Freddie Loix in the Skoda Fabia S2000. But first there was a ride up the hill – including obligatory doughnuts at the bottom – which was over in a flash. And quite dull, compared with what was to follow.
I had to sign on for a Goodwood competition licence to take part as passenger, and heard that Kris Meeke was fastest in the Peugeot at 1.18.08; Loix’s best time was 1.20. After winning in his competition debut last weekend in the Geko Ypres Rally, there was a determination to try and beat the Peugeot’s time. Game on.
As the Fabia flew over the humps of the Goodwood forest rally stage, we slid across the gravel throwing sand up in a smoke haze through the summer heat. How on earth can the drivers even see through the dust clouds on some of these bends?
I was very excited despite being thrown about like a rag doll. My body literally jumped up from the seat as the car flew over what appeared to be the harshest of bumps in the track. ‘Are you ok?’ shouted Loix over the intercom. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m fine go for it!’ I shot back, eager to beat that 1.20 time.
Loix’s ability to take the wider bends and come out sideways on this surface without losing control was inspiring. He made it look easy. The crowd surrounded the edge of the track watching in excitement.
As we cross the finish line, I see we didn’t quite beat the Peugeot’s best time. But it’s still the best time Loix has hit all weekend coming in at 1.19.06. A ride to remember!
FRIDAY 2 JULY 2010
Sadly for me, it's time to get home. I've barely scratched the surface of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and regret my action-packed day that's left precious little time to wander and enjoy. Still, other members of the CAR team are coming down over the weekend and will bring updates and snippets on Saturday and Sunday. Stay tuned for more!
3.21pm: To the paddock
You can't come to the Festival of Speed and not wander around the paddock. I catch a glance at the Audi Le Mans R15 TDI, fresh from its 1-2-3 at La Sarthe. Pink Floyd drummer and general car nut Nick Mason is driving a 1939 Auto Union Type D with twin superchargers. It looks quite a beast. Getting so close to these beasts is a rarity; Goodwood definitely beats Le Mans for hero worship. That said, the Festival has grown enormously since my first trip in 1998. Has it lost some of its purity? Perhaps. The crowds are massive on day one when once they were minuscule a decade ago. There's sponsorship and corporate hospitality galore, yet you have to hand it to LM. It's done classily and with great attention to detail. On balance, Goodwood still has style and character in spades.
3.00pm: Parking a £750,000 prototype in a tiny space
The Ampera has to go back in the FoSTec pavilion and that job befalls me. The glass doors are absolutely tiny and an Opel engineer helps guide me in. Let's brush over a small low-speed nudge of wing mirror – the doors on this tent are seriously tiny! No harm done. I hand over the keys and come away quietly impressed by the Ampera. I've followed this from day one, when the Chevy Volt was first shown in Detroit in 2007. These range-extending hybrids seem to me like a very good solution, although the prices will have to fall before they gain mainstream appeal.
2.55pm: Mike Cross's tips
Seems like CAR reader Archie had a ball going up the hill with Jag driver Mike Cross. I can see what he means about spending most of the time looking through the side windows. Cross has the XKR Crossed-up™ at every available opportunity. He tells me that he especially likes the first two corners of the course. 'If it's dry, there's good grip on the grass in front of Goodwood House, so you can hang it out there,' he smiles. Cheers Mike – you've given one of our readers a day he'll never forget.
2.50pm: Archie Robertson on video
2.10pm: It's our turn
The Ampera has an intriguing novelty gearlever. Tug it into D and we're off, silently creeping to our starting place at the foot of Lord March's drive. There are only two cars ahead of me, including the taxi with a Lotus-derived fuel cell. Sadly it pulls over at the side of the road and we're waved past. Gulp. It's my first run up the hill. Thankfully in an automatic electric vehicle, few can expect doughnuts or burn-outs, so I simply mash the throttle and... a quiet whirr generally builds up – Vauxhall claims 0-60mph in 9.0sec – and we gingerly shoot up the hill to a whiepery whoosh. We must be hitting 70-80mph by the first corner, so I brake (weird pedal feel) and haul the Ampera into the first corner as Goodwood House looms. I keep remembering the price and the roly-poly, US-spec suspension. We're wallowing and pitching through every corner and even with full EV charge, our pace is at best sedate. Still, what a way to go up the hill.
