Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Mole brings you... Lee McKenzie at Goodwood

From The Mole @ BBC

The Mole welcomes BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie back on to the blog, to discuss her experiences at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend.
What a special weekend the Goodwood Festival of Speed is. It has become an institution in the British motorsport calendar since it was founded by Lord March in 1993 and this year's event, which took place over the weekend, continued the tradition.
The Festival features hundreds of cars - some of the most expensive, the fastest, the most memorable and the strangest in the world. That also goes for bikes, and in some cases drivers, too!
Goodwood is much more than just an event. It is a complete celebration of all things motorsport and I absolutely love it. Nowhere else in the world can the public get so close to the cars and, of course, the drivers.
There are no motorhomes or closed-off paddocks, and not many places for them to hide. And the Drivers' Club, which is where they head for food and drinks, really was a who's who last weekend.
As I walked in I met the always charming Murray Walker, strolled past Sir Stirling Moss and in one quick glance could see multiple world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, Le Mans winner Allan McNish, five-time Grand Prix bike champion Mick Doohan, Ayrton Senna's nephew Bruno Senna and the very first man to spray champagne after winning a race, 1960s Formula 1 legend Dan Gurney.

Stirling Moss in the 1954 Mercedes W154

On Sunday, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton came along to drive the hill and entertain the crowds, joining a number of other current F1 drivers who attended over the weekend - including Red Bull's Mark Webber, Williams's Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima and Toyota's Timo Glock.

Championship leader Jenson Button was one of many F1 drivers at the Festival.. ... and drove the 1934 Mercedes W25 Grand Prix car

Without fail, the drivers find enthusiasm for Goodwood is contagious. Glock was so excited by the whole event and so disappointed when he discovered he could only drive up the hill twice a day in his F1 car that asked if he could drive the Toyota Corolla World Rally Car on the forest stages - which he did and loved. That makes a third rally convert in the F1 paddock - between him, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica, there will be no drivers left in F1 at this rate!
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 in which Ayrton Senna won his first world title being driven up the hill, with the great Brazilian's nephew Bruno at the wheel. The same helmet, same colours, same driving style - it was quite spooky.
There were plenty of celebrations, too - 100 years of Audi (former F1 driver Jacky Ickx drove a 1939 Auto Union); 75 years since the arrival of the Mercedes Silver Arrows. And Sir Frank Williams's 40 years of F1 were marked by a collection of the team's cars and drivers, past and present. The 1980 world champion Alan Jones got back behind the wheel as did Jacques Laffite and David Coulthard. Current Williams reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg drove Keke Rosberg's1982 championship-winning FW08, slightly concerned about both having to change gears and the H-shape gearbox as he negotiated the hill.

Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine drives Gilles Villeneuve's 1978 Ferrari 312 T3 at Goodwood

But Goodwood was looking forward as well as back over the weekend. Racing car constructor Lola had a car running on bio-fuel made from carrots and potatoes - even the steering wheel was made from carrots and waste material. Maybe F1 teams could cut costs by saving up all the waste from the catering and turn in to spare parts - there's an idea for Max Mosley!
In all seriousness, though, that is the great thing about the Goodwood Festival of Speed - variety and quality and some of the best cars, bikes, driver and riders in the world across all genres. It is a fabulous weekend for anyone with an interest in motorsport pre-war, post-war or present day. And if you have never been before or haven't been for a while, then mark it in the diary for 2010.

Team owner Frank Williams celebrated 40 years in F1 at Goodwood

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