I have to admit I was mildly apprehensive, given that my chat with the editor had gone something like this:
“Helen, what do you know about motorsport?”
“Cars in general?”
“No, still nothing”
“Hmmm. Then you might find this a bit tricky.”
However, my fears, it seems ,were groundless. For those of you that have never heard of it, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is an international motoring event hosted on Lord March’s Goodwood Estate in West Sussex.
It’s a beautiful setting on the South Downs and attracts some of the biggest names in motor racing. This year even current F1 stars like Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were there.
Not that you would have seen poor Lewis Hamilton. Every time he set foot outside the Driver’s Club he was mobbed by adoring fans. It began to resemble a large swarm of human bees criss-crossing the grounds.
I got to meet and interview motor racing legends like Derek Bell, current Le Mans champion David Brabham and even Sir Stirling Moss, who were all incredibly nice and very friendly. You can listen to them here.
Derek Bell, being a local man from Pagham, told me how he used to hear the cars going round the Goodwood Circuit while he was working on his parents’ farm.
Sir Stirling had some great anecdotes about a pub he used to run with a long-time friend in nearby Chichester.
And David Brabham gave me a fascinating insight into the rigours of a 24 hour race.
Possibly my favourite interview of the weekend though was Jesse G James. He’s the founder of West Coast Choppers, related to the outlaw Jesse James and married to Sandra Bullock. He’s also bonkers and utterly charming. I can honestly say that nobody else described their car as “kind of wrong-looking”.
Here’s hoping they let me go next year!