Why the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed was the best one yet
Looking back on an event that still doesn't seem quite real…
It almost goes without saying that 2021's Goodwood Festival of Speed was going to be a bit of a special one. Not only had us petrolheads gone 18 months without much in the way of congregating to indulge our passion, but carmakers haven't really had anyone to show their latest wares to.
So as the Covid-tested crowds gathered in the Duke of Richmond's country-sized garden, it seemed a perfect confluence of pent-up excitement from both punters and manufacturers alike.
Which cars were the stars?
The Festival of Speed is always a great place to spot the most freshly unveiled slices of exotica, and 2021's event was no different. The most photographed car on a stand seemed to be Porsche's Signal Yellow 992-gen 911 GT3. It looked outstanding in its orange-yellow hue, with its unapologetically huge wing and tiny little "Made in Flacht" sticker lurking in its left rear light cluster.
The internet loves this car
Other highlights included Polestar's Precept concept, which will apparently be going into production without too many changes. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath told Autocar "It was built as a show car but our engineers have done the research and found ways to construct it and do it." At more than five metres long it'll serve as Polestar's flagship car when it comes out some time in 2023. Feast your eyes.
It's longer than a Tesla Model S, but how good does the Polestar Precept look?
Filling your lungs with tyre smoke
If you've been to a few Festivals of Speed before, you'll know how easy it is to get carried away exploring the stands and static displays without taking time to watch the hillclimb action. That would've been a mistake at the 2021 event.
This year's hillclimb seemed to claim a few more victims than usual, perhaps the result of drivers having a year off – or maybe just a desire to give the speed-thirsty crowds more of a show than ever before.
The joy of stumbling
Half the fun of trotting around Goodwood's huge site is happening upon cars that aren't on the beaten track, or that you've just plain forgotten about. Often the most interesting cars aren't on the glitzy manufacturer stands or in the supercar paddock.
Very few cars are roped off at the Festival of Speed
There were, understandably, huge queues onto the giant Lotus stand to clap eyes on the new Emira – but if you wandered 100 metres to one of the tents housing the first-glance cars, you could stumble upon a lone Emira, sitting quietly in its slightly dour dark paint, with almost no one crowding it.
Here's a lonely Emira
It's not all about the cars either – the food and toys are awesome too
A day at the Festival of Speed needn't spend all day dribbling over real cars and bikes.
We've always loved Goodwood's huge range of posh food vans – this year there was one that specialised in crispy aromatic duck and we could honestly have spent all day there – but you're really missing out if you don't go exploring the lanes of retail tents.
One of the best at this year's event was that of R/C gurus Traxxas. Not only did they have a little outside area where staff were jumping and flipping R/C trucks off almost vertical ramps, but inside you could take one of their rock crawlers for a trundle. They must've made a killing from kids tugging on their parents' wallets…
Got a spare £550?
It was just great to be around other people again
Without wanting to sound all po-faced, it was wonderful to be out at a buzzing live event surrounded by like-minded people, all keen on enjoying the latest cars, great food and on-track action.
There's something intangibly brilliant about the collective 'ooo', or covering of ears when a 70s F1 car fires up three metres away. From the toddlers with ear defenders to the old boys crank-starting their 100-year-old classics, it seemed everyone had a fantastic time revelling once more in the camaraderie of being a petrolhead. Here's to next year…