CLOUDS parted and Goodwood was blessed with bright sunshine as thousands of car fans arrived to lap up one of the highlights of their year.
The 2012 Festival of Speed roared off the startline with the Moving Motor Show, which gave would-be buyers the exciting chance to test drive a range of the latest production models on the world-famous hillclimb course.
Members of the public got behind the wheel of everything from family Fords to Ferraris, negotiating the same ribbon of Tarmac that will see a host of motor racing stars burning rubber over the festival weekend.
Goodwood’s Lord March said: ‘It’s a modern motor show unlike any other as people actually get the chance to get in the cars and drive.’
Crowds at the estate near Chichester also had early access to a number of festival attractions before the event proper got under way today.
They could enjoy sideways action on the forest rally stage, plus visit an aviation exhibition and go to the FoS-TECH pavilion to see what we’ll be driving in the future.
In the paddocks, the sound of revving engines filled the air as an amazing array of racing cars and bikes were being readied for action, including both historic and contemporary machines.
At least six F1 teams, including Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, have brought cars to do runs and thrill motorsport enthusiasts between today and Sunday.
Petrolheads were in their element as they could get up close to machines including Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren from last year and ask questions of team members.
Ayrton Senna’s nephew and Williams F1 star Bruno Senna was among the first big names expected to drive today, with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button flying in tomorrow and Hamilton coming on Sunday.
Early arrivals yesterday included French ex-Ferrari and Renault F1 driver Rene Arnoux, while world champions Alain Prost, Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, John Surtees and Damon Hill are heading to the festival.
Crowds of up to 180,000 are expected at this year’s festival, which has the theme of Young Guns – drivers, riders, designers and engineers whose talent marked them out for stardom at an early age.
As well as the track, there’s plenty of action in the air. Today sees the Red Arrows and a Typhoon perform, while tomorrow features a display by a Tornado and the Typhoon is back on Sunday.
Lord March said: ‘It promises to be the biggest and best Festival of Speed ever. We’ve got the greatest cars from around the world and many of the greatest drivers.’
He added: ‘The way this event has grown since we started back in 1993 is fantastic. Now I look out of my bedroom window in the morning and see all the people streaming in. We’re all passionate about cars in all their forms and this is the biggest car culture event anywhere.’
n Don’t miss The News tomorrow and Monday for coverage of the festival, plus weekend updates at portsmouth.co.uk and on Twitter using the hashtag #newsfos.