Billed as the largest motoring garden party in the world attracting a record 196,000 fans over four days, the 2013 Festival of Speed in the immaculate grounds of Goodwood House at first glance seems like an unlikely place to find 20 of the world’s leading action sports stars.
But nestled among the Pimms and Porsches, blazers and Bentleys, smoked salmon and McLarens, the GAS Arena was home for four days to a group of global superstars from the white-knuckle worlds of Freestyle Motocross, BMX Dirt, BMX Flatland, Mountain Bike Trials and Motorcycle Trials.
Combining their spectacular skills on a purpose-built playground crafted from 7,000 tonnes of soil, the athletes from Britain, Spain, the Czech Republic, Japan, France, Germany and the USA put on a series of spectacular shows that left festival-goers open-mouthed as they went head-to-head over six FMX ramps, two BMX runs and log and rock-strewn Trials sections.
GAS, or Goodwood Action Sports, made its Festival of Speed debut in 2011 when it was an instant hit. The concept is a simple one – take five amazing action sports, carefully select some of the most accomplished riders on the planet and put them together in one purpose-built arena. The result is a spectacle that rivals even the historic hillclimb the festival is built around.
Since that dazzling debut GAS has continued to grow and for the 20th Anniversary of the Festival of Speed – which this year ran from July 11-14 – the jumps were bigger and the action crazier with a list of riders that read like a who’s who of the action sports world. And for the first time the athletes ventured outside their arena with two separate trials sections located among the attractions allowing the riders to take GAS into the heart of the festival.
Under a blazing sun the athletes turned the heat up even higher with white-hot displays of aerial athletics that saw FMX riders including Petr Pilat, Brody Wilson and 16-year-old Spanish ‘bambino loco’ Chris Meyer back-flipping and tail-whipping their bikes 50ft above the Goodwood grounds.
High on a platform in the centre of the arena Spanish BMX Flatland legend Viki Gomez performed his beautiful bicycle ballet while closer to the ground 12-time Motorcycle Trials world champion Dougie Lampkin and team-mate Alexz Wigg mixed it up with MTB Trials champions Chris Doney and Chris Akrigg to amaze fans with their sublime balance skills and explosive strength.
The BMX field featured two out of the world’s current top three riders with American big-hitters Chris Doyle and Brandon Dosch stringing together incredibly technical runs over the fearsome ‘six-pack’ jump section but it was home-grown heroes Kye Forte and Jay Cowley who almost stole the headlines as day after day they took turns to unofficially break Kye’s Guinness-endorsed world BMX High Jump record of 20ft 11ins.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Doyle. “Beautiful weather, the jumps are great, no wind, the crowd’s been amazing – it’s just been awesome. This is probably the best event I’ve done this year so far. It’s been a blast man. I didn’t have any expectations coming here because I didn’t know what the event was like and it’s just blown me away.”
“Goodwood Action Sports was incredible, celebrating everything from world class BMX to jaw-dropping Freestyle motocross,” says Lord March, who opens the grounds of Goodwood House every year for the Festival of Speed. “GAS is a wonderful addition to the world class motorsport celebrated at the Festival of Speed.”