On Saturday I took the boys to the Goodwood Festival of Speed with my sister, brother in law, niece and my mum. I went last year with friends Adam and Stuart and had managed to get a privileged view of Lewis Hamilton doing donuts in his Mclaren just a few feet away. As we left the festival I remember feeling really sad that I hadn't taken the boys for them to have been part of the experience and knowing that I may not get another chance.
So this year I was determined to remedy the situation. The Festival of Speed is not the easiest place for wheelchair bound viewing, or for children. The straw bales lining the entire hillclimb track obscure the view for anyone under 4 feet. The wheelchair viewing platforms are always full and certainly wouldn't accommodate my entourage, only one grandstand is wheelchair accessible and getting to locations on different sides of the track requires you to coincide your crossing with the breaks between track activity. So you are at the mercy of kind hearted marshalls bending the rules and letting you into officials only areas.
Despite this I wanted to make ammends for last year so along we went. This years quest to replicate last years experience ended up with a lot of walking and not much watching. The information desk lady was adament that there was no way any assistance could be provided to get us in the right place at the right time to meet the drivers. Explaining our circumstances only resulted in being told that ours was just one of many similar requests. If its that bloody common maybe they could set aside half an hour to let us all meet them.
We had already established that Lewis was driving the following day. The boys were initially not impressed by this but after explaining that Jenson Button, who was appearing, was the current world number one driver, they were satisfied that they hadn't been short changed!
The only place I was confident we would see him was at the end of the hillclimb circuit which I knew was a good 15 minute treck up the hill and through the woods. The constant plumes of dust kicked up by the rally cars speeding through the woods on the right and the shuttle bus tractors on the left made the journey fairly arduous.
Having reached the top it was time to negociate with the marshalls to gain access to inside the paddock. Unfortunately unlike last year they wouldn't let us right inside but got us up to the gate instead. However they wouldn't bend the rules sufficiently to let the boys in.
A few minutes later Mark Webber arrived in last years Red Bull and proceeded to vanish behind a wall of tyre smoke as he donutted the car for the crowds entertainment. A couple of minutes later the star of the day arrived more cautiously in a priceless Ayrton Senna Mclaren. Jenson Button emerged and was immediately surrounded by media and VIP guests invited into the paddock. The marshalls made a point of getting him to come over to say hello. He seems like a genuinely nice chap, he asked if I was enjoying it, it was frustrating not being able to talk to him and tell him he had better bloody well win next week when we come to silverstone. My sister got him to sign hats and programmes and got some good pictures.
I think that I was more disappointed than the boys that they hadn't got to meet him, but they seemed happy with the autographs. I was disappointed that having got back a year later I had got so close to achieving what I had wanted, but couldn't quite manage it.
We made our way back through the dust and down the hill to the main festival site where the boys and their long suffering cousin, Alisha had a turn on the off road go karts.
Massive thanks to Sue, David, Alisha and mum for making the day possible; I am sure it wasn't the ladies first choice of weekend pastime, and I think David would have liked to have seen more cars and less dusty forest. So thanks again.