How Goodwood Festival of Speed Celebrated 25 Years
Imagine the beautiful silent countryside of southern England. Birds chirping, sheep bleating in the distance, perfectly maintained green grass, and historic country residences … promptly interrupted by the noise of eight (!) upcoming McLaren making their way towards the little town of Chichester. This is just the beginning of a noisy and exciting weekend.
Twice a year Charles Henry Gordon Lennox, better known as Lord March, The Duke of Richmond, invites the motoring and motorsport extravaganza to his Goodwood country house in Westhampnett near Chichester. The result is a motorsport event unlike any other in the world. This year marks the silver jubilee of the Festival of Speed (FOS), highlighting the most special moments from the past 25 years.
The main attraction of the Festival of Speed is undoubtedly the hill climb past the Goodwood house. All different types of cars from pre-war models and '60s and '70s Formula 1 racers, to drift cars and modern electric hyper cars, try to burn down the best time on the 1.86 km (1.16 miles) track.
"The narrowest, bumpiest, least grippy course I've ever driven, and I absolutely love it", says ex-Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Not all the cars are timed, and it's not a serious race by any means, but the audience gets the chance to see, hear, smell, and even touch some very rare examples of brilliant engineering.
Prominent drivers like Sir Jackie Stewart, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Klaus Ludwig, Jochen Mass, Richard "The King" Petty, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. amongst others pilot these rare machines. Undoubtedly the wildest mix and celebration of cars and motorcycles worldwide! Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s Ford Mustang RTR was also featured in our book The Drive – Custom Cars and Their Builders.
This year also marks the 70th birthday of Porsche, and all of the brand's important models are either driven or displayed throughout the four days of the event. Porsche's anniversary also inspires this year's Central Feature (the annual sculpture built each year for the FOS). Artist Gerry Judah has mounted six real Porsches onto a 52-m (170-foot) high, white, pronged mast. Martini also celebrates its 50th anniversary, proudly presenting its legendary livery throughout Lancia's Rally cars and Martini Porsches.
Lord March is not just a traditionalist, and new technologies play a growing role in the program. In fact, the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, an all electric car, sets the fastest time of the weekend. Another first sight, the completely autonomous, driverless racecar "Robocar", makes its debut up the hill, followed by rapturous applause from spectators realizing how much effort the Roborace-Team has put into the development of the autonomous car.
The best thing about Goodwood is undoubtedly that it's a fan event. All the cars can be visited in the main paddock and it's easy to meet your favorite driver or ask the mechanics how they maintain these delicate machines as you can see in our book Gentlemen, Start Your Engines – The Bonhams Guide to Classic Cars.
Cars are constantly being prepared for the hill climb, worked on, or pushed to the prestart. Multimillion dollar cars are actually used and driven and manufacturers use the event to present their latest models in this special scenery.
Whatever you're into, Goodwood won't disappoint. Don't be surprised if a man with a jetpack flies over your head. This all could just happen on England's beautiful countryside.