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2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Touring the grounds

What's the Festival of Speed like from the ground? Pretty incredible, as it turns out.

If you have a strong passion for cars and haven't been to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, what have you been doing?

It's one of the most celebrated car events in the world, where vehicles with a strong racing history have the chance to race down the Duke of Richmond’s (formerly Lord March, courtesy of the Royal Family's peculiar naming structure) driveway with the stunning Goodwood House as a backdrop, while more than 200,000 people watch on.

You'll be like a kid in a candy store with a stupid grin on your face, pointing to cars you simply don’t see driving down Australian streets – or British, American and European streets, for that matter.

As Goodwood regulars have said, it’s either pouring rain or stinking hot, and the latter was the case this year. At around 26 degrees with the sun beating down, there was enough red skin to make the Ferrari paddock look pale. Brits do a lot of things well, but warm weather isn't one of them.

CarAdvice was there with McLaren to view the new 600LT. In all black, it was a huge crowd favourite as part of the impressive McLaren House display, where it sat alongside the equally crowd-pleasing Senna.

I also had the opportunity to be a passenger in the 570S Spider with Le Mans driver, Oliver ‘Oli’ Webb behind the wheel, driving flat out up the 1.87-kilometre Goodwood hillclimb.

Travelling under the famous Goodwood sign and hearing the 3.8-litre V8 reverberate off the stone wall was an unforgettable experience, it was too surreal to describe. Stay tuned for the on-board video.

There were many records broken this year. Perhaps most notable was the Volkswagen I.D R, which completed the climb in 43.05 seconds and took many spectators by surprise, sending them scrambling for their phones as it quietly flew past.

Terry Grant took significantly longer, but his 2:24.5 run was arguably more impressive, teetering up the hill on two wheels in the new Land Rover Sport SVR to break his previous two-wheeled mile record by more than 30 seconds.

He had the crowd mesmerised. Once he passed, everyone was glued to the giant screens in wonder, gasping when he came perilously close to tipping over and cheering as he crossed the finish line.

There was also a real focus on future mobility this year, with a driverless car from Roborace becoming the first autonomous vehicle to complete the hillclimb, and an autonomous car (weirdly, a 1965 Ford Mustang) attempting the task.

Although the Roboracer had a seamless run, the Siemens muscle car had some dramas, wanting to veer right into the wall on its second run.

Away from autonomy, the action hotted up when a Lexus RCF GT3 caught fire, with driver Scott Pruett escaping unhurt. The cause is still unknown, but Pruett later said he heard something snap in the rear and a strong smell of petrol. Never a good sign...

The car garnering the most interest was the 911 Dynamic Lightweighting Study by Singer, created with help from Williams Advanced Engineering. The company had a race version doing the hillclimb (it sounded magnificent), a top-of-the-line model (it looked incredible) and five others flanking it.

According to Singer, a (particularly wealthy) gentleman from Sydney flew to Goodwood to have a look, put down order and flew back home the same day. That’s dedication. And wealth. It's also wealth.

One static car stole the show without actually turning a wheel in anger, and that was the 1939 Mercedes-Benz T80. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, it was to be a land-speed world-record breaker, but the outbreak of World War 2 put an end to that.

It was the first time it has ever been shown in public, and the body was removed to reveal its giant six wheels and 44.5-litre V12 engine. The engineering on show was just mind-blowing.

Lots of manufacturers use Goodwood Festival of Speed to debut or reveal their latest vehicles and concepts, so it's worth rubbing shoulders with the crowd in the First Glance and Supercar paddock for a peek.

Some of the standouts and crowd-pleasers were the Toyota Supra, Brabham BT62, Apollo Intense Emozione (which resembled something out of Batman), Porsche 911 Speedster, Nissan GT-R50, and an Aston Martin Cygnet V8 which had a lot of people scratching their heads.

This year's feature celebration was Porsche’s 70th anniversary, commemorated with a 52m-tall sculpture holding five iconic models. Many used its shadow to shelter from the sun. Once again, the Brits don't deal well with the heat.

On Sunday, all the Porsche models at the show parked underneath it as two giant flags were slowly unfurled down over Goodwood House and fireworks and music filled the air.

It really was something to behold, and I wouldn't be lying to say a tear of happiness was shed.

Sure, you can watch the live social media feed or YouTube to your heart's content, but being there to witness Goodwood is the only way to do it.

You're able to cast your eyes over every curve of a car's body from every angle, to smell the strong burning rubber or racing fuel, to have the engine sounds fill your ears and vibrate through your body, and to talk to its drivers and mingle with a car-obsessed crowd.

The only problem? Once you go, you’ll want to go back every year.

MORE: Goodwood Festival of Speed coverage

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