Anyone can head down to the main marquee by the start line and sign up, on a first-come-first-served basis, to get behind the wheel of a car going up the famous hillclimb.
You can drive or be driven, you can go solo or take a partner in the back seat, you can rag it (within reason) or amble: the choice is entirely yours. The magic is that the experience isn’t that different from Lewis Hamilton’s at Goodwood: you see the same scenery and you take the same route. You even get live coverage from the cameras lining the course: it’s your 15 seconds of fame, minus the donuts in front of the house.
Goodwood Road and Racing chose Ford’s new Fiesta ST200 as our wheels of choice this year: it seemed a fitting way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ford’s supermini.
The ST badge first turned the Fiesta into a compact hot hatch in 2013; Ford has since sold more than 30,000 of them in Europe.
The new ST, which started production this month, develops 200PS (hence the name) from its 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine; 10 per cent more power than the outgoing model, joined by 20 per cent more torque (213lb ft). There’s a sneaky additional 14bhp and 22b ft available for up to 20 seconds using transient overboost. The figures take the model to 62mph in 6.7 seconds.
Under the skin is a chassis with revised suspension and steering: the rear twist beam has 27 per cent more roll stiffness and the front anti-roll bar better supports revised dampers. The ST version sits 15mm closer to the road than a standard Fiesta. Electronic power-steering settings have been sharpened and the chassis has its own torque-vectoring system to brake the inside front wheel when cornering for reduced understeer.
So how did it feel in our brief trip up the hill? That suspension is firm alright, but the chassis makes for a lot of pin-sharp fun when you’re pressing on. The steering is taut and offers great feedback, and that engine really brings the car alive from about 4,000rpm.
What a great way to kick-start the Festival of Speed; in a little pocket rocket. But it’s not just the cars that Ford has injected with a large dose of agility this year: visitors to the Ford stand will be able to see parkour athletes strutting their stuff. A jaw-dropping 4.5m airbag “jump experience” is available for willing visitors who wish to replicate the 9m jump that the four parkour athletes take on. You can catch the guys strutting their stuff in a five-minute display of spins, flips and falls, set to music, eight times a day on the stand.