When Blades fan of 40 years, Andrew Rodgers made a successful bid for a Motorsport Day during our "Twelve Gifts of Christmas" auction in December 2011, little did he know that six months later, he would experience an exhilarating day at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Motorsport Day was one of the auction prizes on offer for the Karl Darby Fund and was donated by Sytner Sheffield, supplier of cars to The Blades and who have a close association with the Club.
As a BMW owner for over ten years, this prize in particular caught Andrew's eye as he currently lives and works in London, meaning that Goodwood would only be a relatively short drive from his home in Blackheath.
"The day itself was amazing," said Andrew, 51, a Customer Relations Manager and a season ticket holder on the Kop. "Upon arriving at Goodwood, BMW had provided the use of the Jackie Stewart Pavilion for their guests and had also supplied around a dozen M-Power and Alpina cars, including the legendary M3 and M5 models."
After their introduction to the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit by representatives of BMW Motorsport, all the guests were let loose on the track and invited to drive the cars of their choice. "We were accompanied by trained instructors who encouraged us to put the cars through their paces," said Andrew. "Although I drive a similar car on a daily basis, you realise that on a racing track, they are capable of phenomenal speed and performance."
A further bonus was the chance to be a passenger of ex-Formula One driver and now TV personality, Tiff Needell, who took "willing victims" on a couple of laps of the circuit at racing speeds. "The skill he showed when driving round the track was superb," said Andrew. "Tiff was at least 20-30 miles per hour quicker than me round the circuit and was also providing a running commentary of each corner and straight."
"He really did make it look easy and it was a privilege to see such handling of a car, especially by a really good bloke too."
After the lunch provided by the hosts, the final part of the day saw Andrew attempt the famous Goodwood Hill Climb which involved racing a car on a time trial basis over a tricky and hazardous course, a distance of 1.16 miles. For the Hill Climb, Andrew drove the powerful and impressive BMW M5 and was accompanied by an instructor who proved invaluable with his advice on such a difficult track.
"The whole day was a fantastic experience," said Andrew, “and I appreciate the efforts of all concerned at Sheffield United for putting together a great auction for such a good cause. "Nigel Marsh, at Sytner Sheffield, also deserves special thanks for his involvement in donating the prize and for ensuring my visit to Goodwood was both memorable and hassle free."