1.51pm: Autograph stunting
Some poor kid will be very disappointed when he gets home. 'You the driver of this?' asks a dad, pointing to the Ampera. A programme is thrust into my hand by a young seven-ish-year-old. 'Err, but I am a nobody, really.' It doesn't work and I have to scrawl on the pamphlet. Poor kid.
1.20pm: The British do a good queue
We seem to be waiting an awfully long time. One of the ever-so nice stewards tells us there's a half hour wait. We hang out in the Ampera enjoying the sight of the supercars gathering. Time to hear a bit about the Ampera, né the Chevy Volt in European drag. It'll come to UK shores in spring 2012, wearing a price tag of around £30,000. If the Government sticks with its £5k cashback, that would bring it down to £25k. Still punchy, but not so much more than a top-spec Prius and its ilk.
12.41pm: Insurance policy
'Don't forget this thing costs three quarters of a million quid, Tim,' chips in Denis, the convivial head of PR at Vauxhall. But he then eggs me on, saying the last driver managed a squeal of rubber through the first corner.
12.30pm: To my steed!
After a brief faux pas (why would the Ampera be in the Sunday Times Supercar Paddock?), I arrive hot and blustered at the FoSTec pavilion. This is the Festival of Speed's mecca to green cars and where the Ampera is. Shame it's quarter of an hour away from the red-blooded supercars. But I arrive just in the nick of time and learn about the controls in the Ampera. Seems simple to operate. What could possibly go wrong in front of 30,000 braying onlookers?
11.45am: Red Arrows, everywhere
Lord March has a great relationship with the Red Arrows and they're here again this year, performing the most ludicrous stunts overhead. It's all tricolor smoke and 800mph closing-speed near-misses. A fabulous spectacle in the sky.
11.15am: Meeting the CAR competition winner
Archie Robertson is the lucky man who's won a run up the hill in the new Jaguar XKR 75. He arrives with his wife and is looking forward to his blat up the hill with Mike Cross, Jag's chief driving 'hand' and the man responsible for making their cars handle and ride properly. He likes to show off a bit at Goodwood, does Mike. Mainly sideways, with smoke pouring off the back tyres.
10.37am: Ken Block lets rip
Can this man drive in a straight line? Block's Monster Focus rally car is so softly sprung and so tail happy that he pirouettes in front of the grandstands with merry abandon. It's poetry in motion – and utterly addictive. Some of the guys pulling stunts on bikes are equally gifted mind; standing on the saddle while pulling a wheely seems, like, mad. But at Goodwood such treats are commonplace.
10.14am: The Alfa sculpture
Is it just me or is the Alfa sculpture a tad small compared to previous installations? Following last year's Audi effort it was bound to be. Audi's policy at pretty much anything these days seems to be bigger = better. Well, the Alfa construct is simple and the two sports cars bookending its oeuvre are decidedly droolworthy. Look closely: the sculpture describes the Cloverleaf.
It's a dry morning in West Sussex and even by 10am the venue is swarming with visitors. Goodwood is busy come rain or shine, but there's definitely a more fun atmosphere when the sun's out and shorts and t-shirts on. The Bathurst racers, marking 50 years of the great Australian venue, are snorting up the hill as CAR arrives. The layout's the same year in, year out at Goodwood and it makes it easy to get around. I'm all registered and ready to go. The press centre is quite local, so we'll be updating this page throughout the day. I'm driving up the hill in a Vauxhall Ampera (my first drive at Goodwood) and other CAR notables will be piloting an array of disparate cars from hybrids to supercars over the weekend.
Come back for more updates over the weekend! For our guide to the highlights of the 2010 Festival of Speed, click here.
THURSDAY 1 JULY 2010
The inaugural Moving Motor Show at Goodwood was marred by a small incident when a Honda Civic Type R Mugen crashed.
However, it appears the incident was not as serious as first feared. It's the first time that Lord March has extended the festival by a day, to incorporate a moving motor show where selected members of the public could drive manufacturers new cars up the hillclimb.
The accident happened around 1.00pm on Thursday 1 July 2010 when the driver fainted in the heat. It was a professional driver, not a member of the public as first reported.
Bystanders received minor injuries but were treated at the scene and nobody is understood to have required hospital treatment.
The Moving Motor Show was suspended temporarily as stewards and emergency services rescued the driver. The accident only happened at low speed in the Ride & Drive Hall.
Several classic Jaguars were damaged in the impact, too.