( ©Ben Johnston 2014)
So, where do I begin? This weekend, I attended my very first Goodwood Festival of Speed. I arrived in London on Thursday evening full of excitement and anticipating a great weekend of Motorsport action. But what happened over the weekend went far beyond what I was expecting.
We arrived at the Festival early on Friday morning and one of the first driver's I met was Mercedes test driver Sam Bird who, was extremely friendly. We watched some of the action as a variety of car's made their way up the hill. After watching some cars go up the hill it was time to go back to the Driver's area. I was standing right at the barrier and as I was waiting for driver's to come down the red carpet I was taking photographs of McLaren Formula One car's from the late 1980's.
I suddenly saw former Formula One driver, Karun Chandok coming up the red carpet so I called him over and he very kindly posed for a photograph and signed my ticket before heading back up the red carpet to get ready for his run up the hill.
After getting Karun's autograph, I continued to take picture's of the McLaren F1 car's and also some McLaren Road car's that were on display. I was extremely warm on Friday at the Festival and despite being burnt to a crisp it was a fantastic day and got even better when Sir Stirling Moss and his wife, Lady Suzy arrived down the red carpet. He was really friendly and he signed my Friday ticket which was absolutely fantastic and I was able to get a picture of him. Lady Suzy was also really friendly and spoke to the fans too.
On Saturday, Christian Horner was also also at the show with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. They were great stopping and posing for picture's and signing autographs which was great. Former IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti was also at the show over the weekend and it was absolutely fantastic because on the final day of the show I was down in the holding area where all the cars are prepared for their run up the hill when my friend whispered to me that Dario was coming and I got really excited and said where and turned around to find him standing right in front of me.
I was extremely excited as I had followed Dario's career from 2007, the first year he won the IndyCar championship. He was really friendly and I got a great photo of him and he signed my programme. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was absolutely incredible, on Sunday when we met Dario where they prepare the car's for the hill climb they fired up the 2011 McLaren F1 right beside us which was absolutely min blowing!! Even more so by the fact that I wasn't wearing earplugs. It was absolutely sensational.
( © Ben Johnston 2014 )
Saturday was also a great day as I was able to get Jenson Button's autograph which was fantastic. The 2009 world champion was driving his 2011 Canadian Grand Prix winning McLaren MP4-26.
Saturday also Sky Sports F1 HD pundit and former F1 driver Johnny Herbert drive the 2011 Mercedes W02. It was great to get to meet him and get his autograph. However, for me, the highlight of the entire Goodwood Festival of Speed came yesterday, the final day of the event. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen made his first appearance at the Festival driving his 2007 world championship winning car.
We didn't expect Kimi to sign any autographs, however in the morning he appeared on the red carpet and to absolutely everyone's surprise he went up the entire line of fan's signing autographs and I was shaking like a leaf when he got to me and when I tried to ask him a question I hit a brick wall and couldn't say anything. However I did manage to get a photo of him.
It was n absolutely incredible. We were also fortunate enough to meet triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. He was incredibly friendly and it was an absolute honor to meet him and he posed for a photograph.
On Sunday afternoon, McLaren Chief Executive Officer, Ron Dennis was on his up the red carpet and when he got to me, I asked him if he was enjoying the festival to which he replied 'I am indeed, thank you very much'.
The excitement didn't stop there, at the end of the Festival, everyone who had stayed on was invited by Lord March, the owner of Goodwood estate to go into the his massive house for a glass of champagne. It was an incredible end to an absolutely sensational weekend.
I would highly recommend a trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed to any motor racing fan, as it is just Formula One orientated. There is plenty to do at the Festival and is a fantastic and unique opportunity to up close to your motor racing hero's. So if you can't get to a Grand Prix or aswell as a race The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an absolute must with ticket's starting from just £40.
© Ben Johnston 2014