August 2, 2023

Ash Robertson At Goodwood

If it’s summer, it’s motorsport season. Our UI & Brand Design Lead Ash Robertson was at Goodwood and came back with some treasure … but being a lovely chap, he agreed to share a little …

Goodwood Festival of Speed is quite possibly my favourite event of the year. For the uninitiated, the Festival of Speed is a week-long celebration of all things motoring, centred around the infamous Goodwood Hillclimb. It’s one of the few places in the world where you will see your heroes—in both the meat and the metal—giving it everything they have on track. It’s also often the chosen spot for brands big and small to unveil their latest and greatest cars, and where you’ll see glimpses into the future with companies demoing everything from sustainable fuels to space-exploring robots. You may even have heard the stories about the insane things you’ll find in the public car park. 

Since we’re all enthusiasts here, I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights from FOS 2023.

Central Feature

Perhaps the most iconic scene at Goodwood is the esteemed Goodwood House with the wacky ‘Central Feature’ towering over it. I’ve been lucky enough to see some impressive structures over the years and this one was no exception. Six completely genuine Porsches spanning 75 years of their automotive history suspended from some sort of giant metal spikey thing. Just don’t ask me how they got them up there!

Lambos, Lambos, Lambos!

I am a Lamborghini fanatic so it would be rude of me to not talk about my favourite purveyors of the outrageous and their show-stopping presence at FOS. Much like their customers, Lamborghini always stands out amongst the rest—even at Goodwood. Perhaps that’s why they don’t just have a trade stand, but instead built a full-service restaurant on the grounds, just for the week of the festival! But I digress. This year they unveiled their new SC63 LMDh Prototype ahead of the 2024 WEC season and what a thing it is. Presented in its own ‘glass case of emotion’, the SC63 must be the first Prototype I’ve ever seen which perfectly captures the style and essence of its manufacturer—it’s unmistakably Lamborghini. Meanwhile in the ‘Supercar paddock’, the stunning new Lamborghini Revuelto made its worldwide debut in the orange-ist orange you can possibly imagine. Just as bonkers, but a slightly different flavour. Despite their best efforts though, the most striking Lamborghini was the absolutely filthy Aventador SVJ owned by YouTuber Mark McCann. Fresh off the Gumball 3000 and featuring rally-spec roof lights which were self-tapped into the carbon fiber, it’s a masterclass in being the centre of attention.

Famous Faces

It wouldn’t be Goodwood without seeing some massive names casually dotted about the place. This year we were blessed with the company of 4-Time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel who took a few of the iconic F1 cars in his collection out for a spin and then topped it off with an actual spin by ripping some donuts in his priceless Williams FW14B. My personal hero Travis Pastrana made a triumphant return to the hallowed hill in his space-aged 1983 Subaru GL Wagon—‘The Family Huckster’. Yes, you read all of that correctly. Slap the number ‘199’ on anything with wheels and you’ll see it do something you have never seen it do before. Travis was only able to claim 2nd place in this year’s Sunday Shootout, but when you realise it was done in something as aerodynamic as a brick and without ever actually travelling in a straight line, it’s a clear winner in my book. One more slightly unexpected sighting was during the parade of Hot Rods brought out to honour the late guitar legend Jeff Beck. The 1933 ZZ Top Eliminator Ford. That car is instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever listened to real music (just kidding), and as someone who blasts ‘La Grange’ at least once a day, I had to snap a quick photo as it rolled by. It was only later in the week when looking back at the photos however, that I noticed a certain ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ behind the wheel. Yes, it was Billy Gibbons himself, what an honour.

Fallen Heroes

On the subject of tributes, one of the more sombre moments of the weekend was the salute to another hero of mine, Ken Block. Of course, we all know what a massive impact he had on the automotive world from his wild Gymkhana series, and I can proudly say that I got to witness some of his sideways shenanigans at FOS on numerous occasions. This year, there was a palpable sadness in the air as we watched replays of Ken on the big screens ripping up the hill in various contraptions from his toybox. It certainly hit hard to watch that footage from the same vantage point as I stood when it was filmed, but know Ken wasn’t going to come flying around the corner in a tornado of smoke this time. Still, we did get to see some of Ken’s prized collection stretch their legs to pay homage. Most notably the RX43–debatably the most famous car in the entire world if you go by YouTube views–and something from the new world–the all-electric Audi S1 ‘Hoonitron’. I’m the first to shout about how an electric whirr will never match the raw punch of a high revving V12, but I must admit, the Hoonitron was incredible.

Glorious Noise

Okay, I talked about an electric car so now I have to restore the balance. Without a doubt, the best part about Goodwood is the sound. It just doesn’t translate through a screen and where else do you get such a vast spread of different engines singing their own unique song. From the gut-punching thud of the 28 litre straight four Fiat S76 ‘The Beast of Turin’ to the ear-melting scream of the Mazda 787b’s NA 4 Rotor, it’s absolute bliss.

Until Next Time…

So, there you have it, my short summary of this year’s Festival of Speed. I saw so many icons of motorsports’ past, present, and future and now it’s time for me to get back to work on helping to bring some of those very same cars back to life in the virtual world in our upcoming sim. I highly recommend making the journey here next year though, it’s something you’ll never forget, and you won’t have to listen to me waffle on about it instead.

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