It's almost inevitable that a British event would involve talking about the weather, and when the British winter seemed to morph into spring and almost skip summer, its belated arrival was worth noting. In fact, the bright yellow orb in the sky managed to make an appearance for all four days of the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, bathing it in warmth, and bringing a glow to the entire proceedings.
This year's Festival of Speed was a bit more special because it celebrated the 20th anniversary, with this being the 21st event since it was inaugurated in 1993. Back then, Lord March and his team expected 2500 visitors but received 25000. This year, a record sellout crowd of 196000 were treated to four awesome days of petrolhead nirvana.
Anniversaries were in vogue, with both McLaren and the 911 celebrating 50 years; the latter giving us the stunning 111ft-high Gerry Judah-designed central sculpture, depicting three examples of the 911 that were racing each other to the sky.
Predictably, the 911 was everywhere you looked, with a vast array spread across the grounds in every category, with a fabulously diverse selection running up the hill twice a day. There was also a pristine example of every major iteration on display at the Porsche booth next to Molecomb Corner, and some truly rare 911s shown in the Cartier 'Style et Luxe' paddock.
As usual, Style et Luxe was one of the highlights of the event, attracting classic icons and concepts. It's where you'd see a Bugatti Veyron sharing space with a Peugeot concept car, a McLaren F1 and a Ferrari 250LM in one place.
As ever, the Michelin Supercar Paddock proved just as compelling as the racecar paddock, and a glance through the list of entrants explained why. Making dynamic debuts were the McLaren P1, Porsche 991 GT3, Aston Martin CC100 (of which three examples will be built for wealthy clients), sublime Jaguar CX75 and F-Type-based 'Project 7' concepts, alongside a selection of 'normal' supercars - if the Ferrari F12, Pagani Hyaura, Lamborghini Aventador Roadster and Lexus LFA are your idea of normal...
It was also great to finally see the Alfa 4C in action on the hillclimb, and it looked stunning. We predict it will be a sensation when it arrives in the US in 2014.
A new feature for 2013 Festival (and surely now a regular fixture) was the 'supercar forward parking' area, which allowed registered cars entry to a special parking area close to the foot entrance. The resulting collection of cool and interesting cars made for a show all of their own, with an incredibly rare Schuppan 962CR being a particular highlight. Not many cars can grab the limelight when flanked by an MP4-12C and Lamborghini Countach, but this one managed it...
Rally has long been a great feature of the Festival of Speed, and those making the walk up to the rally stage were rewarded by everything from modern WRC cars to classic Lancia Stratos and Ford Escorts, all hitting the stage along with Group B weapons and legendary Imprezas.
Most of these cars can be found in the latest version of Gran Turismo, with version 6 of the iconic game making its debut in 'race pods' at various locations around the site. It afforded showgoers a chance to see the newest iteration of the world's greatest driving game. In fact, the 1.16-mile Goodwood hillclimb course even makes an appearance in the game and, as in real life, Molecomb (the tricky left-hand corner after the main straight) proved the undoing of many attempted times. At least there's a reset button here!
Sadly, there isn't in real life, and the corner claimed several victims throughout the weekend. Speeds aren't too high, so the biggest casualty was the owner's wallet.
Central to the Festival of Speed are the racing cars; from all ages, and all categories. A stroll through the paddock at any time of day could see you surrounded by anything from a 1938 Mercedes W154 'Silver Arrow' (driven by Lewis Hamilton and Jochen Mass, no less...), AC Cobras, Ferrari 250GTO, or a Mercedes 300SLR (which Stirling Moss drove 58 years after his Mille Miglia win), to thundering Chevy Monte Carlo and Camaro NASCAR racers. With 27 categories going up the hill and a list as diverse as "Pre War GP" to "Indianapolis icons" and "Modern GT racers", it's safe to say there's something to tick every box.
One of the greatest attractions was category 20: "Contemporary Grand Prix Cars". Convincing busy F1 teams to send their drivers to the event, and run a car up the hill is no mean feat, but it makes for a spectacular sight and sound. Timed runs are no longer allowed in this category (it was getting silly - type "Nick Heidfeld Goodwood Record" into YouTube, and watch the car fight him all the way), but this allows the drivers to destroy rear tires with noisy burnouts, spins and donuts. It's not allowed after an F1 race, so they get their fill here, and Hamilton won this battle by a mile.
Talking of times, the fastest time shootout (most categories are still allowed timed runs) took place on Sunday between the top 10 cars from all the timed runs of the weekend. The winner was Justin Law with an impressive 45.95sec in his Jaguar XJR8/9 ahead of the Pikes Peak-winning Peugeot 208 T16. The all-time course record of 41.6sec set by Heidfeld's V10 McLaren MP4-13 puts that into perspective - mighty fast!
Such is the scale and diversity of the Festival of Speed (we haven't even mentioned the air displays, motorbikes, famous faces, Land Speed record car display, vendor area, etc) we could easily to fill countless pages describing the event in all its glorious detail. Such is the pull of Lord March's wonderful event that you'll see cars in action here that you wouldn't get to see anywhere else. So if you didn't make it this year, look out for dates to be announced later in the year and clear your calendar - it's a truly unique event and not to be missed!