Goodwood Festival of Speed - driving up "the Hill". / by Shaun Armstrong

goodwood FOS sculpture 2015

Driving up the Festival of Speed, Goodwood Hill Climb - one off the bucket list.

I first went to Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2002 and on the few occasions I've not been in the flesh since, I've watched the highlights on the TV.

So, I've seen many cars drive the famous 1.16 mile hill-climb, many times : the "brickyard" start, through the trees, double apex right, past the house with its latest sculpture, fast under the bridge, tricky Molecomb left, hill, Flint wall, right, left and blast up through the finish. Iconic stuff.

For the last few years I've been on the quieter Thursday slot or "Moving Motorshow" as I like to get close and photograph the cars, for my artwork, more than fighting through the crowds. But I've also watched the lucky few get to drive up the Hill in a latest production model although for some reason had not made the effort to try and bag one of the rare slots. 2015 was different.

As usual, I'd left at 4.30am to get to Petersfield by 6.00am to pop the roof down and run the ridges, climbs and fast sections on the back-roads to Goodwood. On a good day the light cuts through the tree-tunnels and mist sits in the valleys...and there is precious little other traffic to spoil my "enthusiasm". One of my favourite drives. This also bags a good parking space and place in the queue for opening at 7.00am.

So wandering through the Moving Motorshow stand/garage I was drawn to the Citroen area and the relatively small queue that had formed. I guess with planning I'd have gone for something more "exotic" but what the hey. To my surprise I bagged a slot in a DS3 Sport which if I had to describe it I couldn't, but it was a drive.

The allotted time came and I got in the car with Lucy from Citroen as they have to drive you to the start. So down at the turn by the Goodwood Hotel we swapped places and for the first time sat in a DS3; no fussy helmet and no "do this, don't do that nannying" - just go for it, she said. Good girl.

We crept up in the queue, or rather hopped, as the the DS3 had quite a high clutch bite point and I feared this may have been the start of the end with visions of start-line stalls in front of the spectators or a pedestrian kangaroo up the hill. Luckily we were also behind a keen guy in a Lexus IS-F. I had seen some people granny-crawl up the hill only to be caught by the next car and now I was actually going up didn't want that to happen.

With adrenaline pumping moving to the famous start line with the chequered-sign "Startline" bales and white overalled marshall my thoughts went to going as quick as I dared in a strange car without binning it in public....and with Lucy coerced into video duties, off we went...

Not too shabby I think. 1m 25 secs so an average of 50mph - 1.16 miles, 9 bends and an extra chicane to stops the noobs straight-lining Molecomb, 93m elevation change over average 5% incline. I'll take that for a one-off. What an experience.

I'd love to have another go as there were some places I know I could attack more and others where I know I was tight (hello, Flint Wall!) so, looking ahead to 2016! The Citroen DS3 was quite quick, if a little light on steering and soft of ride compared to my 350Z but a good car - the hay bales along the route are surprisingly high and a number of bends are unsighted until you get to know them I guess.

It's a great experience, do try and bag a ride if you go to FOS.

My car photo-artwork