Motorsport has been a long-time interest of mine and I was keen to weave that into the trip somehow. I figured the best option was to see if I could visit a race track or two, and had a few scoped out which were reasonably close to our main path of travel.
The first couple of options earlier in the trip bombed due to time constraints. But during our week in Hampshire I was able to instigate a day trip involving a visit to the Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex.
If I had to visit only one track, I really wanted it to be this one. As well as being an historical circuit well-known for its classic car events, Goodwood is where the founder of the McLaren Formula One racing team, New Zealander Bruce McLaren, died in a testing accident in 1970.
I was excited to arrive here on what was a beautifully fine mid-week day.
The track came into being after World War Two on land which had been the RAF station Westhampnett. Its opening in 1948 brought the first major racing event in the United Kingdom for nine years.
The name Goodwood is much bigger than just the circuit. It is an estate covering 12,000 acres on which is also housed a race course (for singular horse power), golf course, airport, Rolls-Royce plant and HQ, hotel, the very grand Goodwood House (which we didn’t see) and that’s not an exhaustive list.
The circuit was in use, I think for a ‘track day’, the term given for days where drivers have the chance to take their cars out for a fang in a non-race environment.
A few weeks after our visit was the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, a hill climb event held not at the circuit but in the grounds of Goodwood House. That would be brilliant to attend.
But today it was enough to just wander around taking it all in.
I immersed myself in their excellent gift shop when I found myself in the vicinity of it. Their fantastic selection of vintage style posters had me deliberating for several minutes (which reminds me, I must get mine block mounted and up on a wall somewhere!).
Tummies were insisting we find some lunch so after getting directions to the cafe, we drove through the underpass into the infield area.
The cafe was in the aero club. While in the process of wandering around in the grounds nearby we came across a few memorials in a nice quiet (well, on that day at least) well cared-for corner of the circuit. I didn’t know for sure if there was anything remembering Bruce McLaren at the track, let alone where it would be, but that was soon answered. I was really pleased to find it.
After lunch it was time to think about going. It had been a great visit but we still had a big afternoon ahead.