Petrolheads Party: The Festival of Speed Is an Antidote to Puffed-Up Formula One, Says Emma John

Article excerpt

Old drummers don't die, they just gig at stately homes. So I discovered at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, held on 11-13 July at the Earl of March's grand pad in Sussex. The big question around the paddock was not who would finish fastest in the famous hill climb, but who would be the entertainment at the famously splendid gala dinner on Saturday night.

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There was a crazy rumour that Pink Floyd had reunited for the occasion, which suggested that the smell of burning rubber had gone to a few heads. It turned out to be not so far off-the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, an avowed petrolhead, had brought along Queen's Roger Taylor and The Who's Kenney Jones to treat us to a percussive spectacular.

The result was a truly bizarre sight. The 1,200 invited guests are generally at the "venerable" end of the spectrum - racing drivers of a certain age such as Sir Stirling Moss, aristocratic motoring enthusiasts and, of course, their elegant, silver-haired wives. It was dark, so it was difficult to gauge their reaction when Mason's dancing girls tore off their leathers to reveal a red bra-and-hot-pants combo, nor could I tell whether they appreciated the pole dancing. What with the accompanying fireworks and jets of flame, I did worry that there were some pacemakers working very hard.

Happily, KT Tunstall was also in the house to calm things down, and some decorous bopping ensued on the dance floor. She even apologised for wearing a dirty T-shirt, having travelled straight from a muddy field at T in the Park in Kinross. It struck me how inverted the correlation between sport and pop music is. Footballers may think they're the new rock gods, but steal any sportsman's iPod and you'll be listening to Elton John, Dire Straits and Girls Aloud until your eardrums burst. …