MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Why the fans love Goodwood
I never made it to Assen. Instead of heading north east last week I found myself running in the opposite direction, towards Goodwood.
Goodwood’s Festival of Speed is Glastonbury for petrol-heads or Ascot with engines, if you hang out around the Drivers’ Club where there’s a lot of bouffants and blazers. Most of all it’s a living, breathing, ear-shattering museum of motor sport.
That’s the main reason the Festival of Speed attracts a crowd of 150,000 (it would be bigger but they’re not allowed to sell more tickets for fear of grid-locking West Sussex). Unlike most sports, motorcycle racing and car racing have a vast material history. You wouldn’t (well, I wouldn’t) travel halfway across the country to see a hundred years of football goalposts or cricket stumps, but you would (well, I would) go many miles to check out Freddie Spencer’s 1985 Rothmans Honda NSR500 and Giacomo Agostini’s 1969 MV Agusta.
The event seems to teeter on the edge of chaos, which is exactly where it should be, like a good party. Fans swarm around the bikes and then jump out of their skins when a mechanic fires an engine into life just inches away. I spent the weekend riding a few bikes up the hill and had some fun getting from the paddock to the holding area, pushing through the crushing crowd, blipping the throttle and bumping into people.
I may have scared a few fans, but surely that’s why you go to a racing event, isn’t it? It’s certainly got to be better than sitting behind a 100m gravel trap and a 10ft fence, skimming the horizon for sign of man and machine.
That’s the other reason the Festival of Speed is so popular. Even if you were able to beg/borrow/steal a paddock pass for a MotoGP or Formula 1 round, you’d be lucky to get anywhere near man or machine. At Goodwood it’s all there, right in front of you, if you’re prepared to fight your way through the throng.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.