It was the 3rd of July 2013, and I was absolutely astonished. I re-read the message from Nissan UK three, maybe four times. Maybe it was even more than that. This was really going to happen, and I felt like the luckiest bloke on earth.
'Congratulations Jonny you have won our contest and are off to Goodwood's Moving Motor Show on the 11th of July, and you get to drive the Nissan Juke Nismo up the hill!'
I had gone to the Goodwood Festival of Speed the previous year and I'd witnessed many fantastic modern, and not-so-modern cars flying up the famous hill in front of hundreds of spectators and car lovers from across the globe. It was hard for me to imagine that I would soon be doing the same run as all the legends, be they of mechanical or human variety.
Perhaps it's snobbish or wrong of me to think this, but I feel that unless you've actually been to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, you don't necessarily understand just what a big deal it is to be able to have a run up the hill. The Goodwood Hillclimb has probably had more of the greats go up it than any other ribbon of tarmac in the world, I can't even begin to list them. So, to be able to add my name to that long list of motor racing legends and drive up the hill was going to be a tremendous moment for me.
The moment was to be 5:20pm. I had the whole day to look around the festival before making my way back over to Nissan and to my mysterious contact that I knew only as 'RJ' to register, book in, and finally get my moment on the hill. Thankfully, I had one of my oldest friends with me and it was his first time at the festival. During that day I saw the look on his face, the same look I must have had on mine when I first went there. Goodwood has an aura, a feeling. You pick up on something when you go there and you really genuinely feel like you are taking part in something, existing inside something, living through something truly special. If you've been, you'll understand what I mean when I say this to you.
So, what did we do first? We saw the world debut of the new Skoda Octavia vRS, and we stood about 4 feet away from Lord March as the covers came off the new car. It felt very special indeed to be there as the cover was taken off and the flashes from the audience photographers reflected off the shiny new body work. With it being Goodwood, we jumped in the drivers seat and had got a really good feel for the car. We repeated this with every other car we came across at the show, with the exception of the classics obviously! A couple of bays along was Nissan, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself early and meet RJ. She was lovely, and even had a suprise for me. She had left a goodie bag of Nismo goods at the main Nissan stand in the grounds for me. Wow, this day was getting better and better. Luckiest bloke on earth, I swear.
The rest of the day was really all a blur of awesome cars, thunderous engine sounds, and glorious English sunshine. A few things do however stand out, me and my friend got to have a go on a £60,000 F1 car simulator (pictured above). This was very tricky indeed, the circuit was Monaco and everybody was slamming into the barriers. I saw this happening and so I took it quite slow, kept it out of the barriers, floored it through the tunnel, and recorded a 1:30 something. Only 17 seconds slower than Hamilton the McLaren man told me. I don't know if it felt realistic, but it was very hard, and very lively. Other highlights in the day included VIP treatment at Skoda, sitting in GTR's, Nismo 370z's, Audi R8's, Bentley Mulsanne's, Jaguar F-Type's (title picture), and getting into a long chat with the guy who was presenting the new Vuhl sportscar. 'Who is going to be driving it up the hill for you?' 'Esteban Gutierrez' he replied. Was I really having a conversation with somebody important at the biggest motor event of the year? Amazing.
After many hours enjoying the best festival in the world, It was time. I met my racing instructor who was to sit alongside me in the Juke Nismo and talk to me non-stop through the entire hillclimb. He was fantastic, I honestly couldn't have got myself a better man in that passenger seat. As you're about to see below he was really, really good. We drove around to the famous start line, and it was nearly time. I'd already given my friend my phone to record on, and the following video is what took place during the next two minutes of my life...
I'm really sorry about the shake on the camera there guys. I hope you enjoyed the video anyway.
Anyway, Let me tell you, It was the best short drive of my life. I was so focused, trying to take in everything my instructor said to me and put it into practice. For those two minutes, I was Sterling Moss. I was Ayrton Senna, I was Jimmy Clark... you get the picture. In reality though I was Jonny Edge, and I was held up by a Dacia Sandero. Unluckiest bloke on earth...
Driving like a professional is so much harder than I thought. I forgot simple, basic things and I very nearly hit a hay bale. Nevertheless, I impressed my friend who shot that video in the back seat. He said he was worried, he said that he 'definitely' heard the tyres screeching on the first corner, and above all he was impressed that I got us through the tight hay bale chicane. You know what? I'll take that.
My name is Jonny Edge, and I am one of the many
legends drivers to have had the fortune to drive up the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb course. And it was a pleasure to be able share my moment with you here on Oppositelock. Thank you very much for reading.