After returning the C-Type to the F1 paddock I make my way to the Dunhill Drivers' Club. There's only one entrance and it serves as a honeypot for autograph hunters. Some are just enthusiastic children, but others are more sophisticated. "Professional" autograph hunters carry packets of photographs and bags of broken car parts. Earlier in the day, I'd witnessed Pedro de la Rosa being asked to sign a mangled piece of carbon fiber that once belonged to his F1 Jaguar.

The "pros" offer me no more than a quizzical glance, but as I pause for photography a young boy approaches and hands me a program. I try to explain that I'm just a journalist, but his father is already poised with a camera. So I scribble my name on his program and hope that I haven't just wiped $100 off its eBay value. Then another arrives with a flag, and another with an autograph book. I feel silly, but at least it offers me an insight into what it must be like to be a genuine celebrity. There's no question that the attention is good for the ego, but I wonder if the novelty would wear off.

Eventually there are no more trinkets to sign and I make my way inside the club. Billed as a private refuge for celebrity drivers, it offers catering facilities, a couple of display screens and a plethora of tables. Most of the time it resembles a motor racing "Who's Who," but the atmosphere is relaxed and informal.

In the changing room, I meet Emerson Fittipaldi who is wearing what can only be described as tatty Y-fronts. This is not ideal-unless your hero is an attractive heroine, it is never good to meet them in their pants. "It is so wet out there," he muses. "And my car [a Penske IndyCar from '94] is still geared for the Indy 500-I can't get out of first." Moments later "Emmo," F1 World Champion in '72 and '74, slides into a set of Marlboro-liveried overalls and order is restored. The Emperor has rediscovered his clothes.

It dries out over lunchtime, only to start raining again by the time I begin my second run. I'm feeling more confident now and there are less histrionics. At the top, it's raining more heavily, but this affords me the chance to talk to a solitary figure sitting, sheltered by an umbrella, in the Ferrari 312 T3 in which Gilles Villeneuve won the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix. The overalls are plain and the helmet is bereft of sponsor's logos but its design and the eyes inside are instantly recognizable.

"This is the one and only time I'm going to drive it," says Jacques Villeneuve, who had flown in especially for the event. "It feels incredibly fragile. There's nothing here," he continues, grabbing the side panels. "I guess I'm used to driving safe racing cars." His thoughts are particularly poignant, given his father's tragic fate.

Scenes like this are central to the appeal of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Some drivers attend for contractual reasons, but many more turn up because it offers them a unique opportunity to catch up with old friends, both human and mechanical. In the same way, the spectators buy tickets because the Festival allows them to relive memories of yesteryear. The view from the driver's enclosure is undoubtedly different to that afforded by the grandstands, but the spirit is just the same.

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